EP Review: Kari Band – Kari Ongen

April 26th, 2017 (Japan); Bellwood Records
EP (25 min.)
Jazz Fusion, Jazz, Progressive Rock

BZCM1088_FRONTJapanese Kawaii Metal phenomenon BABYMETAL is probably one of the most “controversial” bands in the Metal scene right now. There are probably only a few Metalheads who do not have some kind of opinion on that project. Many love it, many hate it, and that’s okay. But I think there is one thing we can all agree on: the musicians in BABYMETAL‘s backing band are some pretty talented dudes.

The Kari Band is the second project consisting of musicians who play(ed) in BABYMETAL‘s backing band after Takayoshi Ohmura’s solo project.
The Kari Band features Mikio Fujioka on the guitar, Yuya Maeta on the drums and the almighty BOH on the bass. The name Kari Band roughly translates to “temporary band” or “provisional band” and is a pun on Kami Band (“God Band”) which is the official name of BABYMETAL‘s backing band.

When I read about this project I had certain ideas about what kind of music this band might play on their debut. Considering the style of BABYMETAL, I expected a melodic and rather fast paced progressive Metal album. Well, I was not really close.

“Kari Ongen” is a Jazz Fusion album, stylistically similar to Nova Collective, who also released their debut album this year. The sound is a fusion between traditional Jazz and Progressive Rock, occasionally going into a more metallic, djenty direction, reminiscent of projects like Animals As Leaders.

This EP is labeled as a demo, but actually sounds like a fully realized, coherent album to me. While the songwriting, though very competent and interesting, isn’t extremely innovative for the genre, what really stands out here is the musicianship. BOH is a beast of a bassist – he already showed that in his work with Babymetal but here he finally gets the chance to really go for it. Mikio and Yuya are absolute masters of their instruments, as well. Also the guest musicians on the classical Jazz instruments, the wind instruments and the piano, do a great job.

As a whole this EP is a fantastic Jazz record by some insanely talented musicians – dynamic, entertaining and relaxing. I can’t wait for more from these guys.

You can listen to this album on Spotify.