If you listen to heavy music circa now, you know Envy. Even if you’ve never actually listened to Envy, you’ve heard them. The Japanese post-hardcore band is almost singlehandedly responsible for the sound called blackgaze. Envy’s progeny include countrymen Heaven In Her Arms, Denmark’s Møl, Austria’s Harakiri For The Sky, Ottawa’s Unreqvited, Toronto’s Respire, Australia’s Woods Of Desolation, and California’s Deafheaven, along with countless other bands across additional continents.
Envy’s last album, 2015’s Atheist’s Cornea, came out a few months before Deafheaven’s New Bermuda, which gave the younger band a chance to tour with their forefathers. And those shows were fucking magic. If you caught any of them, consider yourself pretty goddamn fortunate. You won’t see anything like them anytime soon.
On February 6, 2018, Envy announced a new lineup consisting of yOshi, Yoshimitsu Taki, and Hiroki Watanabe. A Japanese press release added that two members had left the band, and founding guitarist and drummer Masahiro Tobita and Dairoku Seki were no longer listed as members on the band’s Facebook page or website.
On April 1, 2018, Tetsuya Fukagawa surprise-rejoined Envy on stage for the first time in two and a half years, cementing his return to the band.
Today, we get our first taste of the new Envy: two songs released as a digital single titled Alnair In August. According to the press materials, these tracks “[hint] at what will come on [Envy’s] next full-length album, due later in 2019.”
The songs are called “Dawn And Gaze” and “Marginalized Thread,” respectively, and they’re both incredible. It’s rare for the seminal influence to sound vastly more evolved than its offspring, but that’s what I’m hearing here. Envy do more in 10 minutes than any of the aforementioned bands do in an hour. (And I love all the aforementioned bands, so this is not intended to disparage them. They’re all great. Buy their shit.)
Envy’s work gives the superficial appearance of sprawl, but the songs don’t waste a goddamn second. They also don’t sound disorganized or overstuffed. For example: It’s rare to hear a band like this even attempt three different vocal styles in one song; Envy make it sound so organic you don’t even notice. Listen close to these two tracks and you’ll hear so much happening. They have the complexity of prog or peak thrash, but those tools and techniques are used in the service of music that builds, flows, surges, and falls like an element of nature. It’s magnificent, is it not? Listen.
Alnair In August is out now, digital only, and you can cop here.