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In Honor of Godzilla vs. Kong, Here are 9 Kaiju-Influenced Metal Bands

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Kaiju is the Japanese term for the strange beasts that run amok destroying cities and fighting each other in feature films. Starting with the original Godzilla film in 1954 (though King Kong was released in 1933), the world of kaiju films has since expanded to include dozens of flicks with monsters such as Gamera, Mothra or Rodan throwing their hat into the ring. Newer homages like Big Man JapanThe Host or Colossal have provided modern takes on the genre, and of course there’s the most recent entry of all: Godzilla vs. Kong, which came out on March 31.

But what about music? You’d think that the metaphor for the dangerous repercussions of nuclear war portrayed in Godzilla would be perfect fodder. 

Rock and metal history is littered with individual songs that mention these monsters, including cuts titled “Mothra” by both Anvil and Godflesh, “Biotech is Godzilla” by Sepultura and of course “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult. But more recently, bands have devoted their entire aura to the kaiju world.

To celebrate the release of the highly anticipated new film, we look at some of the heaviest bands influenced by everyone’s favorite jolly green lizard and his slimy, furry or mechanical friends and foes.  

Gojira   

The OG French phenoms themselves brilliantly borrowed Godzilla’s Japanese title (they were originally named Godzilla) to fit their big, crunchy, sonically ambitious sound like a giant green glove. The band — like Mastodon, who don’t have any songs about giant, furry, prehistoric elephants — don’t name the kaiju legend directly in any of their songs, but they don’t need to. They have taken the name and molded it into their own, thanks to the power of their music and the messages within. Take a recent song like “Amazonia,” which summons images of the lush Amazon rainforest without a giant lizard in sight.  

Jet Jaguar  

Jet Jaguar (the character) first appeared in 1973’s Godzilla vs. Megalon. Jet Jaguar (the band) first appeared in Mexico in 2014. The character is a humanoid robot who aids Godzilla in defeating Gigan, while the band are a group of five humans who aid metal in being more properly sung and filled with guitar solos. As in the Godzilla film, the band are triumphant underdogs who won a battle, when in 2017 they were afforded an opportunity to play at Wacken. Their newest album, Endless Nights, is a delightful throwback to ’80s speed metal, as nostalgic a feeling as watching Godzilla 1985.   

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<h3 id=Daikaiju  

Daikaiju may not be a metal band, but with that much fire in their live shows, they could be giving Rammstein a run for their money. The mask-wearing maniacs routinely set their drums on fire, making a concert experience look and feel like a burning city. The flames lick the limbs of the band as they jam on surfed out, psychedelic, progressive instrumentals with names like “Jellyfish Sunrise” all while looking like tattooed, half nude Jet Jaguars.  

Kaijū  

Monster Magnet couldn’t make it tonight, but we’ve got the next best thing, the album Monstermind by stoner rock band Kaijū from Milan, Italy. The 2019 effort is full of skyscraper-sized riffs and hooks fit to mesmerize man or monster. Instead of all out destruction, the band paints an image of the titans dropping acid and tripping out on the psychedelic lights of Shinjuku. Just imagine the spliffs Godzilla would smoke if he was so inclined.   

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<h3 id=Kaiju  

Is there enough room on this list for two bands with almost identical names? Who will win in the Kaiju band name battle of the behemoths? With this Kaiju, there is only one song to their repertoire. Their only single, “Worldkiller,” is a straightforward, hate-fueled hardcore/deathcore number full of concrete-crushing breakdowns. Imagine a 300-foot monster throwing down to this shit while people in the skyscrapers around it try in vain to stay on the edge of the pit.   

Kaiju Daisenso  

What is a battle between two monsters in the heart of Tokyo’s city center if not powerviolence? New York’s Kaiju Daisenso evoke the campy spirit of kaiju films with various movie samples introducing their tracks, which mix hardcore, grind and metal into one pissed-off, giant Japanese monster. Dedicated to their craft, their albums keep the all-out monster war theme strong, with titles like Radiation Scars and Reptilian Majesty, while the songs focus on individual film moments like “Oxygen Destroyer” or “Jet Jaguar A Go Go.” They even do a mean cover of Sepultura’s “Biotech is Godzilla.” Buy their album on cassette in radioactive green or atomic breath blue!  

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<h3 id=Kongh   

Gojira vs. Kongh! That damn dirty ape finally gets some representation in the form of Sweden’s Kongh, who provide a nice soundtrack for trudging through the swamps of Skull Island. The band is a hairy, sludgy affair, taking musical cues from Mastodon in the form of aggravated verse grunting with clean vocal parts reminiscent of Layne Staley. Their Sole Creation album features a portrait of the gigantic gorilla looming over a forest, its eyes without pupils. I am doubting love will sway its animalistic urges.

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<h3 id=Gigan  

The buzzsaw-abdomen’ed, hook-handed space reptile Gigan is given proper worship by this Chicago death metal band. The frenetic and chaotic nature of the music sounds like being in the center of a battle on a planet in which gravity is minimal and days are merely blinks. Imagine that buzzsaw as an instrument; Gigan try their best to emulate the chaotic sound the cyborg might create along with Mechagodzilla on drums and Jet Jaguar on bass.

Oxygen Destroyer   

The oxygen destroyer is the weapon which finally vanquishes Godzilla at the climax of the original 1954 film. This Seattle band aims to vanquish any sense of coming up for air as well, with a frenzied blast of death metal fit to level a city. On their Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death album, you will find 10 tracks orchestrated by Lord Kaiju and friends based around the satisfying destruction these monsters bring with them on film. Imagine Carcass, though less surgical and more nuclear.  

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