Tom Smith gets ready to rock to the maximum.
If you thought Maximum the Hormone was a black market miracle serum, and not the name of one of Japan’s finest genre-bending noise outfits, then you have my condolences. Not only does it suggest that your music collection is lacking an essential purchase in the name of Japanese rock (the band’s album Buiikikaesu, their fifth LP), but it equally suggests that you have yet to experience the animated version of “arguably one of the biggest manga series to come out in the past five years or so” (so says IGN). The series is Death Note, attributed with propelling Maximum the Hormone to the dizzying heights of mainstream success.
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The band’s not without a sense of humour. This year marks their return from hiatus after drummer Nao was forced to take a break during the pregnancy of her first child (medical experts had to pry her from her kit). The group marked their comeback with the announcement of their first European headlining tour, as well as their first single for four years.
Since their last record, the band had gone from selling a couple of thousand copies per album, to over 200,000 for Buiikikaesu, the CD containing Death Note opener ‘What’s Up People?!’ and closing track ‘Zetsubou Billy’. The big question on the lips of fans was if the group’s time in the spotlight had resulted in the hardcore unit toning down their heavy riffs and neck breaking breakdowns in favour of cute and cuddly manufactured fluff. See the results for yourself in the video below, the first minute or so of which was originally shown on Maximum the Hormone’s homepage as a teaser trailer for their latest single – tease being the operative word.
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It was clearly a joke, and those that suspected otherwise soon had their fears quashed when the video was replaced with the extended teaser found above. The triple A-sided single that includes the main track of that video, ‘Greatest the Hits 2011–2011’, went on to be the group’s first number one single with its 23 March release, rocking the top of Japan’s official single chart for two consecutive weeks.
You can celebrate their return on the 20th of June at O2 Islington Academy, the foursome’s first headlining show in the UK. Previously, they played support slots for Brit electro-metallers Enter Shikari in Exeter, Southampton and Folkestone before the two-date finale in London in 2008, not long after Enter Shikari supported them on the Japanese gig circuit.
If you can’t wait until then, and the idea of importing Buiikikaesu isn’t financially viable, you can either crank the band’s themes each time Death Note ends and begins, or nab the original soundtrack from the UK iTunes store. It contains the TV-sized editions of both Maximum the Hormone themes for 79p each. Bargain.