Hard and slow

If you’re loud, you’re more than likely fast. And if you’re slow, you’re more than likely quiet.

fra-foa, however, turn those expectations on their presumptuous heads.

The hard-rocking quartet from Japan have based its entire repertoire on slow, menacing songs with ear-crunching volume.

fra-foa’s debut album, Chuu no Fuchi, is a near-uniform collection of slow to mid-tempo rockers that are introspective one minute, chest-tearing the next.

Singer Mikami Chisako has been compared to Cocco, and in videos, Mikami flails around very similarly to Okinawa’s hardest rocking woman. But where Cocco’s pristine voice soars, Mikami roughens her throat and drags listeners into the aural equivalent of a mud pit.

When she growls at the chorus of “Mahiru no Himitsu”, it’s primal, and it’s beautifully chilling.

Most albums by Japanese artists average eleven tracks and clock in at around 45 minutes. The nine tracks on Chuu no Fuchi fall 10-minutes short of an hour.

As such, fra-foa’s songs unfold slowly and deliberately. The lack of discernible tempo changes between tracks might lull more inattentive listeners into boredom, but the forcefullness of fra-foa’s performance will make listeners pay close attention.

If you live with Chuu no Fuchi for a few days, melodies from “Mahiru no Himitsu”, “Aojiroi Tsuki” and “Plastic Room to Ame no Niwa” remain in your head hours after you’ve heard them.

Performing hard, rocking songs at a slow tempo is a risky enough proposition, but fra-foa have exactly what it takes to keep it interesting. Specifically, an intriguing lead singer and really good songs.

This band aims to be very hard to ignore.