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Seikima-II at Japan Expo in Paris, 2010.
|Origin||Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan|
|Genres||Heavy metal, hard rock|
(Reunions: 2005, 2010, 2011, 2015–2016)
|Labels||Fitzbeat, CBS/Sony, BMG Japan, HPQ/Avex|
|Associated acts||Canta, RX, Face to Ace, Cats in Boots|
|Members||Demon Kogure/Demon Kakka|
|Past members||Damian Hamada|
Gandhara Sangeria Tigris-Euphrates Kaneko
Seikima-II (Japanese: 聖飢魔II Hepburn: Seikimatsu) is a Japanese heavy metal band, formed in 1982. Throughout their career they have had numerous lineups, with lead singer Demon Kakka the sole constant member. The group has sold over 10 million records in Japan alone.
According to the band, Seikima-II is a group of Akuma (悪魔, "demons") from the futuristic hyper-evolved dimension Makai (魔界, "demon world") that preach a religion called Akumakyo in order to propagate Satan through the use of heavy metal music. Each member is a demon of a different hierarchical class, with His Excellency Demon Kakka being leader of the Akuma and His Majesty Damian Hamada being the "Crown Prince of Hell". In accordance to the prophecy and after completing their world conquest, the band disbanded at the end of the century on December 31, 1999 at 23:59:59.
However, the band has had several limited reunions since their disbandment. One in 2005 to celebrate their 20th anniversary and another in 2010 celebrating their 25th anniversary, the latter including their first ever world tour. In 2011, an encore of their world tour was held and the band hosted two charity concerts that included several different artists in response to the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. They performed a two leg 30th anniversary tour from September 2015 into February 2016.
Seikima (聖飢魔) means "Holy Devouring Demon", but with the II ("tsu") added to the end it becomes a play on the term seikimatsu (世紀末) or "the end of the century". It is also an abbreviation of the phrase Seinaru mono ni ueteiru akuma ga futatabi (tsū) yomigaeru (聖なる物に飢えている悪魔がII（ふたた）び蘇る "the demon that devours holiness has resurrected again").
Seikima-II was formed in late December 1982 by guitarist Damian Hamada while he was attending the Waseda University Folk Song Club. The original lineup included His Excellency Demon Kogure on vocals, Zod Hoshijima on bass and Ace Shimizu on drums. The band was known for their Kabuki-inspired makeup and flamboyant outfits. Although the exact date is unknown, Damian Hamada left the band soon after its formation, but remained a respected founder and songwriter throughout their career. He was replaced on guitar by drummer Ace Shimizu.
In September 1983, two new members had joined the band's lineup. Zeed Iijima replaced Ace Shimizu on the drums. Another member by the name of Majo ("witch") Ryoko became the new keyboardist, however she only stayed for one month. That year, the band had its first live performance (a concert by the band is referred to as a Black Mass (黒ミサ)) playing a series of small gigs. They gained popularity among metal fans for their heavy music style and unique appearance.
In 1984, Seikima-II continued to play small gigs at various concert halls. In April, Giantonio Babayashi both joined and left as a second guitarist. Later that year, they passed an audition for major label CBS/Sony.
1985 marked the year in which the band's biggest lineup change would occur. A new second guitarist, Gandhara Sangeria Tigris-Euphrates Kaneko, replaced Giantonio in January. Drummer Zeed Iijima decided to finally leave the band in April. In March he was temporarily replaced by the new drummer named Jagy Furukawa. Soon, Gandhara and Jagy both left the group in June. At this point the band was lacking in both a second guitarist and a drummer. In June they discovered guitarist Jail O'Hashi and drummer Raiden Yuzawa, who would both go on being part of the first well-known lineup. Later in September of that same year, the group released their first full-length album (an album by the band is called a "Scripture of Doctrine"), Seikima-II ~ Akuma ga Kitarite Heavy Metal. The album received mixed reviews by critics, but became very popular among heavy metal fans. It exceeded 100,000 in sales, a first for any Japanese heavy metal album in history.
On April 2, 1986 they released both their second album, The End of the Century, and their first single "House of Wax". (A single by the band is called a "Chapter of Doctrine.") The album's name was also the meaning behind Seikima-II (seikimatsu), as according to them, they were destined to disband at the end of the century (the year 1999). In June bassist Zod, who was one of the original members, would finally leave the band, being replaced by Xenon Ishikawa. At the end of the year they released their third album, From Hell with Love. This was followed by their first major live concert called The Great Black Mass Tour held on December 24, 1986. That same year, a video game was released for the Famicom based on the band, under the title Seikima II Akuma no Gyakushū!. The game was re-released for the MSX2 the following year.
One year later, in January 1987, guitarist Jail O'Hashi also decided to leave the band. He abandoned his band name and would later be recognized as Takashi "Jam" O'Hashi, playing in the American/Japanese hard rock group Cats in Boots and in his own band, the Takashi O'Hashi Project, although he would once again go by "Jail O'Hashi" while playing with Seikima-II at future concerts. In February, guitarist Sgt. Luke Takamura III joined the group to form the most well-known lineup. That same year the band released their Big Time Changes album. This album brought about a change in the band's music style by mixing heavy metal with hard rock. Also here for the first time, Luke Takamura takes on the role as more of a lead guitarist, switching off with Ace Shimizu, who is heard playing more rhythm guitar. In 1988 they continued their experimentation with other genres on the album The Outer Mission. With this album they experimented with a fusion of heavy metal, progressive rock and even some jazz music to add for an interesting new sound. Regardless of these changes they continued being praised by heavy metal fans while also receiving attention from the general public. A 1989 home video release also titled The Outer Mission was directed by Macoto Tezuka, son of manga and anime pioneer Osamu Tezuka.
After releasing their next album Yuugai in 1991, they began playing their first overseas concerts in surrounding Asian countries and in Europe, most notably England and Spain. Later in 1992, they followed up by releasing Kyoufu no Restaurant, which, as a drastic change from the last few albums, was a return to their heavy metal roots; combining dark, Satanic lyrics with heavy music.
Their next album Ponk!!, released in 1994, brought about even more change from the band's past style. Combining heavy metal with folk rock music and more ballad songs. The album was produced at Abbey Road Studios in London, England, where the band was living for a short time.
In 1996, the band released their next full-length album, Mephistopheles no Shouzou, leaving the CBS Sony label and signing to BMG Japan. The album was a return to their heavier sound while also having elements of power metal. The move to BMG also made a noticeable difference in the sound quality of their following albums. In 1997 the album News was released, followed by Move in 1998. Both albums bring about a new digital quality sound combining various styles with heavy metal.
In 1999, their final album, Living Legend, was released. They kept true to their roots and fans consider it to be a proper final chapter in the band's history before finally disbanding on December 31, 1999, at 23:59:59. Their final concerts were called The Black Mass Final 3 Nights, and were three days lasting from December 29–31. The concerts were separated into three days called The Theatrical Day, The Satan All Star's Day (on this night every former member and supporting member that was ever in the band performed, except Giantonio Babayashi and Gandhara Sangeria Tigris-Euphrates Kaneko, who sent video messages), The Doomsday, which at the end, the band is seen disappearing into a portal of light leaving the stage and finishing their 14-year career.
After disbanding in 1999, each member has continued to have strong solo careers. Demon Kogure has been a solo artist since the early 90's and still continues to perform and release new material. Ace Shimizu has been involved in his own two piece band called Face to Ace. Luke Takamura later formed the hard rock band Canta with Raiden Yuzawa. Xenon Ishikawa was involved in the band RX with Raiden and Seikima-II support keyboardist Yuichi Matsuzaki.
In late 2005 Seikima-II held two different kinds of special reunion tours in Japan for their 20th anniversary. The first tour included guitarist Jail O'Hashi, bassist Zod Hoshijima and enka singer Suizenji Kiyoko as special guests. The reunion tours were both very well received and were completely sold out within a short period of time. Since then they have released two live albums which were recorded from both tours. The second live album included a special third bonus CD which included 6 new songs written by the band.
The album Akuma Nativity "Songs of the Sword" received a physical release on September 16, 2009. It includes the band's classic songs completely re-recorded in English. The similar albums Akuma Relativity and A Quarter Century of Rebellion were released a year later on July 28, 2010.
In 2010 Seikima-II reunited to celebrate their 25th anniversary and to perform a world tour entitled, Intercontinental Black Mass Tour. It was announced that guitarist Ace Shimizu, an original member of the band, would not be taking part and instead Jail O'Hashi would rejoin the group. On June 6 they held their first concert in America at Project A-Kon in Dallas, Texas. On July 4 they held their second show in Europe when they visited Paris, France for the Japan Expo. On September 3 and 4 they performed in Korea at the Viva! Korea Rock Festival, which was broadcast on TV. A tribute album to the band, titled Tribute to Seikima-II: Akuma to no Keiyakusho, was released on September 15, 2010 and featured their songs covered by artists such as Show-Ya, Sex Machineguns and Galneryus.
An "encore" of their world tour was held from July to September 2011. Then on November 30 and December 1, 2011, Seikima-II revived once again for charity concerts titled Seikima-II Presents Tribute to Japan. They included several different artists, them being Cali Gari, jealkb, Man With A Mission, Nokko, Kishidan and Rookiez is Punk'd, and were in response to the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. All proceeds were donated to the Japanese Red Cross. Material from both nights was released as a live CD and DVD on June 20, 2012.
The compilation XXX -The Ultimate Worst- was released on August 26, 2015. That year, Seikima-II performed a tour in celebration of their 30th anniversary. Split into two legs, Zenseki Shikei and Zoku Zenseki Shikei, the first was held from September 17 to November 8 and the second from November 26, 2015 to January 21, 2016. The band released their first single in 17 years on April 13, 2016. Both of the double A-side's songs, "Kōryōtaru Shin Sekai" (荒涼たる新世界, "Desolate New World") and "Planet/The Hell", were used as theme songs to the Terra Formars Revenge anime. The author of the original Terra Formars manga, Yū Sasuga, is a fan of Seikima-II and designed the cover of XXX -The Ultimate Worst-, which was drawn in finality by his partner on the series Kenichi Tachibana. A second double A-side single, "Noroi no Shananana/Goblin's Scale" (呪いのシャ・ナ・ナ・ナ/GOBLIN'S SCALE), was released on June 15. The first track is the theme song for the horror film Sadako vs. Kayako.
Seikima-II notoriety in Japan is very high: they are considered a legendary heavy metal band in their country. The original video animation Seikima II Anime: Humane Society -Jinruiai ni Michita Shakai- (聖飢魔Ⅱ アニメ「HUMANE SOCIETY ～人類愛に満ちた社会～」) was released in 1992 and features Seikima-II members as main characters, with Demon Kogure providing his character's voice.
The Hokuto no Ken anime adaptation contains a character called Kogure, who is based on Demon Kogure.
Episode 49 of YuYu Hakusho also briefly mentioned Seikima-II, with the parody being that one of the demons was listening to them on their walkman.
The aesthetics and mythology of the band in manga/live action film/OVA series Detroit Metal City also appears to be largely based on Seikima-II.
On episode 200 of AKBingo! where AKB48 hosted a cover contest for their song "Give Me Five!" a band by the name of "Niseikima-II" performed and won over the other acts. In their introduction on the show they mention that they were influenced by Seikima-II, they also pretend to be devils and wore lots of makeup.
Many notable artists cited them as an influence, including Tetsuya Kanmuri, GO and Kobayashi Shinichi and NOV from Zigoku Quartet, JOE and PANTHER and Murai Kenjiro of Sex Machineguns, Show-Ya, Syu from Galneryus, SHUSE and LEVIN of La'cryma Christi, Shiratori Shouchikubai from Kishidan, miko of exist†trace, Kick the Can Crew's MCU and Hatake from Sharam Q. Tomoi from Laputa covered Seikima-II in his high school days.
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