540 Records and Todo Destruido are proud to present the latest call to arms from Japanese punk legends Forward, Future Troops, out now on LP! Featuring ten new tracks on a single disc, the release is the band’s first LP in six years and only their fourth in a storied twenty-two year career of state-of-the-art, nitro-fueled Japanese hardcore.
Established in 1996 from the ashes of the much revered Death Side, vocalist Ishiya and bassist You formed FORWARD, along with members of Insane Youth and more. Building upon the teachings of UK metal-punk legends Discharge, Forward’s unique “intelligent savage” approach to hardcore was and is decidedly their own, nodding at the work of Poison Idea, Anti-Cimex and others while forging an ironclad path strictly through word of mouth, DIY gigs and underground channels. Future Troops is a taut and explosive collection of tracks that spin yarns of police brutality, calls for peace, rumors of war, injustice, the effects of the Tokyo Olympics and more in a compact and tense 25 minutes of vitriol. You’ve never heard anything as furious as “A.C.A.B.,” you won’t be able to unclench your fist after “Tokyo Orympic,” “Hatered Union” or “Piece of Peace,” and the world won’t soon forget Future Troops.
Our take: It surprised me to learn from the label’s description that Future Troops is only Forward’s 4th LP. I probably have a dozen Forward records in my collection, but I guess most of them are EPs rather than proper full-lengths. Their early discography is full of gems like Act Then Decide and While You Alive, but their past several records have been the real crushers. Future Troops continues that trend and it might be the best Forward record yet. If you saw Forward on this most recent tour, you know they’re a band at the top of their game. I’ve seen Forward eight or ten times in the past 15 years, and their set in North Carolina this November was the best of them all. They’ve always been great players, but nowadays they’re master craftsmen of hardcore punk. Watching them play or listening to Future Troops is like watching Michael Jordan play basketball in the early 90s or Picasso paint in the 30s. Not only is the skill level incomprehensibly high but also there’s the graceful confidence of someone who knows what they’re doing, how to do it, and why they’re doing it. Whether it’s ragers like “A.C.A.B.” and “Mother Fucker Japan,” the nimble rhythms of “In the Chaos,” the more melodic “True Freedom,” or the epic title track that closes the album, Forward execute every second of music on this LP perfectly. While everyone acknowledges that Forward is a great live band, their records often get short shrift. Don’t make that mistake because Future Troops is a bulldozer.