Legendary Japanese hardcore punk
Sakevi Yokoyama - vocals
Randy Uchida - guitar
Kiichi - bass
Ironfist Tatsushima - drums
G.I.S.M. formed in 1979 (although their first release didn't appear until 1984
) and dissolved shortly after the release of their final album SoniCRIME Therapy
in 2001, due to the death of guitarist Randy Uchida
. They appeared on a number of compilations, notably the P.E.A.C.E. 2xLP (along with the Dicks
, Mob 47
and others), which provided them with exposure to an American audience in 1984. Their acronymic name has had a number of suggested meanings, including Guerilla
Incendiary Sabotage Mutineer, God
is in the Schizoid Mind, and Gai Individual Social Mean.
Much about G.I.S.M. is shrouded in rumor and hearsay. This is due to a number of factors: the band's singular and powerful aesthetic sense, their volatile live performances, and of course their music itself, which continues to amaze listeners and defy categorization 20 years later. Much of the G.I.S.M. mystique is connected to enigmatic lead singer Sakevi Yokoyama, whose mythic onstage intensity is transmitted through taped performances of varying quality.
G.I.S.M.'s records are adorned with often elaborate artistic designs recalling metal bands such as Celtic Frost
, the iconography of international terrorism (the Red Army Faction
, Red Brigades
, etc.), and the collage art of Dead Kennedys
accomplice Winston Smith
. One of G.I.S.M.'s most enduring visual creations is their anarchist circle A crossed with an AK-47
(a design still found all over on bootlegged t-shirts and backpatches). Sakevi's lyrics sometimes suggest a paradoxical combination of the antiwar and anti-militaristic stance of Crass Records
bands with the militant resistance characteristic of 1970s terrorist groups such as the Japanese Red Army
. At other times their meaning is more opaque, seeming to describe the alienation of the modern world and the suffering of mental illness.
Detestation LP (Dogma Records, 1984)
1) Endless Blockades for the Pussyfooter
2) Death Agonies and Screams
3) A.B.C. Weapons
4) Nih Nightmare
5) Document One
6) (Tere Their) Syphillitic Vagina's to Pieces
7) Nuclear Armed Hogs
G.I.S.M.'s first major release, and for many still the most beloved. The sound is a frenetic mix of hardcore speed and heavy metal guitar, equal parts Void
and Iron Maiden
. What pushes it over the top are Sakevi's unmistakable vocals, which were as extreme as anything at the time (his growls and screams are mixed with other styles, ranging from the bored, almost Darby Crash
-sounding rants on "Endless Blockades for the Pussyfooter" to the snorts and porcine noises on "Nuclear Armed Hogs"). The artwork is black-and-white, featuring a disturbing, slightly Winston Smith-esque collage on the front cover and terrific pictures of the band decked out in studs and leather, with a poster labelled "Punks is Hippies
." Sakevi has an image of a skull covering his face.
M.A.N. (Military Affairs Neurotic) LP (Beast Arts, 1987)
1) Good As It Is
2) Frozen Dirt
3) Nations Prosperity
4) Anatomy Love Violence GISM
5) Meaning Corrupted 1 "Fatigue"
6) M.A.N.(Military Affairs Neurotic)
7) Meaning Corrupted 2 "Degeneration"
8) Meaning Corrupted 3 "Destruction"
G.I.S.M. pushed further stylistically than Detestation
: upping both the metal
aspects of their sound and the vocal extremity, they coupled their unique style with industrial sound collages not so far removed from Throbbing Gristle
territory. The artwork features an outer sleeve with an X-ray
of a skull (with "GOD IS IN THE SCHIZOID MIND" written over the brain) and an image of facial muscles, etc. on the cover which it is imposed over.
Gai Individual Social Mean - Subj & Egos, chopped VHS (Beasts Arts, 1995)
A video release mixing live footage of G.I.S.M. with abstract, other-worldly imagery. One G.I.S.M. website describes the video:
Sakevi is beating up people left and right, runs around with teargas, blowtorches and chainsaws, leaving the front of the stage virtually empty. 'Our mission is to recall the mental tension of the people', he once wrote, 'and it would show as a guerilla band shooting out persistantly the fighting spirit against the collapsing world'. This pretty much reflect the intensity of the movie. A must see.
SoniCRIME Therapy CD (Beast Arts, 2001)
1) Dual Improvisations for Hypochondriac
12) Phenomenal Exile in Schizophrenic Patients
G.I.S.M.'s final and maybe most idiosyncratic release: extremely lavish packaging (CD comes in a black box with silver insiginia, with the liner notes containing striking black and silver collage work, as well as a sticker featuring the trademark circle AK-47 logo), coded song titles which refer to the songwriter(s), RUNS meaning Randy Uchida and Sakevi, and some of the band's harshest and most uncompromising music. The back of the CD case features a short prose piece written by Sakevi, entitled R4V:
The sanctuary has been obliterated to bits by Pagan's fell swoop. The simulacrum of Christ is iconoclastically removed from our memories and multiplies. Memories of death continually reverberate and transform within our subconscious. The infinite encroachment between the body bound by overwhelming program codes, and the endlessly recurring images of death - this the true incarnation of life itself.
Outsider LP (City Rocker, 1982)
, featuring the songs "Incest
", "Gash, Bite, Snatch", and "AAHB."
Great Punk Hits LP (Japan Records, 1983)
, featuring the songs "Death Exclamations" and "Fire" (the former is considered by many to be the band's all-time greatest song).
Hardcore Unlawful Assembly LP (AA Records, 1984)
, featuring "Still Alive" and "Nervous Corps" (the former featuring one of Randy Uchida's most awesome guitar riffs, recalling nothing so much as the theme music from Contra
P.E.A.C.E. 2xLP (R-Radical Records, 1984)
, featuring "Endless Blockades for the Pussyfooter."
The Punx Tape (JICC, 1985)
, featuring "Shoot to Kill" and "G.I.S.M."
There are also a great many bootlegs of G.I.S.M. material, due largely both to its rarity and the band's aforementioned formidable mystique:
Anarchy Violence 7" (Japanese Leather 1991, Germany)
Victorious Picture 7" (Japanese Leather 1993, Germany)
Viva Angel 7" + Casette Box set (Japanese Leather 1991, Germany)
Death Exclamations LP (No Label 1991, Germany)
Gism CD (a.k.a Nih Nightmare) (JPC 001 1995, USA)
Human Condition LP (Absolute Power 1995, GER?)
Gism CD (a/k/a Performance of War) (Performance Corps 1998, USA?)
Gism/Comes Split LP (? 1999, USA)
Detestation + Comp Bootleg LP (Gomad 2000, ?)
Gism/Sic - Split Live 7" (?? 2000, ?)
Anarchy Violence 7" (?? 2000, ?)
Live in Tokyo 1982-1983 (Absolute Power, 2003, EU)
Members of G.I.S.M. remain active: Sakevi does a noise project under the name SKV and Ironfist Tatsushima drums for Die You Bastard!. There are only two real sources of reliable G.I.S.M. info online: