Guitarist Kono of Risingfall Dishes on New Music, the Band’s Origins, and the Japanese Metal Scene

All images courtesy of Dying Victims PR

Risingfall’s Kono might be a new kid on the block, but the guitarist’s bottomless bag of tricks will have him making memorable music for metalheads to devour for years to come.


By Dylan Peggin
recordspinner97@gmail.com

Many people have come to associate the genre of heavy metal with its English roots and the various American and European groups that have emerged.

Within the land of the rising sun is Risingfall, which delivers technical musicianship and soaring high melodies packed with a sense of power. Their full-length debut album, Rise or Fall, will be released in November 2022. It proves that for a band in the infancy of their career, they are hungry and have no hesitation in unleashing their majestic sound to headbangers across the metal world.

I recently settled in with Kono to recount the origins of Risingfall, the band’s new music, and much more.

Given your sound works in elements of the NWOBHM, hard rock, and American power metal, what are some of the groups that proved to have such a huge influence on Risingfall?

The band started when Yoshiki contacted me in response to some inferior, NWOBHM-esque songs I uploaded to an internet recruitment site. We’re music geeks and have listened to so many bands that it’s hard to say a specific band. But Rainbow is probably the biggest influence, especially in the guitar riffs. I also love Led Zeppelin, but reducing their bluesy sound to power metal is hard.

Is it safe to say that Risingfall is the sole band from Japan waving the power metal flag high?

I’m glad to hear you say that, but there is an excellent band of our generation called Significant Point. It would be best if you listened to their album from last year, which our vocalist G Itoh guested. Also, check out the band Bildungsphilister, who has an interesting speed metal sound reminiscent of power metal or even early Visual Kei. Power metal used to be popular in Japan, so there are quite a lot of old guys’ bands, though not many young bands. 

Japan has always had an immense love for rock and metal bands. What facets of the metal sound do you feel gravitate toward metal?

I don’t think anyone has properly collected statistics, but it is said that Japanese people generally like melodies. For example, Deep Purple, Deep Purple was the most popular in Japan, and Black Sabbath, in particular, was not popular at first. Conversely, Sabbath only became popular in Japan after Ronnie James Dio joined the band. Of course, Rainbow was also very popular. Iron Maiden used to be aggressive, but they also had melodies. Even in the ’90s, when heavy metal was declining worldwide, power metal was popular in Japan; I think people still love melodies. But I think this is largely due to the influence of the Japanese metal media. For example, nowadays, Japanese bands that are famous in the world are doom, stoner, or extreme metal. But these genres and bands don’t get much media coverage. I think they have been ‘discovered’ in the internet age. At any rate, I think that before the ’00s, people loved the melodies of metal.

Given the loss of Yoshiki, was there a heightened sense of determination to carry out his legacy and the band’s lifespan?

He was a very good friend to us, so losing him was a real shock. He didn’t write any songs at all, and only one of his songs is on this album. There’s a song called “Risingfall,” where he came up with the main guitar riff. But before he was admitted to the hospital, he told me, “Don’t stop the band; keep going.” And his bereaved family has told me the same. So, we can’t stop because music is life. New ideas spring up endlessly on their own.

What fresh elements does Oyatata bring to Risingfall?

Oyatata is also very good. First of all, he is also a good friend, to begin with. And he’s a great guitarist as well. Me and Yoshiki are not really heavy metal guitarists. We’re both pentatonic hard rock guitarists; we can’t play sweep. Oyatata, on the other hand, is an intense shredder; he likes Gary Holt. I also get a Dimebag Darrell feel sometimes. Right now, the twin guitar team is a hard rock man and a metal guy; it’s interesting. [Laughs]. Oyatata is the leader of a thrash metal band called Mud Tiger (Deadra), which you should also check out. By the way, Oyatata and I are also in a thrash metal band called Total Destructor.

All images courtesy of Dying Victims PR

How would you compare Rise or Fall to the previous EPs?

Not surprisingly, the songs are also much better than the EP so far, as it’s an album of only the most confident material of the time. As for the recording, the engineer was very particular about the guitar recordings, so the sound quality is good.

Which markets outside of Japan is Risingfall eager to conquer?

Of course, I’d love to have European and German metalheads listen to this album. Living in Japan, Germany and Scandinavia seem like utopias for metal. In Japan, metal is already not so big because people believe Europe, especially Germany and Scandinavia, is metal-friendly. Maybe that’s the green on the other side. At least I envy them just for having big metal festivals because there are no metal festivals in Japan anymore.

What are the band’s plans for the next few years?

Some demo songs already exist, and we want to make a second album as soon as possible. Maybe we’ll also release a slightly different EP, I don’t know because the EP will really have a somewhat different flavor, but I’d love to have the album handled by Dying Victims Productions again.

All images courtesy of Dying Victims PR

Dylan Peggin (@Record_Spinner) is a contributor for www.vwmusicrocks.com and may be reached at recordspinner97@gmail.com

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