Virtuosity Defined – Raiju

Illustration by Chasing Photons

Illustration by Chasing Photons

According to Wikipedia:

Raijū (雷獣,”thunder animal” or “thunder beast”) is a legendary creature from Japanese mythology. Its body is composed of lightning and may be in the shape of a cat, fox, weasel, or wolf. The form of a white and blue wolf (or even a wolf wrapped in lightning) is also common. It may also fly about as a ball of lightning (in fact, the creature may be an attempt to explain the phenomenon of lightning). Its cry sounds like thunder.

Raiju is the companion of Raijin, the Shinto god of lightning. While the beast is generally calm and harmless, during thunderstorms it becomes agitated and leaps about in trees, fields, and even buildings (trees that have been struck by lightning are said to have been scratched by Raiju’s claws).

Another of Raiju’s peculiar behaviors is sleeping in human navels. This prompts Raijin to shoot lightning arrows at Raiju to wake the creature up, and thus harms the person in whose belly the demon is resting. Superstitious people therefore often sleep on their stomachs during bad weather, but other legends say that Raiju will only hide in the navels of people who sleep outdoors.

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Even more powerful and legendary is Raiju from the San Francisco/Berkeley area of California. Formed in March of 2013 “in the bowels of Craigslist”, Raiju has developed a modern sound that resonates across multiple genres and styles over the musical landscape. While they categorize themselves as Metal, Progressive Metal, Heavy Rock and Melodic Grind with inklings of Pop; what my buddies and I came up with is an audio orgy of Coheed and Cambria, Dream Theater, Twelve Foot Ninja, Periphery and Byzantine with hints of Classical and Fusion sprinkled throughout. Confused yet? Don’t worry about it, because Raiju’s music is STUPID good; just f*cking SICK! I don’t know where the hell these guys get off playing shit this well. This is the stuff that other musicians will listen to and find inspiration or just give up the ghost because “I would never be able to do that”. You get it. I am impressed. Exit rant…

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Let’s move on and meet the band, shall we? According to information on various sites on the Net and my new friend and bass player Max Coley, drummer Vinne Hecht and guitarist Bobby Carroll have been playing together since they were young ‘uns, starting and playing with many bands in their formative years. When starting what would become Raiju, they posted a Craiglist ad which netted them vocalist Scott Wagner who was originally from Hawaii and is said to have “cut his teeth whilst strolling the starry walks of Hollywood.” Hailing from the panhandle of Florida, classically trained upright bass player extraordinaire Max Coley moved to the West Coast to broaden his musical horizons and found himself in the clutches of what was developing in San Fran answering the same ad. Finally, with the addition of a one man Metal act out of Chico, Sean Johnson on guitars, Raiju was completed and remains unchanged over the three years since their inception. Influences on this uniquely talented band run the gambit. Bobby grew up with the Pop/Punk influences like Blink182, Vinnie with bands like Slipknot, Scotty on Hawaiina Punk and Rock, Sean with Progressive bands like The Dear Hunter and Max digging Florida Death Metal gods like Hate Eternal and Cannibal Corpse. These diverse tastes and influences are what give Raiju such an incredible heavy, Progressive Metal sound since everything surfaces when they write and play together. Obviously, this is a players band with a virtuosic capacity for musical structure, composition and playing ability rarely shared by every single musician in the band. From their Facebook page: “Raiju is music for fans of thunderous drums, guitar pyrotechnics, extremely advanced bassics, and vocals that alternately crush and soothe you at seemingly random intervals. If you are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant, Raiju may still be for you.” Huh. A sense of humor and sarcasm. Go figure since wit usually follows brains, right? Anyway, Raiju’s music has all of the above, and then some, but their composition is what strikes me the most. Impossibly weaving an ever changing tempo and musical color spectrum that all but flows through some of the coolest riffs, heaviest rhythms, complex drumming and other-worldly bass lead/rhythm lines create a signature sound that make Raiju so damned distinct and interesting to listen to. Definitely a wild and entertaining rides around that must be heard to be believed.

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Raiju has two releases: A three song demo which includes “Ugly, Mean Pigeon”, “The Ride of the Chechen” and “Later, Sooner” and their self-titled release in 2015 with “Red Thread”, “The KoolAid”, “Yetzer Hara”, “Ugly, Mean Pigeon”, “Blood Sugar”, “The Ride of the Chechen”, “Our Fate Motive” and “Haunt”. Everything is killer, different and a roller-coaster ride of sonic excellence. Simply bad-ass, start to finish. Right now, Raiju is going light on the shows in favor of working on new material for an album due out within the next year. Until then, check out the stream below to see what has me all excited. Needless to say, with wider exposure and support, Raiju should have no problem quickly emerging into the world Metal scene. Way too damned much like with this band!

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More on Raiju can be found on: Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  BandCamp  ReverbNation  CDBaby  Flickr

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Odyssey

About Odyssey

I have had a life-long love of music, but from the first time I heard Kiss and Black Sabbath with my landlord's son in Nicholasville, KY in the mid 70's, I have been hooked on Hard Rock and Metal. While my tastes in music have done nothing but expand since then, Metal remains closest to my heart. In addition, I have played bass, still play guitar and have literally 1000's of CDs/MP3s, so my knowledge is long steeped and honest. I don't buy the whole splintered, sub-genres thing and choose to like bands and music based solely on individual merits. Obviously, this is always colored by my mood, what I need at any given point and time and what is generally pleasing to my ear. I also don't like to rip any music or band, instead having an open mind and ear for it all because I have a passion for it all. It is completely subjective and in a constant state of flux. Consider me a music "nerd" not a music "snob". As an extension of this love, I hope to share this passion with everyone here and learn from your passion as well! - Odyssey -

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