All posts by beyondsenpai

Beyond Senpai. The music and culture fanzine. Made by fans for fans. For features and content contributions contact:

Bridear step into the dark

BRIDEAR are set to return to western shores this Autumn with a 9 date run of shows across Europe and the UK.

Freshly signed to Setsuzoku Records, the Fukuoka 5 piece will be bringing their highly anticipated new release, Bloody Bride, on their Into The Dark Forever tour.

Fans have been waiting for their first international album release Bloody Bride, which is due out 7th May through Setsuzoku Records. Featuring dedicated artwork for the cover, those lucky fans who preordered the release will also recieve 2 limited edition Bridear guitar picks.

Fans have been abuzz on the preorders and with the release of title track Bloody Bride and further release Daybreak, we know we are in for an incredible record.

The bands 2019 album Expose Your Emotions will also receive an official international release featuring an all new cover, booklet and 3 bonus tracks.

The tour announcement is sure to set the Japanese metal community into a frenzy after what feels like an eternity of no live music due to the ongoing pandemic.

Tickets are available from April 9th at

To pre-order Bloody Bride (international release)

To support Bridear

Its a Good Day with MIKUROMIKA

It’s a Good Day at Beyond Senpai as we are joined by J-pop artist MIKUROMIKA. With her catchy dance fusion vibes ready to take over your playlist, Mika gives us the low down on her rise to J-pop stardom.

Beyond Senpai~ Welcome to Beyond Senpai, please introduce yourself.

Mika~Hi! My name is MIKUROMIKA. I’m a Japanese pop singer-songwriter
based in Canada and Japan. My signature concept is Japanese FASHION×MUSIC with energetic, feel-good music, inspirational lyrics and colourful performance.

BS~ Congratulations on joining the Setsuzoku Records roster! How did this partnership come about?

M~ I’m a singer-songwriter and I’m an overseas manager at the Japan Artist Association so I’m supporting Japanese artists who want to share their art and music to outside of Japan. I met Setsuzoku Records through online conference meetings.

I’m really happy that they love my music and believe in my potential!

BS~ What inspired you to become a J-pop artist? And does your sense of fashion play a part in your overall musical style?

M~ I wanted to be a J-pop singer in Japan because I want to help and cheer up people with my music and performance. But since I had cancer, my passion for music became stronger. I want to inspire people to chase their dreams.

Also my fashion style is very connected to my music.
I’m trying to express a more artistic sense through music and fashion and not just music.

BS~ You recently released a new single, Good Day, and the B side Baby, can you tell us the inspiration for these tracks?

M~ My song Good Day was inspired by a picture of the Japanese photopgrapher/artist Yoshitaka Goto and it’s a song about a princess who wants to escape from her castle to learn what real life is.

For the song Baby I was inspired by tropical house music which is a style I love and I wanted to combine it with the sounds of Japanese instruments. The story came from a real relationship experience.

Yoshitaka Goto

BS~ You have a unique sound to your music, what is your creative process and what is it like working alongside international producers?

M~ Thank you so much! I’m working with international sound producers and I like that because even though I make J-pop, it is never going to be only mainstream J-pop. My sound producers are like spice in cooking food so my music is like “Japanese fusion.”

Our native languages are different so then sometimes I feel it is difficult to explain small details, but we have music as a language. So somehow we can communicate well 🙂

BS~ How do you feel about breaking into the international scene?

M~ I’m just soooo excited. Music is a communication tool and I’m sure that when I’m singing in Japanese you guys can feel my emotions.

I really want to perform as much as possible outside of Japan. Taking my music to the world is my dream!

BS~ Are there any venues or countries you would perform live in? Is there an artist you would like to collaborate with?

M~ Now is difficult to perform in venues because of COVID, but I would love to perform in the UK which is my dream.

Also I would love to collaborate with Rina Sawayama. I love her music and I respect her a lot.

BS~ You love using social media to connect with your fans, especially Instagram live, what do you enjoy most about this?

M~ I’ve been doing livestreams on Instagram for two years and I’m really enjoying it because I can communicate directly with my fans.

Every time I learn something new about who is listening to my music. I talk about my culture, music, experiences and more deep topics too sometimes. I feel loneliness easily, but chatting with my fans makes me happy and relaxed.

BS~ When you are not being a Jpop artist, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

M~ When I have time, I like to draw since I also make visual art. I also love watching bulldog videos. LOL!

I really really want to have bulldog one day!

BS~ Can your fans look forward to more new music from you in the future?

M~ Of course!! I’m making a bunch of songs now. With Setsuzoku Records I hope to release an EP later this year.

Please look forward to it. We hope it will be the soundtrack for your summer!

BS~ Do you have a message for your fanbase?

M~ Thank you so much for finding me! I think this is destiny⭐︎

I will make you happy with my music so please follow me!
And as you guys know I love to communicate with my fans♡

Come to chat on my livestream and ask me anything!

And I hope I can see you guys at my performance one day soon !!!

Good Day and Baby are available now on iTunes and Spotify.


All photos and artwork courtesy of MIKUROMIKA.

From the Basement

Tokyo based indie pop rockers HEAVENSTAMP are back with a new record, From the Basement, and it doesn’t miss a beat.

After the announcement of joining the SETSUZOKU RECORDS roster in late 2020 and the January release of ‘Sail to Heaven’ setting the tone for the new record, fans have been waiting for the imminent drop. And they weren’t disappointed.

HEAVENSTAMP’s Sally#Cinnamon and Tomoya.S return with their infectious guitar driven vibes after working on new material during the past years lockdown.

Sally#Cinnamon brings her amazing vocals with the same great range and finesse we know. Her voice is incredible; soft and soothing but with a determined focus that let’s the listener know they are part of something special.

Title track Sail to Heaven has that chilled indie vibe HEAVENSTAMP are known for. A groove that builds with lifting vocals, you can feel this is the start of a great musical story.

The pace picks up with Scrap, a guitar driven track with vocals from both Sally#Cinnamon and Tomoya.S. With a rap style vocal, this track really builds in both tempo and beat with a lyrical chorus.

Kumonoito builds on the previous track with added synths and infectious drum beat that will have fans bopping too. Sally#Cinnamon hits that higher range with ease.

Next up is another guitar focused track, Kokoronihiwotsukete. That opening riff is one that will be stuck in your head. The vocals on the build up to the chorus are impeccable, in contrast to the grinding guitar chords. With a blistering guitar solo and that 90s indie rock groove, this is sure to be a favourite live.

Ainiyurai has that indie pop beat and feel to it, with Sally#Cinnamon mixing up her vocal style. It provides a fresh and different feel that is in contrast to the chorus. Sure to be a popular track in the live setting.

Another banging opening for Mind the Gap and a chorus that will have fans singing along. The break inbetween verse and chorus before the opening riff returns shows the complexity in the musicianship.

Tokinotbibito brings a false sense of security with a mellow opening before you are hit with massive harmonised vocals. This track really showcases the vocal element of HEAVENSTAMP, long open voices of both Sally#Cinnamon and Tomoya.S supported by clever drumbeats that give the track that extra edge.

To end, 8 bit synths build the opening for Virtual. Mellow with digital drumbeats and keys, this track has all the hallmarks of HEAVENSTAMP and the massive previous record, LOVE BUILDERS. A perfect end to a great album.

From the Basement is absolutely some of the best music Heavenstamp have delivered. It encompasses their indie pop rock style and groove that they are well known for. We can hope for some live shows in the coming year and enjoy this record in the way it should be.

From the Basement is available now to buy and download on iTunes and Spotify.


Fate Gear: The Sky Prison

A guest album review by Andrew Goodhew of Wota of the Roundtable Podcast.

Steam punk Captain Mina and her crew in the name of Fate Gear are back with their fourth full length album called The Sky Prison, featuring a great range of talented vocalists.

The Sky Prison featuring Nana: The first single release of the album, not only packs a punch with a very classic power metal vibe, but also features guest violinist Jill of Unlucky Morpheus. It is a catchy and maybe even a great way to start a live show too. Bonvoi Jars anyone to this amazing journey across the sky.

カルミア featuring Nana: A much faster track with another great feel to album with loads of great riffs from every angle followed with an amazing guitar solo from Mina with a epic chorus that could get the crowd going.

Draw Your Dagger : A dark intro feel like Headless Goddess was, with guea vocals from Mali Oyama. Erica shows off her energetic talent at the start and keeps this dark atmospheric feel going which I like. This song definitely gives keyboard player Yuri her time to shine with dual solos with Mina, also bagpipes are being heard here too.

Dancing in the Moonlight featuring RAMI: This song features RAMI on vocals and those of you that do not know her, she was the original vocalist of all female metal veterans Aldious. In my opinion this song has that sort of Aldious vibe too. I love how the song has a great guitar solo intro from Mina. Everything just blends well with RAMI here. Great work as always from Fate Gear, with a classic power metal gallop in this too.

Battle Against Justice: Wow, this is probably the heaviest song on the album. Nana is shouting and screaming in this, as well as her clean vocals in the chorus that she has been been doing in this album. A great little breakdown followed by a great solo too.

Prisoners featuring Nana: Slow and heavy start to the song, a sudden one second pause and then Big Bang of everything to follow. Another fantastic song which has that power that could get the crowd going at times. I love how the verses are done here.

Father: A instrumental song and it is a peaceful 1 too. Nothing more I can say.

処断の刻: Vocalist Maki Oyami is back on this track, with a slow start for a few seconds and then song takes off fast. I am liking it and is another lovely track, with great verses and an epic chorus that I would be proud to sing along too. A lovely slow guitar solo and back into full power with a keyboard solo in the middle. Words cannot described the ending for this. It is just so good.

Child of Memories: The last song of the album and it has got a similar feel to The Sky Pirates but slightly different. Another song for Nana which she shows what she can do for what she can do with her singing. Keyboard solo Yuri with a guitar solo too.

This album has been a great ride and brilliant story telling, featuring so many talented musicians and vocalists. There is a great blend of everything that makes this record so great. A great way to start the year with The Sky Prison

Score 8.5/10

To support Fate Gear

To support Wota of the Roundtable


Tomoya.S and Sally#Cinnamon

With today’s announcement of new album ‘From the Basement’, Tokyo based indie rockers HEAVENSTAMP joined Beyond Senpai for a chat about all that has happened this year and their outlook for the year ahead.

BS. Welcome to Beyond Senpai, congratulations on joining the Setsuzoku records roster! Can you tell us how this partnership started?

Beyond Senpaiへようこそ。Setsuzoku Recordへ名を連ねることになり、おめでとうございます。この度どのようにこの関係に至ったのか、話していただけませんか?

HS. Heavenstamp was supposed to tour the UK in June and July of this year, but due to the new coronavirus, we had to postpone.

In order to make the most of the time we didn’t have to tour, we started to work on a new album.

After completing the album, we decided to release the album in the UK, which we had always wanted to do, so we talked to a British friend who was supporting us on our UK tour and introduced us to Setsuzoku Records.

Thank you for this wonderful encounter!



アルバムの完成後、私たちのかねてからの希望だったイギリスでのアルバムリリースを実現するため、UKツアーをサポートしてくれるイギリス人の友人に相談し、Setsuzoku Recordsを紹介してくれたのが始まりです。


BS. You have been working on new music, how do you find your inspiration for writing and what is the creative process like?


HS. It is a mind-blowing experience.
For example, it could be a great movie, a beautiful landscape, a conversation with a friend, a relationship with a family member, or the world news.
I think all the inspirational things we see and experience are a source of inspiration.

There are various forms of creative process, such as the two of us discussing the direction of the song and lyrics, or vocalist Sally writing lyrics to a song inspired by guitarist Tomoya, but most of the time we write the lyrics with the song first.
Sometimes Tomoya is in charge of both writing and composing lyrics.



BS. How did you develop your musical style?


HS. Both of us have loved and listened to all kinds of music from all over the world, from classical music, which we have listened to since we were children, to rock, hip-hop, and ambient, but we have also seen and experienced many wonderful live performances by foreign musicians who have visited Japan, which has had an important influence on Heavenstamp’s music.

I want to express the grooves that I feel with my body and the sense of unity with the audience in Heavenstamp’s music.
It also made me want to enjoy music with people all over the world.



BS. What artists have inspired you to make music and who would you like to collaborate with?


HS. Tomoya first composed music at the age of six, imitating Beethoven on the piano.
He first composed rock music in junior high school, probably due to The Beatles.
Since then, I have been inspired by David Bowie, Radiohead, Blur, Super Furry Animals, and many other UK rock bands, as well as Bjork, The Flaming Lips, and Yura Yura Empire.

The band I would most like to collaborate with now is the Canadian band Arcade Fire.

初めてロックの曲を作曲したのは中学生の頃、The Beatlesの影響だったと思います。
それ以降はDavid BowieやRadiohead、Blur、Super Furry Animalsなど多くのUKロック、他にもBjorkやThe Flaming Lips、ゆらゆら帝国など様々な国の音楽からも刺激を受けました。

今一番コラボレーションしたいのは、カナダのバンドであるArcade Fireです。

BS. 2020 has been a crazy year, how have you kept busy when performing live has  been affected?


HS. It’s a bit of a duplicate, but I think it was the production of a new album.
It was all done in Tomoya’s private studio, and we had a lot of new ideas to try, but we had plenty of time so we were able to complete the album on our own.

It was definitely a difficult time, but we are positive that we learned a lot and gained a lot from it.



BS. Do you think the live music industry will change due to the pandemic?


HS. To be honest, we don’t know.
But I don’t think it’s necessarily all doom and gloom.
Nowadays, people all over the world can watch our live performances wherever they are, thanks to the technology of distribution, so there may be more people who get to know our music.
However, there is still a greatness that cannot be replaced by actually experiencing a live concert in a venue.
I believe that the day will come when we will be able to safely enjoy live music with people all over the world.
All we can do is to make the best choice we can at that time and do our best.


BS. In what venue would you most like to perform live?


HS. After all, the Glastonbury Festival has been a goal of mine for many years.
I imagine the stage every day and every night.

Another one is Alexandra Palace in England, where I saw my friends Bloc Party live in 2018.
It was a lovely venue with a lot of history.

Then there’s Windmill, a venue in Brixton where I’ve played many gigs and have some great friends.

やはり、長年の目標であるGlastonbury Festivalです。

他には、2018年に友人のBloc Partyのライブを観たイギリスのAlexandra Palaceです。


BS. What do you enjoy most when performing and do you have any backstage rituals?


HS. I love to see the audience enjoying themselves the most.
I play with a sense of wonderment that each of our lives can come together in the same place at the same moment.

Backstage, I warm up my throat and body to boost my spirits, but I am basically relaxed.



BS. We missed you in the UK this year, are there plans for you to return?


HS. The summer tour was postponed, but I am sure it will happen someday.


BS. Do you have a message for your fans?


HS. If you have known Heavenstamp in the past, or if you are new to us, we are glad to meet you.
People all over the world are going through difficult times, but we will continue to send out music.
I hope you enjoy it.
I believe that we will meet at a live concert someday. Until then, please be well.
I wish you all the best.


New single ‘Sail to Heaven’ will be released on January 22nd 2021 followed by the new album ‘In The Basement’ on February 26th 2021.

Beyond Senpai thanks SETSUZOKU RECORDS for arranging this interview and to HEAVENSTAMP for joining us.

Special thanks to Hideki Narita for his translation skills.


PassCode: Starry Sky

A review by Tom

Once again, PassCode are back with an all new live album and it is something we all need right now.

Filmed at the iconic KT Zepp, Yokohama back in August’s 2020, PassCode are back with their take on metalcore infused J-pop.

I don’t have to say that 2020 has been a strange year and for live concerts, some things had to change. If you have listened to past PassCode live albums or watched any of the live videos, you will know the audience plays a big part in the sound.

Understandably, due to restrictions that come with the current world situation, there is an audience at the venue but sadly very little crowd interaction can be heard. You can hear some clapping, but for a live PassCode show it is missing that energy the audience brings to make you want to be right there in the middle of the madness.

One thing you notice while listening to the members sing live, is their passion for being live on stage. Even with the audience interaction being minimal, the girls aren’t letting that hold them back. They definitely make up for what is normally missing and you feel the energy that always accompanies a live show.

The one thing I admire about PassCode is the use of their live band. It brings an element of sound that a backing track doesn’t have and really lifts the show to another level. Praise has to be given to the musicians here. The talent they have is second to none and you can feel the energy the band and girls feed to each other.

The setlist from the show included classics like ‘Bite the Bullet’, ‘Maze of Minds’ and ‘Ray’. Not forgetting crowd favourite ‘Miss Unlimited’, and the song that shows the power of Yuna’s voice, ‘Taking You Out’.

There is an excellent mix of songs from classics right through to new releases. My personal stand out song from the show is ‘Sieze Approaching Brand New Era’. I’m sure this is going to become a fan favourite and really is awesome to hear live.

Overall this is a PassCode live show slightly different to the past release. But don’t let that put you off from listening to it. This is truly a live show that we all need at the moment. Powerful and uplifting, it really is a pleasure to listen to.

PassCode – Starry Sky is available now on DVD.

To support PassCode

All images are gratefully received from the official PassCode Twitter.


Sally#Cinnamon and Tomoya S

Underground indie pop-rock band HEAVENSTAMP has been signed by SETSUZOKU RECORDS.

Today’s announcement from the newly established label brings the Tokyo duos chilled and uplifting sounds to an international audience for the first time. Since their inception way back in 2009, vocalist Sally#Cinnamon and guitarist Tomoya.S have developed their signature groove with a nod to pop-rock acts such as Blur, Bjork and Bowie.

The duos first full length release, HEAVENSTAMP, was back in 2012 under Warner Music Japan, after catching the labels attention just a year earlier. HEAVENSTAMP went on to establish their own indie label, Tengoku Records, in 2017 after going back underground, where they went onto release their second record TENGOKU-INKAN WO KIKINASAI, an epic pop-guitar driven moment.

After successful festival appearances in Japan and a UK TOUR, HEAVENSTAMP had made their mark and built an international reputation, co-producing work with British guitarist Russell Lissack (Bloc Party) and US Indie band Animal Collective. Third album, LOVE BUILDERS, showcased Sally#Cinnamons incredible voice backed by Tomoya.S and his infectious song writing and productions skills.

The duo have performed in the UK before, most recently the latter part of 2019. With the summer of 2020 tour being postponed, there is no announcement as of yet about rescheduled dates. They have recently been working on new music, which we can look forward to soon in 2021.

Heavenstamps addictive and organic pop-rock melodies will surely make an impression with their first international release due in the early 2021 with SETSUZOKU RECORDS.


Desurabbits to end activities

Tokyo based idol group DESURABBITS have announced that they will end activities next year.

The announcement came as a shock to the fanbase who were enjoying a Livestream event for the 7th anniversary of the unit on their official YouTube channel.

The members thanked the fans and stated there would be a final one-man live in June 2021.

Yuzu Okawa, Emi Mochizuku, Karin Yasuo and Akira Kanzaki aka Bucho left messages of thanks to the DESURABBITS Army on their twitter account.




The long awaited release from JILUKA on October 14th, ‘Xtopia’ brings a welcomed return of new music from the visual kei band.

After almost a year since the bands previous release ‘Xanadu’ and the fifth anniversary special DVD ‘The Outis’ back in May 2020, they have come back harder than ever with a new look, a new mini album and an official MV for title track ‘Edifice’. The technical metalcore quartet also embarked on their first domestic one-man live tour, The Integration, in support of the new 7-track release.

Boogie (Ba) Zyean (Dr) Ricko (Vo) Sena (Gt)

Known for their heavy breakdowns and melodic choruses, this mini serving certainly hits hard from the start.

Title track ‘Edifice’ brings the dark sounds of church organs with a quick build up to the heavy guitar and drums we know well from this band. The official MV fits with the sound and theme with a lavish church setting. This track features clean vocals throughout from frontman Ricko, and it’s clear he is able to command the upper range with ease. His melodic vocal is supported by guitarist Sena providing welcomed chaotic runs up and down the fret board, which perfectly sets up the feel for the rest of the album.

It’s not long before we are blessed with building heaviness in third track ‘Menace’, Zyean’s thundering drums never missing a beat. Clean vocals leading into Rickos growls, a feature we have waited for til now. Guitar maestro Sena shows off precise skill throughout. From the heavy minor chord verses into the major melodic chorus, there is balance amongst the chaos.

Boogie provides the heaviest of bass lines throughout this mini offering. The way Boogie and Zyean keep the momentum for each track, each working together to create the dark and heavy breakdowns JILUKA are known for. ‘Flux’ gives us heavy riffage from the start, the bass and drums driving through with ease, giving Sena free reign for impeccable solo work. This is evident in ‘Ignite’, a track that is sure to become a fan favourite.

Each track effortlessly leads to the next, with the welcomed – Prologos – allowing the listener a brief moment of melodic metal with Sena’s perfectly placed guitar work shining through before Xtopia’s final highlight, ‘The Purge’.

This track hits you like no other, and highlights Ricko’s versatile vocal abilities. With a chorus comprising of clean, uplifting vocals and frantic screaming, it is absolutely clear that the frontman has grown in both confidence and proficiency. JILUKAs talent in creating both dark and colourful melody is a stand out attribute, and is perfectly arranged during the course if this record.

‘Xtopia’ brings the best of each member and leaves the listener wanting more. It is clear that JILUKA have matured over their 5 years and show no sign of stopping. The continued evolution and unique identity of this band shines through on this record. And we are grateful for that.

Xtopia is released in two versions, regular and limited edition, with the latter featuring bonus MVs for ‘Elice In Slow Motion’ and ‘Last Faith’.


  1. Xtopia
  2. Edifice
  3. Menace
  4. Flux
  5. Ignite
  6. -Prologos-
  7. The Purge

To support JILUKA

All images gladly recieved from the official JILUKA Twitter account.


Melodic trance metal pioneers Blood Stain Child performed a live stream concert on their official YouTube channel on October 23rd.

A highly anticipated show, the band were able to involve fans both in Japan and internationally through the voting of 4 songs to be included in the set list.

And as an added bonus, a special online lottery allowed for fans to be included as a digital crowd participation during the live.

The band from Osaka gained ‘legend status’ and quite the following internationally after their show-stealing performance at the 2019 Metal Matsuri in London.

It’s been almost 2 years since the release of the incredible Amateras album, a record that brought original vocalist Sadew back into the BSC family.

Before the start of the live stream, fans from across the world gathered in the live chat. With almost 300 watching the show live, there was a lot of love coming from all who were viewing.

Around the stage were bar stools with balloons featuring the faces of fans who participated to be part of the virtual crowd.

This is a band who can get an audience fired up from the first song, but they did not let the lack of crowd stop them from fully embracing this performance.

The members gave their all during this performance, with guitarist GSR and bassist Yakky playing off one another, it was clear they were having a great time.

Drummer Yasuo received plenty shout outs in the live chat, his foot work impeccable and the driving force of each track, his thundering double bass drum could be felt deep in your chest.

Lead guitarist Ryu never disappoints with clean solo work, never missing a note. Her talent for both guitar and composing can be heard throughout the set.

Frontman Sadew as always brings all that is required as vocalist. His screams are hard and precise, the clean elements never faltering. His return to BSC after some time away brought great joy to the fanbase, and his outgoing personality and interaction with the crowd has only grown in the years since.

Fan favourite Freedom got the chat room jumping, and Exotic-6- Cordinator took fans back to the incredible 2007 Mozaiq album. It is clear that this bands songs still sound just as brilliant as they did 13 years ago.

Amateras singles Del Sol and Sumeragi hit hard showing that this band have continues to only get better over the years.

Ending with Final Sky from the 2005 album Idolator, the fans present in the chat were definitely craving more.

After the show, the band got together to chat casually and answer fans questions, announcing that two new songs are to be released in December. This news was well received by fans in the live chat.

After the postponement of their UK show back in March, plus shows due to take place on Japanese soil, Blood Stain Child came hard into this live stream. They have gained a following from their high impact live shows, and they did not disappoint their fans tonight.

Fans both domestic and international will await news of live shows in the coming months.

To support Blood Stain Child