The Future is Animated: 15 Anime Grind, Slam, and Death Metal Bands
Let’s face it: a lot of bands and musicians out there today are into anime. And why not? Shows like Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon were often a big part of this generation of musicians’ young lives. Instead of being coy or shy about this interest or worried about being labelled weebs, bands have been embracing the idea of infusing anime into their work. Often, the result is a brutal death metal/slam album featuring a bloody album cover depicting a some kind of mutilated schoolgirl along with gruesome song titles.
The thing about anime (including manga) though, is that there are so many aspects to highlight – it doesn’t have to be all-sexual or all-blood and guts (ero guro/erotic gore). Bands like Human Instrumentality Project and Houkago Grind Time have defied the stereotype, with HIP composing concept albums based on Neon Genesis Evangelion as intricate as any band culling influence from a 10-book fantasy epic.
The genre is also not an all-boys club, despite the album covers suggesting so. It is home to a range of individuals under different orientations, from different parts of the world who all share a similar vision. Here are some of those visions: 15 bands who have inked a bond with the world of anime.
Love or hate this wave of anime-inspired metal, Prague’s Jig Ai are to thank for at least some of the influence on the modern specimens practicing this style. Their debut, self-titled album from 2006 was weeb before the word was popularized, with songs like “Fresh Manga Flesh” being blueprints for what the genre would be (though it has evolved past being just about a fixation on flesh and gore). Their latest release is 2019’s Entrails Tsunami. The height and dark shade of red of the tsunami as depicted on the album cover ensures that when listening to any new Jig-Ai releases, they will be “Eternally Hard.”
Cheerleader Concubine is fronted by Toxic Loli Records owner Diana Garvin. Both the label and this band have been at the forefront of the modern wave of anime-inspired metal. Since 2007, the band has been pumping out material, while pairing up with contemporaries such as Dehumanizing Itatrain Worship. Diana says that Cheerleader Concubine, with its tongue-in-cheek presentation of the music and aesthetic, is inspired by absurdist artists like Shintaro Kago.
If there was any album cover which represented the NSFW nature that some anime-grind bands relish in, it would be Go-Zen’s Hitoshizuku. The prolific ero guro artist Uziga Waita did the cover, and looking at the uncensored version might put you on some watch lists. More of his work can be found on albums by dark idol group Necronomidol and Lord Gore. As for Go-Zen, they could be considered a second-wave anime-grind band – influenced by Jig-Ai and taking the extreme aesthetic of the music and art to the limit. Their latest release was a Last Days of Humanity cover in 2021.
King of Taiwan’s underground extreme metal scene Larry Wang’s most famous export is Gorepot. Wang utilizes different themes for each of his bands, and for Gorepot, his secret stash consists of weed tropes, ero guro art and song titles, with a heavy dose of dark, absurdist humor. For pure anime-inspired brutal grind, check out School Girl Sashimi. Albums such as Asian Stoned Effect feature art by Necrodeviant, whose style evokes a sort of shroomed-out high – the perfect mood to be in when listening to Gorepot.
Human Instrumentality Project
Guangzhou, China’s Human Instrumentality Project captivated metal and anime fans alike with their 2021 EP, The Brutal Angel’s Thesis. The band take influence from the anime classic Neon Genesis Evangelion with a state-of-the-art mashup of brutal deathcore and musical motifs from the series. Their latest album, LCL Sea, expands upon this idea, being a complex effort that gives credence to the idea of citing anime as an influence the same as a band would cite, say, H.P. Lovecraft.
Dehumanizing Itatrain Worship
China’s Dehumanizing Itatrain Worship took the internet by storm with their debut EP μ’Sick. The song “Brutal Rush” spun heads and was subject to numerous reaction videos. The band is a studio one at the moment and are spiritually influenced by the Love Live! anime series. Their upcoming full-length album Otakuslam♡Animecide expands their reach by featuring a myriad of guest stars while featuring another iconic piece of ero guro album art by 南极君.
Houkago Grind Time
Andrew Lee, shredder for Ripped to Shreds and about a dozen other bands, puts his weeb gear on for Houkago Grind Time. Inspired by the anime series K-On!, Lee turns up the ferocity, but also self-awareness by simultaneously poking fun at and celebrating this strange obsession some of us have with Japanese culture. Brutal stuff, but without the needless misogynistic or overtly violent imagery that often comes with anime-inspired metal. If you live in Taiwan of Japan, catch Mr. Lee and Grind Time this December.
While anime grind or slam is currently experiencing a mild surge in popularity, some bands who emerged during the genre’s infant stages were overlooked. This is the case with Agent 0, a “Touhou brutal death metal band” from Tokyo, Japan. The band formed in 2010 and their debut album Floral Death Violation was released back in 2012 and has inspired artists such as Kiryu Zhang, vocalist for Dehumanizing Itatrain Worship. Perhaps we will hear a collaboration in the future?
Schoolgirl Upon Thy Corpse
Out of Moscow, Russia, Schoolgirl Upon Thy Corpse is an electronic anime grind project by musician J. Inspired by Cheerleader Concubine, Jig-Ai and Go-Zen, Schoolgirl Upon Thy Corpse is a part of the Toxic Loli Records roster and takes an unconventional approach to both songwriting and the presented aesthetic to accompany the music. Instead of shocking gore images, the album covers are tame, though aesthetically pleasing (even the album cover for Goregy is more implied than anything).
Utah based project Bokunopicono mash up death metal, goregrind and death core to create what they call gore-core. Their debut release, via Toxi Loli Records, is The Thrill of the Kill, featuring breakdowns and savagery not unlike the stuff you’d find in a Jun Hayami one-shot. The album cover here is another for the record books – this time Thailand’s Blackbible makes an impact, with a nasty piece that resembles Uziga Waita’s Go-Zen effort – call it a spiritual sequel.
Morbid Gorgeous Girl
Costa Rica’s Morbid Gorgeous Girl don’t exclusively use anime art for album covers, but when they do, they make it count. The band is inspired by “the brutalism of serial killers,” which is obvious when peering at song titles such as “Photos of Dismembered Corpses” and their non-anime album covers being Carcass/goregrind inspired photos/collages of vivid, real depictions of gore. Their latest release, though, Swine Abattoir, joins the ranks of infamous ero guro album covers, being like if Hellraiser joined universes with Sailor Moon.
One of the hardest band names to say out loud (better to use the abbreviated OxEx), this project from Quebec, Canada join Human Instrumentality Project as being one of the followers of the Neon Genesis Evangelion gospel, with music inspired by bands like Disentomb and Deathspell Omega. Of note is their album art for The Rotten Plinch of Sachiel, illustrated by Japanese artist Mei Maro. Her other work includes covers for bands like Urobilinemia and Ayakasi Kagura.
Another project conceptualized by one sick MF, UwU is the result of the efforts of musician Kannnibal, located in Kingman, Arizona. His 2018 debut, Fuck U Carcass, has an Anal Cunt sort of spirit, with colorful titles such as “I Took Your Dog to a Kill Shelter.” Kannnibal is a musician who is never at a loss for ideas, as since this debut, he’s released over 30 singles, along with a few EPs and full-lengths. Albums like Anime Girl Extinction take the AxCx spirit and mend it with the world of anime – hey, they’re not real, so they can’t get offended. At the time of this writing, UwU has announced an indefinite hiatus, so browse the back catalog and hope for more madness in the future.
Argentinean group Septic Karnage are another band representing the self-aware, brutal, perverse and proud “slamming anime grind” wave of musicians. Formed in 2020, they, from the onset, created terms that are best associated with this movement – Weebgrind, Gore N’ Kawaii and so on. Dehumanization Decay is their latest effort, featuring songs like “A Violent Scene of Gore Hentai” with lyrics that will have you reaching for a bar of soap.
So, it has come to this – an album released by, basically, an anime character. Obkatiekat is a VTuber who debuted in 2021. From the UK, the VTuber utilizes an animated “model” to host her videos. As with most streamers, Twitch streams, rating videos and shorts are on her page, but notably also guitar covers of songs from Babymetal, Ice Nine Kills and Arch Enemy. In April, 2023, her debut instrumental album was then released. The seven-track album is nothing to be scoffed at, being a technically sound and hard-hitting effort, while also prying open new boundaries on who or what the musician is that is attributed to the music, which is on par for the challenging nature of anime-inspired metal.