This was appropriate since the Kawakami Forever shows are happening in Japan soon.
D-beat is a cult.
Never get this fact twisted. To the casual observer of the genre, d-beat is merely a novelty employed by crust punks to play what they largely consider boring hardcore. The same observer will derisively say that the genre is top heavy, that all you need is Discharge, Anti-Cimex, and a few other bands. On the one hand, there's some merit to that argument. D-beat is, relatively speaking, a fairly one-dimensional style of play.
On the other hand, there's so much going on with d-beat bands. Much in the way shoegaze bands sought to create and hone the "wall of sound", d-beat bands sought to create the "noise not music" acoustic aesthetic. D-beat is war. Pure and simple. It is loud, it is chaotic, and it is aimed. There's a reason why the lyrics are almost always about war, that bomb raid sirens are a commonly used d-beat staple, and why the genre's denizens wear bullet belts, boots, and all black. It is uniform because they choose to drape themselves in the shrouds of soldiers. Because the raison d'etre of d-beat is war, the people who choose to align with this genre are almost universally fanatical. Much in the way the men fighting for ISIS are fanatical for Islam, so are the people who lay their fealty to d-beat. This fanaticism has created an exceptionally interesting landscape of bands across the genre.
I'm not going to bore you with the history of d-beat. I will explain to you why the genre is so top heavy and when I do, you will truly have a grasp for the fanaticism I was speaking to a minute ago.
Discharge is the alpha and the omega of d-beat. The reason why d-beat is so top heavy is because the best bands are trying their hardest to be Discharge. What makes it different is the tint the disciples of Discharge do with the sound. Two countries who owe their entire hardcore punk lineage to Discharge are Sweden and Japan. In the case of Japan, there is one band that is at the vanguard: Disclose.
Disclose was formed in Kochi City on the island of Shikoku (read: not the big island) in 1992. The mastermind behind Disclose was a man named Kawakami.
Kawakami lived and breathed Discharge. No other band mattered to him. Consider an interview with Crust War zine in 1997 when asked about the concept of Disclose, Kawakami and bandmate Jhonio answered "Only really Discharge!" About the different types of "disstyle" (or d-beat) in Inaktuellet zine, Kawakami answers that disstyle "has many soundstyle. these are "why" beat "hear nothing"" and then adds that some are influenced by the later thrash / speed metal sound. At any rate, Kawakami organized his entire musical discourse through Discharge's catalog. To him, literally, "only Discharge is real". There is something to be said for this unfailing loyalty to a band. Kawakami's worship of Discharge, coupled with his intensive and ambitious use of noise in Disclose made him a genre icon in his own right.
A large part of Disclose's international prominence, aside from their stellar output, was their openness to working with foreign bands. The band did splits with Selfish (Finland), Hellkrusher (UK), World Burns To Death (USA), No Fucker (USA), Cluster Bomb Unit (Germany), Besthoven (Brazil) as well as native heroes like Framtid and Insane Youth and many others. Disclose's pedigree in this regard adds another brick to the argument of them being one of the best ever.
The band ended in 2007 when Kawakami died from an overdose. This is tragic and, sadly, a more common occurrence in Japan than many think. It is the same at it is in any other scene around the world. Drugs and the grief from it is as real in Osaka as it is in Portland. In death however, Kawakami was elevated to a deity-like status. Today he is revered far more than any member of Discharge or any other personality within the d-beat genre. I have asked this question a lot recently about why Kawakami is more beloved than other hardcore punk personalities who have passed on (most notably Chelsea who is one of the greatest guitarists in the history of the subculture). Until tonight I didn't have an answer to the question but I get it now. Kawakami died a member of an army. His compatriots wear Kawakami Forever shirts and remember him because he is a fallen soldier to the cause that is their sound. His memory lives on to challenge others to do something greater while doing it in the face of that which you love. For Kawakami, that was Discharge and the world was richer for it with Disclose. Today's music scene might even be witnessing the holders of Kawakami's mantle in the USA's Aspects Of War (aptly named after a Disclose record).
Life ends and heroes betray but Kawakami will always be forever.
Enclosed below is almost all of Disclose's discography.