Bridear’s Decide to Survive tour offers a touch of joy

There is nothing quite like seeing a band live — something that is even more true when the band is as full of energy as Bridear. Their particular brand of metal is perfectly suited to a live concert, so I was plenty excited to get the chance to catch their gig in Huddersfield on September 9, 2022.

This was part of their Decide to Survive tour and highlighted exactly why they are one of the most exciting Japanese metal bands you can catch live. I even had the chance to chat with them, with the translation help of their friendly tour manager.

Bridear brings joyful exuberance to metal


Sometimes metal bands feel afraid to express joy. Certainly, in some sub-genres, darkness and anger feel more common than anything positive, but that wasn’t the case on this tour. Bridear feels like a band that wants to give their fans something different. From the opening moments of the concert through to the final encore, the stage was filled with positive energy I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

That energy started with the opening act The Kut, a brilliant punk outfit that felt right at home among the metalheads in the audience. I hadn’t heard much of them before this concert and I’m definitely going to check them out.

Bridear’s set opened with a touch of drama. The band posed on stage with dimmed lights and the intro to Side of a Bullet off the band’s 2022 album, Aegis of Athena. As you’d expect, this album featured heavily throughout the night, but I didn’t mind because I would say it is probably the best collection of tracks they have produced so far. It feels like this album is filled with a spirit of rebellion.

Determination, which contains the lyric that gave the tour its name, was described by lead vocalist Kimi as “a rallying cry,” saying that she hoped people would “hear it and find inspiration” for their own battles.

Bridear singer and drummer
Singer Kimi and drummer Natsumi

Bridear is ten years into their career and coming off a series of line-up changes to the band, something that has spelled disaster for many groups in the past, but in this case I honestly expect that the best is yet to come. This is a monster of an album and a must-listen for any metal fan out there. It has been shaped by the times we live in – Brave New World Revisited, for example, tackles the pandemic according to bassist Haru. Aegis of Athena takes some classic metal sounds and updates them for the modern world in a way that few bands manage to.

The gig in Huddersfield was at The Parish, a pub with a stage nestled snugly on the upper floor. It is an intimate venue, with fans able to stand just a few feet from the performers. I must admit that I was worried as I walked in that the small stage would feel cramped with the five members of Bridear on it, but the group feels like air – able to compress and expand to any size needed to put on a great show.

They could play a huge arena and I’m not convinced it would dilute or enhance their performance in any way. They seem to simply love to perform live and pass that joy easily onto the audience, no matter how large or small.

Bridear bassist Haru
Bassist Haru

I was, throughout the show, struck by the boundless enthusiasm the band shared both with us and with each other. If there was a hint of jetlag after their journey from Japan or any fatigue from the road after they had already crisscrossed the UK, it didn’t show even for a moment.

Haru looked almost angelic in her flowing gothic dress with ribbons on her bass and in her hair, which was a delightful contrast to the death growl she sang with during many of the songs. She seems to delight in the heavier songs the band plays; during moments when the two guitarists were front and centre on stage, she would be in the back, jumping excitedly to the music. All of it adds to the sense of fun coming through on stage.

Ayumi and Moe provided a brilliant dual guitar sound with both getting a solo or two to shine. Despite touring together for less than a year, the two balance each other off nicely. “I feel that our concert performances are changing for the better,” Ayumi told me when I asked about how the recent change to the band had impacted them. “Each show on the tour has been a positive experience. It has been instant chemistry with Moe.”

Kimi’s vocals are only part of her appeal as a frontwoman to Bridear. Her ability to win over the crowd seemed almost effortless. As the only member of the band not weighed down by an instrument, she provides much of the movement and energy on the stage. It is a role she is well suited to, coaxing the audience to join in the refrain of songs like Determination – my personal favourite track off Aegis of Athena and possibly my favourite Bridear song to date.

Even Natsumi, tucked away in the back on her drum kit, seemed to be having fun throughout the more than an hour the band spent on stage, pounding out drum solos and laying the foundation for the wall of sound that filled the venue. Even technically challenging songs like Side of a Bullet didn’t slow her down. Natsumi mentioned that the song was the most difficult to play but that it has “helped [her] grow a lot as a drummer.”

That ambition to keep growing and developing as a band is something palpable within Bridear. When I asked about their plans for the future, several members expressed their desire for a world tour to push their sound further. “We have performed in Europe many times,” Kimi said, “And we love it, but there are new horizons still to be explored and we’re looking forward to it.”

Bridear seem capable of almost effortless joy and that was my biggest take away from the concert in Huddersfield. Their music is brilliant and their skill is undeniable, but I find myself fixated on their enthusiasm that so easily transcends language barriers.

Fresh out of a long period of lockdowns and with a cost-of-living crisis looming in the UK, it can feel overwhelming and difficult to find an excuse to be joyful. Bridear reminds me that music, regardless of the trappings of the genre, is meant to inspire joy. If have even the slightest interest in metal music, you owe it to yourself to see this band live the next time they come to the UK. Or pick up their live album that was recorded at the London gig of the Decide to Survive tour when it is released.

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