Personal ad: Music writer in search of hardcore punk band with growing maturity. Should be edgy, but still cute, and must like Hello Kitty and Rage Against the Machine. Must be welcome to making others ears bleed. No poseurs, just honest to goodness rockers who like to get it on live.
Melt Banana is the only band with the make up to answer this ad.
On the heels of its recently released fifth album, Cell-Scape, Melt Banana will perform at the Orpheum in Ybor City on Tuesday.
Natives of Midorigaoka Chofu, a suburb of Tokyo, Melt Banana is the envy of every live act going. Not only is the music they play pulsating and energizing, the band members also have a way of arresting a crowd’s attention.
Lead vocalist YaSuKo is a dominating presence, spitting speedy supersonic vocals, and guitarist AGATA makes about any sound you can think of on his axe. He also wears a surgical mask duct-taped to his face, presenting the bizarre juxtaposition of a man thrashing his guitar with seemingly no facial expression. (And he’s been wearing the mask for years, lest you thought it was a SARS thing).
Imagine playing LPs by Tricky, Cibo Matto, Bad Brains and Alvin and the Chipmunks simultaneously, and you’ll get a clue as to how hyperactively intense Melt Banana’s albums are.
You can’t help bobbing your head in ADD-like fashion while listing to any of the band’s five albums or umpteen EPs and collaborations.
None of the albums really differentiate from each other musically, but the band gets progressively better with each disc at doing what it is it does best — ripping it up.
Cell-Scape is arguably Melt Banana’s most accessible album to date, but is just as hardcore as the rest.
Production is notably crisp, translating the energy of the music better than previous efforts, but in no way lessening the grunt of the band’s work.
“Shield For Your Eyes, A Beast In The Well On Your Hand” opens with guitar work that sounds like a cross between a band saw and fingernails on chalk, matched by a quivering bass line.
The minute and a half intro may lull some listeners into thinking the track is instrumental, but always out for a surprise, the band follows with a crushing breakdown accompanied but YaSuKo’s unintelligible but exhilarating lyrics.
“Lost Parts Stinging Me So Cold” is 10 minutes of sound energy into three minutes of music, with a skipping drumbeat, grinding guitar layers and YaSuKo actually singing (and very well at that).
Airplanes taking off signal the start of “A Dreamer Who Is Too Weak To Face Up To,” along with more drums being hit at the same time than any human should be able to do. This makes way for a classic Melt Banana crescendo of cyclonic guitars and forceful vocals. A more down tempo mid-section would be almost mellow if not for AGATA’s guitar siren.
“Outro” calms the album down with an unanticipated soft note, full of electric blips and bloops.
Although it’s the type of fare that you would expect from, say, the Flaming Lips, the musical mood isn’t an unwelcome end to Cell-Scape.
Melt Banana last came to Tampa in November, also at the Orpheum.
“We like it performing here (at the Orpheum),” YaSuKo said. “We’ve been here a few times and the crowds get better each time.”
The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. with opening acts Vomit Spawn and Cumshotte.
Expect a packed house, and bring some earplugs if you plan on hearing anything the next day.