I don’t know as much about the history of stoner metal and its various offshoots as some of my Reader compatriots, and when it comes to Japanese bands playing this style of spirited sludge, well, I’m basically stumbling blindly through the woods. But during one of my routine late-night Bandcamp trawling expeditions, I found Japanese stoner band Greenmachine.
In June three international labels–Robustfellow in Ukraine, Long Legs Long Arms in Japan, and Riff Merchant in the U.S.–teamed up on a vinyl reissue of the band’s 1996 debut album, D.A.M.N. Greenmachine have had an on-and-off career: they broke up in 1999, reunited in 2003, split again in 2006, and reunited a second time in 2013. Even though they’ve had several releases in each of their three active periods (the full-length Mountains of Madness dropped in 2019), their debut has turned out to be the record that really stuck–so much so that the organizers of premiere European metal festival Roadburn invited Greenmachine to play D.A.M.N. in its entirety in 2018.
I’ve found myself particularly engrossed in the third track, “Red Eye.” (It’s also one of the band’s favorites–they’ve continued to revisit it over the years, and Mountains of Madness includes “Red Eye Pt. 6.”) Greenmachine build the song around a simple, repetitive riff, slowly and almost imperceptibly ratcheting up the tension. They bring the song to the brink of boiling over, only to pull the plug–the riff comes to a sudden halt, and “Red Eye” ends with a fading squeal of guitar feedback. Greenmachine don’t deliver the release I was aching to hear, and that defiance of my expectations is part of what I find so appealing about it. v