Matthew Kiichi Heafy’s IBARAKI joined by Gerard Way on “Rōnin”
Ihsahn of Emperor also appears on the track. IBARAKI’s song fluidly crosses the musical spectrum. We hear delicately arranged instrumentals, driving, sinewy guitar lines and the brutal churning rhythms of black metal.
“Rōnin” features a minimalist, black-and-white video. The visual focuses on a singular subject, clad in a plain suit. At first, they seem to be simply going about the day. Gradually, the situation becomes more intense. The figure arrives somehwere bearing a sword, only to find a person quietly seated next to a dead body. Throughout the video, geometric shapes and cascading fractals appear both in their own frames and on screens seen within the character’s universe.
The video is open-ended and ripe for interpretation. Kiichi offers little by way of explanation, leaving freedom to the listener to make sense of the song and video.
“A rōnin is a masterless warrior,” Kiichi explains. “The final two full compositions on Rashōmon see a significant shift musically. The album as a whole — with the exception of the intro and outro — is actually presented in chronological order of earliest written to latter-most. The actual guitar and bass tracks are a time-capsule of sorts in that their parts — on the final album — is actually from the year they were tracked.”
Kiichi further spoke about the structure of the album and the vision for it. IBARAKI’s upcoming album has been in the writing proccess since 2010.
“One can begin to see the shifts as the years went on for the writing of the album,” Kiichi explains. “‘Kagutsuchi’/‘Ibaraki-’ being written and tracked in 2010/2011, all the way up to ‘Rōnin'/'Susanoo No Mikoto’ being written and tracked in 2016/2017.”
Kiichi also explained the shared passion and inspiration that united him with Way and Ihsahn. While their musical careers might not be an obvious pairing, “Rōnin” makes their synergy more than clear. In this spirit, Kiichi details the collaboration.
“Gerard Way has been a long-time inspiration for me — like Ihsahn and Nergal — I have looked to Gerard as a constant source of motivation to be creative,” he says. “While Gerard and I may be from different genres than where Ibaraki and black metal stem from — outsiders of sorts — the spirit and intent of our performances is what unites our passion for pushing boundaries.”
If “Rōnin” is any indication, IBARAKI’s Rashōmon will also push boundaries. Check out the new video below. Rashōmon arrives May 6 via Nuclear Blast.
1. “Hakanaki Hitsuzen”
4. “Jigoku Dayū”
5. “Tamashii No Houkai”
6. “Akumu” (Feat. Nergal)
8. “Rōnin” (Feat. Gerard Way)
9. “Susanoo No Mikoto” (Feat. Ihsahn)