Japanese band Sans Visage screams their way to Pinoy fans

Rick Olivares

Posted at May 07 2019 05:12 PM

Kouki Higuchi, Yohei Kamiyama, and Kou Nakagawa of Japanese band Sans Visage with their debut album 'Moments,' right before performing to Filipino fans. Photo provided by author

MANILA -- The three members of Japanese scream hardcore band Sans Visage all look like unassuming college kids out on a science project. In fact, they would fit nicely well in a Japanese version of Netflix’s retro hit "Stranger Things."

Drummer Kou Nakagawa laughs and appreciates the comparison. “We’re all nerds,” he fessed up.

Even before the Tokyo-based Sans Visage hit Philippine shores for a three-show concert series, their reputation as a livewire performing band preceded them.

“They are like (recent Manila visitors and American band) Massa Nera where all three members (Nakagawa, guitarist Yohei Kamiyama and bassist Kouki Higuchi) sing,” noted Darwin Soneja of production group Sleeping Boy Collective who along with the like-minded Counterflow Productions brought over Sans Visage to the Philippines. 

“And like Massa Nera, they are even better live than on their record.”

Kamiyama smiled at the plaudits.

Sans Visage released their debut album "Moments" in 2018 on the independent Dog Knights Productions and Asian Gothic labels after two earlier split-albums with an assortment of bands. "Moments" has garnered rave reviews from just about every rock music site and magazine worth its salt. 

Once more, the three Japanese musicians remain humble. “It is good to know that people like our music,” smiled Kamiyama.

Screamo music is an aggressive subgenre of emo that is strongly influenced by hardcore punk and characterized by the use of screamed vocals. Sans Visage’s music and screams are just right. Not overly loud; melodic even.

Screaming is used as a form of therapy for those having these pent-up emotions roiling inside of them. In fact, in Japan, a screaming festival on Yufu, Oita prefecture was organized with over a hundred participants. A “shouting vase” is sold to the public where one shouts into a jar but the scream is inaudible due to the sound in the vacuum. 

The band snickers about screaming and its practical uses. 

“Our music,” noted Nakagawa, “touches on topics of depression, loneliness, and frustration.”

“Music is a perfect outlet for our frustrations,” added Kamiyama. “Instead of doing something destructive or something we might regret, we channel everything through music. And we are grateful that our music is not only appreciated by others but also because it helps them.”

Last Sunday, May 5, at the 123 Block along Pioneer Street in Mandaluyong City, like in the two previous shows at the Noise Garage in Manila and the Hardcore Hope Hall in Batangas, the three-piece band raged and screamed at the dying of the light to delirious Filipino fans.

Said a relieved and sweaty Nakagawa after the show: “It is great to know that we have fans outside Japan, especially here in Manila. Music is indeed an international language.”