SKREEEOOOONNNKK: A Kaiju Adventure!

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Twenty years ago my father brought home a worn VHS recording of Godzilla, King of the Monsters! Since that day, I’ve been harboring a nerdy obsession with the colossal, irradiated kaiju. Twenty years later, my affection for the mutated Godzillosaurus and the associated kaiju eiga remains unabated. With the American Godzilla reboot stomping the Japanese market in its final major opening this past weekend and with Legendary teasing three other well-known Toho monsters for a sequel, I thought this would be an appropriate time to discuss some metal bands named after kaiju. There will likely be a few familiar names in this post, but I also hope to introduce you to some new faces.

Kaiju

Kaiju is a Japanese word meaning “strange beast,” but it has come to literally stand for monster in English, with daikaiju being the term for giant monsters (like Godzilla). For a lot of you, your first introduction to the word kaiju may have been Pacific Rim, an action film chock-full of gigantic, lumbering beasts. Kaiju come in many forms and varieties, although Japanese and American kaiju tend to each have their own typical characteristics distinct from each other. In my humble opinion, Japanese kaiju tend to be a bit more anthropomorphic and fantastical, whereas American kaiju are often more bestial and extraterrestrial in appearance.

Similarly, there are several groups called Kaiju. However, I chose to include the Kansas City incarnation who released their debut this year. This is a pretty standard death metal group that manages to work in some solid groove and atmospheric flourishes. Not really my cup of tea, but fans of Job for a Cowboy and War of Ages may find something to like here. Plus, their album is available for any price on bandcamp, and free tunes are always welcome.

Godzilla

Godzilla is easily the most infamous of all kaiju, and his indomitable presence has been a mainstay in monster movies since the 1950s. There have been a total of 30 different Godzilla movies, and I’ve seen all but four of them. Throughout his long career, Godzilla has held many differen roles, ranging from a terrifying analogy for nuclear war to a goofy icon for childhood imagination, but I’m a big fan of even his cheesiest incarnations. If you’ve never bothered to watch a Godzilla film, I would recommend that you watch the original 1954 film Gojira, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, and Godzilla, Mothra and Knig Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.

Similarly to Kaiju, there have been quite a few bands named after Godzilla (the highest-profile group with the name inevitably changed their title…), but I’ve chosen to highlight a deathgrind band from Jakarta. This group plays a sludgy/lo-fi deathgrind, and it doesn’t seem that their music is easy to find. However, the violent sound they produce harkens back to Godzilla’s rampaging origins, so if you need something to jam while you smash your cubicle, check this group out.

Rodan

 

Rodan is one of the oldest kaiju, making his first appearance just two years after Godzilla. Rodan is in my opinion one of the best giant monster films of all time, blending together horror, mystery, and city-smashing action into a cautionary tale of mankind’s tampering with the natural environment. The titular monster is a super-sized pteranodon that flies at super-sonic speeds, leaving a swath of destruction in its wake. Rodan would go on to appear in a number of Godzilla films, both fighting against and alongside Big G, and his potential appearance in the sequel to this year’s Legendary Godzilla film is hotly anticipated by kaiju fans.

Rodan was a little-known but influential math-rock group that released their sole album “Rusty” in 1994. Although not technically metal, the sinewy instrumentals and churning rhythms were definitely an influence on later mathcore and metalcore groups, and for that reason “Rusty,” much like the veteran kaiju for whom the band are named, deserves respect. Check out all of “Rusty” below.

Gigan 

Gigan is a weird cyborg chicken-monster thing that made its appearance in 1972’s Godzilla vs. Gigan. This goofy monster from the Nebula M Space Hunter galaxy, despite its comical appearance, proved to be quite the adversary to Big G. He would later go on to get a revamped and deadlier appearance in Godzilla: Final Wars, but I’ll always have a soft-spot for his nutty original design.

Much like their namesake, Gigan initially appear as just another cheesy technical death metal band. However, as the swirling notes and eerie atmosphere pull you deeper and deeper into a black hole, you suddenly realize that this band is very good at what it does. Gigan are definitely unique in the ever-growing technical wankery pile of death metal groups, and their second album, “Multi-Dimensional Fractal Sorcery and Super Science” is a creepy monster of an album. Stream it at bandcamp.

Zilla 

Zilla is the rechristened name of the monster from the oft-maligned 1998 American Godzilla reboot. Apparently die-hard Godzilla fans were so distraught over Roland Emmerich’s creation that they refused to refer to him as Godzilla, instead calling it G.I.N.O. (Godzilla in Name Only) and other disparaging titles. Eventually, Toho scooped up the license for the monster and rebranded him Zilla; they even pitted him in a quick battle against Big G in Godzilla: Final Wars. The monster, now as a rival rather than pretender to the King of the Monsters, has been reaccepted by the fan base and continues to be featured in various Godzilla media.

Zilla are a relatively new death/thrash band, and I’ve admittedly had some trouble hunting their material down. Apparently they’ve released an album called Pragmatic Evolution, and based on the video below, I would be curious to hear the rest. They play a lithe, agile death-hybrid that, much like their namesake, is more nimble than the plodding Godzilla. This is less rampage and more incursion, much like Zilla’s appearance in the recent Rulers of Earth comic run.

Jet Jaguar

Jet Jaguar is one of the stranger characters to make an appearance in the Godzilla franchise. This bizarre robot made his debut in 1973’s Godzilla vs. Megalon where he, sensing the wishes of his child owner, somehow supersized himself and helped Godzilla pummel Gigan and Megalon. The super-fast, super-flashy Jet Jaguar has since become a fan favorite among Godzilla fans, despite not making any additional appearances in any other movies. He’s definitely a unique entry into the Toho roster.

My investigation into kaiju-themed bands unearthed an underground power metal/thrash band from Mexico called Jet Jaguar. The moniker is an apt description of their flashy riffs and soaring vocals. If you dislike power metal, you’ll hate this. However, if you need some fun metal tunes, check out “Battle of the Gods” below.

Gojira

I thought I’d wrap up this piece with the biggest and baddest of them all. Gojira is Godzilla’s original name in Japanese, and the original 1954 movie is easily the best film in Toho’s entire catalogue. Before evolving into an anti-hero and Earth-defender, Godzilla was a metaphor for man’s recklessness, unleashing horrific devastation on Japan similar to the looming nightmare of nuclear annihilation. Godzilla’s original incarnation was a raging force of nature, and the cheesy special effects used in the film are still fun to watch today.

Gojira is a band that probably needs no introduction. Their sound is a crushing testament to the fury of Mother Earth and pays glorious tribute to the King of the Monsters. For those of you who have only recently checked out Gojira, I’d like to introduce you to a brutal track from their debut album.

Well, there you have it. Now that you’re all experts on giant monsters, go blast some metal and destroy your respective cities. It’s what Godzilla would want.

(Cover photo VIA) (Kaiju photo VIA) (Godzilla photo VIA) (Rodan photo VIA) (Gigan photo VIA) (Zilla photo VIA) (Jet Jaguar photo VIA) (Gojira photo VIA)

  • Fuck Matthew Broderick.

    • BACKED.

      • W.

        You know, I actually loved that movie when I was a little kid. Looking back though, it is definitely a turd.

        • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

          Same here. I loved the hell out of that movie. I had the toy and a tshirt. I was so naive.

        • Tyree

          The newest one makes me lol only because of this. I have not watched it yet, all I know is Heisenberg gets sad.

          • I liked it a lot.

            ….but Pacific Rim was like a million times better.

          • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

            The action in Pacific Rim was much better, but the acting in that movie, aside from Idris Elba and Charlie Day, was fucking atrocious.

          • oh yeah, how would YOU act if faced with Kaiju category 5 (biggest we’ve ever seen) double-event??

          • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

            I’d shit my britches. (the only good pair I’ve ever worn)

          • Tyree

            Another one I have not seen. Guillermo del Toro is a great film maker though.

          • Pagliacci is Kvlt

            I just watched Robert Rodriguez’ interview with him on El Rey this week. He’s just an all-around cool guy. Also, his commentary track for Blade II is THE most entertaining commentary track I’ve ever heard.

          • Tyree

            Cool! I’ll have to find that interview. Lol, Blade 2 was surprisingly very entertaining.

          • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

            Apparently when filming Pacific Rim the actress playing Mako got really freaked out and panicky being tossed around and sprayed with hoses acting in the Jaeger set up, so he sang the theme song from My Neighbour Totoro to calm her down.

          • RomuluxX

            Cronos is absolutely phenomenal. Every time something is spilled on the floor I wanna drop down and lick it in reference, but nobody has seen it so they wouldn’t get it. *SADFACE*

          • Tyree

            Hahaha, that scene is epic.

          • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

            On a recent rewatch having not seen it since I was barely a teen I was a bit disappointed in how thickly it laid on its message, that kinda approach tends to make me roll my eyes a little. But for the most part its still a 90’s horror highlight.

          • KJM

            His new TV show The Strain is incredible, best vampire related TV series since Kolchak or Salem’s Lot.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            Kolchak was great, one of the few shows that scared me when i was a kid, my favorite episodes off the top of my head were the one with tom skerrit who was a satanic politican, that one where the guy had a doppelganger that was looking at him through the church windows, and the one about the giant native american guy in the skyscraper. I also enjoyed night gallery, a short lived series called ghost story/circle of fear and of course classic TZ. The Zone reboots in the 80’s & 2000’s were not up to snuff in my opinion. I also loved the old Battlestar Galactica & buck rogers with gil gerard & erin grey. Really silly stuff, but entertaining at the time, i still watch them on dvd to relive the old days. I had a major collection of star wars myself, i was also heavily into micronauts if you remember them. I had a pile of the mego figures too, mostly superheros , but i liked the planet of the apes figures too. Fuck, they were like $3.98 and now in the box you can get 2 to 3 hundred or more for them.

          • KJM

            I had a bunch of Micronauts including Baron Karza, the Vader ripoff. I still have a few back issues of the comic hiding out in the closet.

            One of the great things about Netflix instant is all the Kolchak eps are right there whenever I want to watch them. I wish they’d get Night Gallery too.

          • Scrimm

            And now they are apparently remaking Kolchak with Johnny Depp. Fuck.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            jesus christ, didn’t he do enough damage to the legacies of dark shadows & the lone ranger. The truth of it is he hasn’t been making good movies for quite some time now. His days of being a huge box office draw are over.

          • W.

            Joe, Legendary teased last week (I think, the days are blending together) that they’ve secured the licenses for Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidora for the sequels.

          • ooooh dang. I’m going to watch the hell out of that.

          • Mother Shabubu III

            Pacific Rim is awesome. I love the people who complained about the lack of character development or bad dialogue or whatever. It’s a fucking kaiju/monster movie! I just want to see massive monsters kick the shit out of each other.

          • triple arm technique… very effective

          • It was a reboot, of sorts. I think Godzilla 2 will kick it up to 11, but then again, Pacific Rim 2 (which is in the works) will probably kick it up to 15. 🙂

            Loved both movies… fuck critics in the ass with a big rubber dick.

          • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

            I really enjoyed the new one. Don’t bank on Heisenberg alone for the movie being good, that’s all I’ll say.

          • W.

            I really enjoyed it, even if it was a little light on the monster action. Don’t go in expecting great character development, though.

          • Mother Shabubu III

            I have yet to see the new Godzilla, but I don’t know how I’ll be able to take Tim Whatley in a serious role.

          • Mother Shabubu III

            Who is Walter White? The Breaking Bad character he played? I have yet to watch that show.

          • consider your life about to be changed.

          • Mother Shabubu III

            It took me 5 years to get around to watching Fullmetal Alchemist, so maybe in another 5 years I’ll appreciate Breaking Bad, haha.

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          I saw the 98 version at the theatre and was as excited as shit. It was a lot better on the big screen i think, but i was never able to sit through it a second time. Actually the creature in cloverdale was fucking cool. I hate that found footage hand held camera shit though. When the statue of liberty’s head came flying and crashing onto the street that was worth the price of admission right there.

    • Mother Shabubu III

      and fuck Jerry Davis

    • Tyree

      But, he saved the chimpanzees. They escaped on a plane! The chimpanzees flew a plane!

  • Steve Smithwick

    Dubya, my man, your articles are very thoughtful and entertaining and I really like the way you write. It’s thought-provoking for the audience, and now I think I need to re-evaluate my entertainment choices because I’m only familiar with Gojira (and that includes the movies as well!) of all the things you mention.

    • W.

      Thanks, homey. My wife thinks my fondness for cheesy monster movies is a bit ridiculous, so I’m glad to find acceptance here.

      • Steve Smithwick

        I can’t judge anybody for any of that, since my entertainment choices still feature wrestling and Emmure.

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          nothing wrong with wrasslin’ mang
          nice to see vince sets a good example in his stance against steroids.

          • KJM

            My friend’s cousin did web design for WWF in the late 90s so we were lucky enough to get Raw/Smackdown tix every time they came to the Boston area until about 2001.

        • KJM

          WWE has some great characters right now like the Wyatt Family and The (former) Shield. Bo Dallas is funny too. For old school pro wrestling though, Ring Of Honor and the other indies are where it’s at.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            i can’t remember the last time i watched WWE raw or smackdown. I remember watching cm punk on the ecw one hour show. ECW in name only, it was the shits. I was into TNA way back in 2005 and stopped watching that after raven was gone. I still think the glory days were the mid to late 90’s with the huge nitro/raw rivalry. Both wcw & wwf were putting out great product. Stuff like the original NWO invasion in 96 was gold. ECW was great when it was on the nashville network. Cyrus (don callous) was fucking super funny as a manager. Sandman, sabu, lance storm, shane douglas, tommy dreamer, raven, van dam, so much talent. Remember when ECW did that mini invasion one night on raw ? I think that was 96 or 97.

          • KJM

            Yup, that was the time when Vince had real competition so they had to step up in a big way. Hopefully that can happen again before too long.

    • Negrodamus

      I completely cosign the first one and half sentences of this.

      • W.

        Thanks, boo.

        • Negrodamus

          Sure bb np.

  • Xan

    Now I can’t get the image of Gojira (the band) attacking Godzilla with electric guitars and drum sticks.

  • GOJIRA LOVE! YES!

    GL

  • My favorite kaiju was Biollante. She was a plant monster.

    • W.

      Godzilla vs. Biollante was one of my favorites too. She has a really cool design.

      • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

        YAAAAA. I had a rad Biollante toy back in the day. It’s probably still in my parents’ basement somewheres.

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          anybody have one of those 2 foot godzilla’s that shot its hand off. It was part of a shogun warriors line. It was the 70’s so i doubt you are old enough to remember it. Twas cool though. These were all 2 feet tall, damn i wanted them, but they were expensive even back them.

          • KJM

            I had plenty of Star Wars toys, but no Shogun Warriors.

          • W.

            I still have one of the 12″ rubber Godzillas from the ’80s that looks like it’s wearing lipstick.

    • RuIN?

      Mechagodzilla and Weird Al. Woop Woop.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wQ8FKGMHHk

    • RomuluxX

      I love that particles of Biollante flew into space and got sucked into a black hole (or something) and created Space Godzilla.

  • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

    How the fuck did I, being from Kansas City, not know of a band named Kaiju?

    • Steve Smithwick

      You’ve been awfully flacid lately, young lady.

      • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

        Flaccid is as flaccid does, old boy.

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          ,,,,

  • RuIN?

    If you need a good laugh from time to time, there is a bong-smoking ne’er do well on Facebook that goes by Mothra. He speaks as if he is the monster from the Godzilla movies. He’s pretty funny.

    • W.

      I recently stumbled across a romantic tumblr account that detailed Mothra’s relationship with Godzilla. It was kinda weird.

      • send me a link. i need to um………… well…………. masturbate to it.

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          best i can do at short notice.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            oh yea this turns my crank too.

    • RuIN?

      I recently saw Gojira and DTP in Sacramento. I was able to get the set lists from both because I was pressed up against the rail for so long. Someday Joe D. will sign that setlist and I will be fulfilled. Someday….

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      Is that Mothra Kaiju?

  • Kaiju bone powder… good for male potency. I take it too.

  • Not all Jaegers are digital, Marshall. Gypsy’s analog… nuclear.

  • 1) don’t you ever touch me again.
    2) don’t you ever touch me again.

  • Tommy P

    This rules

  • I love Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger posts!!

  • Further Down the Metal Hole

    No!!! How dare you!?!? I’m still not able to find a physical copy of the first Gojira album. Why dost thou torment me with a track from it?

  • No bands named after The Giant Claw? He’s as big as a battleship!

  • JWG

    “Bands named after Kaiju” is a much more sensible limit than “songs about Kaiju”. Those posts could go on for days.

    I can’t resist this one, though. Ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTzb-sduiWc

  • NDNOvHell

    Brings back some good memories. 0 flushes!!

    Edit: I dunno why I thought of this.

    • KJM

      Barbarah, Babarah!!

  • RomuluxX

    Dubya, I knew there was a reason I liked you. I’ve been a massive Godzilla fan my whole life. Now why the hell isn’t there a band named after Biollante or Destroyah?

    • W.

      Oxygen Destroyer would be a cool name too.

      • RomuluxX

        …brb, gotta go make a facebook page

  • Gurp

    Good to see Gigan getting some love. Multi-Dimensional Fractal Butt Fuckery was one of my favorite finds last year.

  • Scrimm
    • W.

      I think that’s the second Godzilla movie I ever saw.

  • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

    i’m a king kong 76 man myself. It has a lot to do with jessica lange though. But i was always thinking poor kong, how is he going to make love to his girl. I used to think how it could be PULLED off ! Fuck, i am thinking about it right now. Sometimes having a giant cock is the last thing a guy like my old buddy kong needs !

    • Metaphysical Anus

      Every damn time someone mentions king kong I start thinking of Frank Zappa.

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      I have a soft spot for that as well. I also really like the Shaw Brothers rip off Mighty Peking Man, with the great Danny Lee and a giant ape who is way nicer than most of the humans until they make him snap.

    • Scrimm

      I need to watch this again.

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        It was the first movie i ever saw in the theatre when i was 6. I thought it was an actual robot. The producers put out press releases that a full size robot had been built at great cost. That was true, but it was really stiff and unusable and was only employed for a 30 second shot towards the end of the movie. I loved it as a kid though, they shot it in hawaii, which lent an authenticity to it. I have it on blu ray and you can see a lot of the flaws more clearly but they did a great job with the facial expressions of kong considering it was all just a man in a suit. It was cool how they built the arms and hands too. The full size kong they built cost millions but it was basically static , the arms went up and down a bit. Still pretty cool as you can see in this pic. Amazing the movie saw any profit at all.

        • Scrimm

          I knew none of that. I’m glad I do now. Thanks for the Info, That’s really cool.

        • KJM

          I’ll have to see the blu-ray of that at some point. I saw it on the big screen several times. Practical FX/Models > CGI.

          You could use a bit of enhancement to make that full scale robot look better though. That’s a good use of CGI, cleaning up matte lines and FX sloppiness of that kind.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            I would really like an untouched print of the original star wars trilogy on blu ray. Just the way i saw it in the theatre, matte lines and all. But of course lucas won’t do it. He had to tinker with all of them adding in extra shit, changing story points, and worst of all inserting jabba into star wars (77). I don’t go for episode this or episode that, to me there are 3 movies, star wars, empire & jedi. I don’t acknowledge that prequel garbage, that was an insult to long time fans.

          • KJM

            I have never seen an artist more insecure about his own work than Lucas. He even “specialized” THX-1138, glad I still have a Laserdisc version same as with the original trilogy.

            The only good thing about the newer films is Ian McDiarmid, such an excellent villain, and I will never have a bad word to say about Sir Christopher Lee AKA The Coolest Man Alive.

          • W.

            I actually though Ewan McGregor did a good job too. He was the only actor there putting up a decent performance.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            if anyone could pass for a young sir alec guiness it was him. The horrendous script was certainly not McGregor’s fault.

          • W.

            Lucas couldn’t write his way out of a Sarlacc pit.

          • KJM

            He is incapable of writing believable dialog for women. Marcia had to help him with the first movie.

          • Scrimm

            YES! I wont watch that shit. The part that pisses me off the most is the sarlacc coming out of the pit.

        • W.

          I’m a fan of the original King Kong. Willis O’Brien’s stop-notion animation was fantastic. Ray Harryhausen did some pretty incredible stop-motion too.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            yea, all the work harryhausen did with the sinbad movies was super cool. I still prefer his 81 clash of the titans over the CGI remakes. They had more charm and heart than the modern day coldness of CGI.

          • W.

            Another good example of great practical effects is John Carpenter’s The Thing.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            that’s a favorite of i think almost all us movie fans on here. I was just thinking of all the good movies kurt russell has starred in and that list is quite a long one. The only reason i enjoyed the thing remake was elizabeth mary winstead who incidentally was in death proof with kurt. I just find her to be a stone cold cutie.

  • KJM

    Save the Earth
    Save the Earth…

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      i could probably open a huge discussion about how good saturday morning cartoons were in the 70’s and 80’s. Here’s a few that come to mind without googling.
      thundar the barbarian
      herculoids
      of course the superfriends
      batman, tarzan hour
      godzilla had a animated show too (can’t remember name)
      pac man
      there was also super cheap 10 minute cartoons, one was rocket robin hood (robin hood in the 22nd century) & hercules ( both were very poorly animated). Maybe that was only in canada.
      i watched saturday morning cartoons til i was 16 ! , fuck, they were that good. I was up at 5 am and watched until they started to play those boring live action educational shows. Then about 1pm i would watch solid gold.

      • KJM

        We had that Robin Hood cartoon here in The US. Prince John wants to take over the ENTIRE SOLAR SYSTEM!

        Ariel! Ookla! RIDE!!!!

        Also Space Academy, Jason Of Star Command, Ark II. Then at 12 Noon either Soul train or Pro Wrestling, and then at 1PM, Creature Double Feature until 4PM.

  • Metaphysical Anus

    I really like Godzilla vs Destoroyah

    • W.

      It was a great end to the Heisei series.

  • KJM

    I sprained my ankle on the way to see “Zilla”. I just toughed it out and saw the movie anyway.

  • Combine wrestling and Kaijus, and you get:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU8J7o4kHu8

    PS, the new Godzilla sucked sloth terds until the last 30 minutes.