What happens when a vampire vocalist meets a mysterious serial killer sound producer? Although this may seem like a hypothetical question, it has already been answered. Enter the energetic dark sounds of the extremely charismatic band Aural Vampire. Although known to the world mostly for their chic, Anime and Lolita inspired Gothic fashion, Japan has a vibrant underground music scene. Active for over a decade, Aural Vampire have established themselves as the premier Japanese Gothic band. They are very J-Pop heavy, but combine strong elements of Industrial, rock, and Darkwave to their music. I would say this former duo has created the perfect blend of East meets West music for the discerning Gothic ear. If you have not heard them before, I suggest you give a listen.
Aural Vampire began simply as two kids in high school who shared a love for 70’s and 80’s horror movies. Exo-Chika was a natural performer who loved to sing and dance. Raveman avoided social situations, and preferred to spend his time collecting and playing with sounds. The almost natural result was a collaboration. For their stage presence, Exo-Chika embraced her love for vampires, although her style goes way beyond her pointed fangs. Raveman donned a sadistic mask, and became the image of the horrific slasher. Together they would create a world of Gothic horror, although they didn’t fully realize what culture they were about to appeal to, or what culture would embrace them.
Exo-Chika and Raveman began primarily as a live band. In 2004, they released their first full-length album, “Vampire Ecstasy,” on an independent label. The CD was very Pop oriented, but embraced the darker side of the duo within the lyrics, voice sampling, and heavy electronic beats. In 2005, Aural Vampire released an online single, “Death Folder.” The next three years would see the duo remain very active as a live band, but not active in the recording studio. In 2007, the band saw their first overseas trip, and toured Germany. Their popularity was growing.
In 2008, Aural Vampire was signed to the major label Avex Trax. Later that year, they released three self-titled EP’s, and were invited to perform at Anime Matsuri in Houston, Texas. This was only the beginning of their convention appearances. Aural Vampire was welcomed back to Anime Matsuri in 2010, and performed at various events throughout Germany, including AnimagiC. Their name was becoming known among Anime fans and Goths worldwide. In 2010, Aural Vampire released their first full-length album under Avex Trax titled, “Zoltank.” This CD was still heavily J-Pop oriented, but contained stronger elements of Rock and German-Industrial influences than their previous works. Following their release, the duo embarked on their first North American tour. In 2011, the duo released the EP “Kerguelen Vortex,” and it would be their last through Avex Trax.
2012 saw a lot of changes for Aural Vampire. First, the duo signed with Yottabyte Records. Next came the additions of new band members Wu-CHY (Bass), Higuchuuhei (Guitar), ZEN (Keyboards), and IZU (Drums). They were now a six piece act. With the new lineup, Aural Vampire released their third full-length CD titled “Razors on Backstreet.” It was the first to not feature front-woman Exo-Chika on the cover. Instead, they opted for total soundmaster Raveman, depicting a play on the 80’s horror hit, Nightmare on Elm Street. The new album swayed heavier towards the rock side of music, bringing an even darker feel to their already macabre sound.
Aural Vampire has the distinguishing honor of being the most popular Gothic band from a country rich in the dark underground. Their sense of horror style blended with Japanese Anime has brought them international attention. People are captivated by Exo-Chika’s fangs, which are, in fact, permanent. Raveman is never seen without a mask. He even has one to eat with, which further adds to the band’s mystique. Then there is the music. It’s catchy, fun, and sadistically twisted. Although Aural Vampire has been active for over a decade, I feel this is only the beginning of what is going to be an international underground love affair with the former duo. Aural Vampire’s sound is growing, widening it’s appeal, and the world is taking notice.