BAAL. Japanese Industrial Cyberpunk band.

How to describe the awesomeness that is Baal? Think hard rock/metal/industrial  – or as they describe themselves “Cybernetic Heavy Industrial Rock,” transcending industrial, electro and modern heavy rock styles.

Baal is
  • U-tarou: Vocals
  • MIKITO: Guitars, programming, synth, concepts
  • Chihiro: Drums
I’ll let the Gauntlet  describe the band’s beginnings:

BAAL came into being in June 2005 as the next step for CHRONOTRIGGER, the band’s former name. In both guises, the band has been at the forefront of spreading the Digital Heavy Industrial sound concept throughout Japan’s underground scene.

As CHRONOTRIGGER, the band played many shows across Japan’s industrial and dark music scenes including Android 666, the Kobe Underground Festival and Auto-Mod’s Tokyo Dark Castle. During this period, the band also released its demo CD featuring the tracks “On the Surface” and “Judgment.”

In 2005, the industrial event “JUNK CHILDREN#1” was held in Japan, headlined by BAAL and Despair. In the same year, BAAL released their debut single CD “Bloody_Logic_Communication” to rave reviews.

2006 saw BAAL hitting the overseas market and gaining good exposure. In November they toured Germany for the first time.

U-Tarou appeared on the cover of Astan Magazine in Germany, and a 4 page interview appeared in The Dose, (download it here). This issue focused largely on the Tokyo scene and also featured Sisen, Aural Vampire, Psydoll, Blood, D’espairs Ray and Australia’s own (and very awesome) Angelspit!

In November 2006 their first mini-album was released: “TERRITORY OF B.A.A.L”.

June 2008 saw BAAL touring Australia for the first time (performing gigs in Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney) with ANGELSPIT on their “Splatterball” tour. They released their new album “RELIGION 616”, in conjunction with the tour.

BAAL’s second Germany tour (Berlin, Chemnitz,Koln) took place in March 2007, and was even more successful than their first. They also did a fantastically dark and moody photoshoot with brilliant alternative scene photographer Viona, which you can see more of here.

In July 2009 BAAL organized their own event, “King of Evil 13” – and the second one will be held next month in Shinjuku (which I’ll be attending!)

The band continues to play at clubs such as Tokyo Dark Castle and are well known on the Tokyo and Osaka scenes. BAAL has also remixed tracks for several well-known artists including ANGELSPIT, LEFT SPINE DOWN and Spectrum-X to name a few.

For more, see the official BAAL website, or go to their MySpace to hear the raw power of BAAL.

I’d like to also talk about the other side of the equation – the great people that U-tarou and Miki are personally.  Baal had met Angelspit on a European tour, where they hung out and bonded, and planned to one day tour together. I then met Baal when they came to Australia for the Splatterb
all tour.

As I was mates with Amelia and Karl, I got introduced to Miki and U-tarou. Another friend Briony was the merch girl for Angelspit, as well as interpreter, so she got to know the gang really well.
When Briony and I hit Tokyo last year, we hung out a lot with U-tarou and Miki, and I soon came to love them as well. They are really funny people, ridiculously generous, and humble, with no rockstar pretensions whatsoever.
Here are a bunch of pics from my visit last March/April.
Having arvo tea in Shinjuku, U-tarou had iced coffee and got BRAIN FREEZE!!

Then on Saturday, we descended on Harajuku, visited Takuya Angel and hung out with Sisen (here’s the video of the day).

They even came out to Alamode with us – and knowing everyone in the goth scene there, got us backstage to the green room! You’ll see quite a few familiar faces below. We took lots of pics (and drank lots of beer!)

GPK was there (Briony is to the right with the gorgeous make-up and lashes)
And then after the club, drunk and silly, we took MORE photos…

That’s more than enough for one post. I can’t WAIT to get back there, see these guys live at King of Evil 13, and just have more fun. Check Baal’s music out – if you like hardcore, I think you’ll be impressed!

Blogs to Inspire

I haven’t yet done a blogroll, so I’d like to do a post about the blogs that have inspired me, and continue to bring me great enjoyment day to day. Often, really good blogs are that way because of the personalities who write them. Each of these bring me something different and delightful, and I hope you’ll check them out, if you haven’t read them already.


My fave would have to be Madness and Beauty.

Violet Dear (as she calls herself) writes such beautiful prose, it almost moves you to tears. Violet spent a year living and travelling in Asia, which she documents beautifully. Every post is meticulously researched, so that you almost feel an expert by the time you’ve come to the end of it. 

She doesn’t post a lot of photos, as she is able to paint such a beautiful picture with her words. Each entry takes you on a journey; there is a narrative arc like a good short story, which often has a cathartic ending. You feel you’ve been through an experience, seeing places and people through her eyes.

She can be preachy at times, and I don’t always agree with her (for example, she totally writes off Vang Vieng in Laos without having been there – it’s incredibly beautiful scenery folks; don’t let the tourist element put you off). But she has such passion for the places she HAS been, and writes with such conviction,  that even where she gets some aspect of the culture or language a bit wrong, you easily bypass and forgive.

And she is funny. Whether directed at something absurd she has seen or even directed at herself and her own expectations and reactions, her observations are hilarious.

She is a consummate worsdmith, and if you don’t have the travel bug before you read her blog, you soon will have.

Japanese Pop Culture

The award here goes to La Carmina.

When I myself first decided to go to Japan (and start a blog in the near future), I started googling around on all things Japanese, and especially to do with Gothic lolita fashion. I found her blog, and was instantly hooked. This was a year ago. I went to Tokyo last November – and Carmen herself was there! We met up at the first goth nightclub there I visited, Alamode Night, and had a great time.

Carmen has an extensive knowledge of gothic lolita fashion labels, of alternative and gothic clubs over there, and an obvious love of the culture, all of which she showcases in her blog. She has even gone into Tokyo gothic fashion stores where you’re not supposed to take photos, and done just that! So everyone can see what the Black Peace Now store, for example, looks like.

Carmen also features bento box lunches (aka Cute Cooking), weird cafes and restaurants over there, Visual kei and J-rock bands, horror films, her own scottish fold cat Basil Farrow, and much more.

Author of several books and subject of many newspaper articles, she has co-hosted an episode of Bizarre Food, and has more exciting things in the works. Currently Carmen writes for, which is a fantastic website itself, especially if you love Asia.

I enjoy that Carmen is keen on discovering aspects of alternative culture, and sharing them with us. People in the goth scene may quibble with her assertion that she’s a goth herself, but there’s no doubt she has aspirations to explore the scene, along with other subcultures. And she definitely has weird, wonderful wacky friends in various scenes, who contribute to her blog and show us the edgier aspects of these.

On the cusp of celebrity-hood, Carmen still takes the time to answer all comments made on her blog, on facebook and on Twitter. For all her obvious abilities at self promotion (and she has haters because of that), she also has many friends, and impresses me that she takes time to connect with people. If you love Japanese fashion and culture, you’ll want to read her blog.


This is an obvious one, perhaps – Doe Deere of Lime Crime make-up.

Like me, Doe (real name Xenia Vorotova) loves bright colours. And she is obsessed with make-up.

But she has gone ahead and created her own make-up line! Now, others have done this – or at least put their name to make-up lines – but she is totally involved in the testing, production, packaging – the lot! It really IS her line, and she is constantly working to expand the brand.

I love the amazing colours – she even has an aqua blue lipstick! As someone who has had to resort to eye pencils over the years, this is a nice change. There are bright and pale pinks, purples, oranges and more… The eyeshadows/glitters likewise are intense in pigment, and glide on beautifully.

As to her blog itself the Doe Deere blogazine, she has amazing make-up how to’s, crafty DIYs, inspiring fashion shoots, personal messages, shots from her house, and more. She is an entrepreneur, a quality which I admire, as I am far from a self-starter myself.

If you love bright colours and make-up, you MUST check this out.

Style icon and friend

This previously-from-Sydney girl  is a performer, artist, designer, and all-round prodigy of sorts – Amelia Arsenic, aka DestroyX.

Her stunningly designed blog makes you gasp with its attention to style detail. The graphics, layout, typography, photography, are close to perfection, as Amelia is a consummate graphic designer herself (her degree is in this area).

She also has her fabulous partner Zoog, who takes the amazing shots that grace her pages (no putting on the self-timer and running to pose in place like many of us!) He forms the oth
er half of Angelspit, the cyberpunk industrial band they formed in 2004. You can read more about the band here, (I’m the girl with the red cocktail hat peering through the opera glasses at the top of the page!) Angelspit have just completed a gruelling tour through the US with KMFDM, and Amelia will be sharing photos from the tour shortly in her blog.

One of the regular features is a look of the week, where she presents a distinctive fashion and make-up look, with details on the products used and how to achieve the look. Amelia launched her make-up line Miss X Aesthetic Laboratories earlier this year and the line is available from the SurgeonX webstore.

Her outfits are  immaculately put together, showcasing her talent as a fashion stylist,  but she goes one step further by creating a character for each look.  Like here:

She has a regular column on design, where she shares the design process of projects she’s working on. There’s also an advice column where she answers readers’ queries, and behind the scenes autobiographical posts too.

As to the lady herself, Amelia is a lot shyer in person than you might expect, and self-effacing despite her huge talent and prodigious output.

I first met her back in, oh probably 2003. We frequented the Sydney goth club scene and you couldn’t fail to notice her amazing style. When I first got into fake hair extensions, she was the first one to put my dreads in for me, and I got to know her and Zoog as the hours passed (he would ply us with coffee and Tim Tams while Amelia worked).  At clubs, when the stompiest industrial music came on, we’d storm the dancefloor and strut our stuff.

It was apparent even then, that everything Amelia put her hand to, she put her heart and soul into. Some of us dabble in things and make half-hearted attempts; she puts 100% effort in until she gets it right. That is why she is so extraordinarily good at what she does – she works, and works on it, until it’s as close to perfect as she can live with. There’s no doubt she is creatively gifted, amazingly so. But many others are gifted, but don’t push themselves in the way she (and Zoog) does.

After a long hiatus of 6 or 7 months, DestroyX the blog is back, and I encourage you to step into the dark stylish world therein.

I haven’t touched on the fashion blogs I enjoy, or other blogs about Japan and Asia in general, but that’s a long enough post for now.  What are YOUR fave blogs, and icons?