The quartet’s latest single jump-ropes between heavy rock and lither pop sounds.
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19 Apr 2017 - 10:39 AM  UPDATED 19 Apr 2017 - 10:39 AM

J-Pop has gotten a lot louder in recent years, especially when you look at new idol groups that have sprung up across the country.

Once the dominion of fluttery synthesisers and vocal harmonising, the style has seen a boom in acts embracing chugging guitar riffs and throat-ruining howls. It’s tempting to attribute this all to BABYMETAL, but while there emergence (and global popularity) certainly has helped give it a boost, they aren’t the sole source of this phenomenon, as harsher outfits poking at idol-world tropes such as BiS played just as pivotal a role.

Although far from being the mainstream norm, these harsher idols (sometimes referred to as “alternative idols") are gaining visibility. PassCode, who formed in 2014, are especially on an upward trend. They meld aggressive loud elements with radio-ready passages, usually come the chorus. They’ve gone from underground project to a major label, and forthcoming single “Bite The Bullet” showcases why they stand out from the noisy masses.

The song above — available in “short version” — starts off as cacophonous as it possibly can. Synths sting away while the first vocals heard are throaty screams, giving “Bite The Bullet” an immediate sense of urgency. From there, the pace settles down a bit, but only for the verses to be delivered in a distorted, sing-rap style, all while guitar rips through them. But then a funny thing happens, everything turns more melodic, auto-tune-dipped singing takes the place of the more guttural stylings that came before. The rest of “Bite The Bullet” jump-ropes between the two, catchy moments followed by quick kicks of something nastier.

Critically, PassCode aren’t settling for cliche on “Bite The Bullet.” Long before the current interest in scuzzier idol music popped up, an easy strategy to making a song that stood out from the crowd was having a song seemingly at odds with itself; metal-inspired verses leading to a bubbly chorus, or vice versa. PassCode, keep it unpredictable, letting the two sides tag team in and out, making for something more frantic. As this approach continues gaining traction, approaching it in a clever way works.

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