竜神 (RYUJIN) // (2/2) “I would like to introduce Samurai Metal around the world!”

Last week we already published part one of our interview with 篠本竜司 (Shinomoto Ryuji), in which we spoke about the reason behind the change from GYZE to 竜神 (RYUJIN), as well as 竜司 (Ryuji)’s musical history and his international ambitions as a Japanese metal musician.

Since 竜司 (Ryuji) was so open about every topic we threw at him, we obviously ended with a whole lot of material to work with. Including all of them in one article would become such a massive read that we were afraid of doing him and his band an injustice, so that’s why we decided to split this interview into two parts.

It took a week of waiting for all of you who’ve read part one right as it came out, but we would now like to present you with part two! In this part we talk about 竜神 (RYUJIN)’s first album (which has the same name as the band itself, making it a self-titled album) as well as 竜司 (Ryuji)’s plans for the future.

Part two is a little shorter than part one, but we do highly recommend reading part one first before starting on part two here, since this is a continuation, not a separate interview done at a later time.

With that being said, are you ready? Let’s go!


“I think being able to sing clean as well will make a big difference in my future.”

Your very first full length album under the new name is going to be the self-titled “竜神 (RYUJIN)”, but even those unfamiliar with your works have learned by now that this isn’t your first album. There are quite some differences with the last album “Asian Chaos”, aren’t there?
竜司 (Ryuji): The big feature is that it was produced by Matthew (Heafy, Trivium/IBARAKI), and he also decided on the song selection, mix engineer and artwork! He noticed my clean vocals, and I sang more than I did before.
This album also includes our first ballad- and pop power metal songs. I don’t think these would have been included if he hadn’t produced it. As I said in part one last week already, this album is the first time we had an American engineer, which gave it a fresh sound.

Due to time constraints at the moment of conducting this interview, we couldn’t talk about each song by itself in detail. Instead we’ve decided to limit ourselves to a few songs that really stand out by themselves, but we cannot recommend you enough to give the 竜神 (RYUJIN) album a listen to get the full picture of 竜司 (Ryuji)’s compositions and ideas.

Matthew is not only the producer of this album, he also has a big presence on it as a vocalist. You are the sole composer for 竜神 (RYUJIN), but did you compose with the intention to bring Matthew in from the start, or was this decided at a later time?
竜司 (Ryuji): It was decided in a very natural way! While we talk about the song I’ll sing it, and we bounce ideas off of each other like that. The original idea for “Raijin & Fujin” came from Matt, so it was only natural for him to sing it! “Saigo no Hoshi” includes two patterns, of which one is written in Japanese by me, and the other is sung by Matthew in English. It turned out really great!

竜神 (RYUJIN) // Raijin & Fujin (MV)


Speaking of “Saigo no Hoshi”, there are two versions included on the album. One in Japanese, and one in English. Do you have a special reason for including both?
竜司 (Ryuji): The reason why I included two versions of this song is because I wanted to appeal to both Japanese and English speakers. Matthew’s version was amazing, so I wanted to include it! The lyrics for this song are a bit sad, and I wanted the speakers of each language to enjoy it. I also wanted to let people know how much the first impression of a song can change when sung in a different language and who sings it, despite it being the exact same song.

You work a lot with both Japanese and English, and it really comes forward with the inclusion of both versions of “Saigo no Hoshi”, but how do you decide when to use which language?
竜司 (Ryuji): When Japanese sounds more appealing to me as music, I will choose Japanese. And when English feels right, I will choose English. So there is no real explanation, it’s based on the feeling in the moment.

Aside from Matthew there is another guest musician on the album, namely 向井航 (Mukui Wataru), who is the principal cellist of the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra. To some this seems like a bit of a strange collaboration (even with your classical background in mind), so please tell us more.
竜司 (Ryuji): 向井 (Mukui)-san also had a very natural flow. “Saigo no Hoshi” originally included a cello sample, so I loved the idea of him playing it. In the end he was included in “Kunnecup” by his own request. Apparently it was his favorite song on the album!

You mentioned already that this album has different influences like your first ballad- and pop power metal songs. One of these songs that really stands out is “The Rainbow Song”, mainly because of your clean vocals..
竜司 (Ryuji): This actually wasn’t a song I wrote for the band. I wrote “The Rainbow Song” for my own personal reasons. So I was very worried at first about how it would fit. I tried many different ways of singing, and asked Matthew to choose which one he thought was best.
I’m definitely suited to growling, but I think being able to sing clean as well will make a big difference in my future. That’s why I’m already thinking of singing like that again when I need a clean song in my future works!

竜神 (RYUJIN) // The Rainbow Song (MV)


竜神 (RYUJIN) includes twelve tracks, of which ten are original songs and one is the English version of “Saigo no Hoshi”, but there’s also a cover song…
竜司 (Ryuji): Yes there is! “紅蓮の弓矢” (Guren no Yumiya) is originally by Linked Horizon, and it’s a song that was used in the 進撃の巨人 (Attack on Titan) anime. This song was actually a request from Matthew as well! It looks like he’s a big fan! I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know about this song until he told me…! (laughs)
But it was a great song, and I definitely had fun making this cover!


“I would be really happy if Samurai Metal could become a world standard.”

Your new album is available through Napalm Records, but we’ve already established in part one of this interview that this is a label based in Europe. I assume they ship worldwide, but I do want to ask about options for Japan.
雪 (Yuki): I feel so awkward asking this question, because normally it’s the other way around! How can people who aren’t in Japan get their hands on a CD? Now it’s actually the exact opposite!
竜司 (Ryuji): (laughs) I think it will be released for Japan, yes! I’m actually not really involved in this process, I leave it up to my manager and label so I am not the one to ask for details. However, I would really like it if you could get the original version through Napalm Records regardless!

We already spoke about how Japan is very different from the rest of the world in terms of selling CDs rather than making use of streaming services in anything other than Japanese. How about you though? You do use social media and streaming in English don’t you?
竜司 (Ryuji): Yes, absolutely. Social media is of course is convenient. But do you really retrieve your information from there regularly? In terms of streaming services, you can find our new album on Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp yes. I don’t know how to answer this question properly though, since the use of social media will continue to change over time, but I am glad that you care about us in any way you can!
雪 (Yuki): Streaming seems to become more and more popular here in Europe. While I use it myself too, I am still a CD person and actively try to get my hands on the physical releases that I like. There’s still something magical about seeing the artwork and effort that goes into these releases, which I really miss on streaming.

I’m getting really close to the end of my list for today, but I would like to ask you if you have any plans for the future you can share with us already?
竜司 (Ryuji): For our short term plans I would like to go on another world tour and introduce Samurai Metal 竜神 (RYUJIN) to metalheads around the world! I also want to continue to write good songs every day.
For our long term plans, I would like to tour as a headlining act and perform on the main stage of many festivals. Furthermore, I would be really happy if Samurai Metal could become a world standard.
Looking ahead, I would like to write a masterpiece that people will listen to even after I die someday. Much like classical music is now!

This entire interview I have been bombarding you with question after question, but let’s turn this around for this one question. Is there anything you would like to know the readers?
竜司 (Ryuji): What kind of music do you expect from us in the future?

And with that I have reached the end of my long list for today. Since we couldn’t properly close off part one with a message, how about we do that for part two now?
竜司 (Ryuji): Thank you until the end! We will do our best to come to the city you live in, so let’s meet at the venue then!

We really hope that you’ve enjoyed 竜司 (Ryuji)’s in depth answers about well, everything!
It’s quite rare for us that we get to speak with a musician so openly about so many different topics, and that they’re willing to give such a detailed insight in their thought process and how their music is created behind the scenes.

After the interview was conducted, the third music video for the 竜神 (RYUJIN) album was revealed, and it’s probably not going to be a surprise to any of you that this turned out to be “Saigo no Hoshi”. (It sure wasn’t a surprise to us, based on how enthusiastically 竜司 (Ryuji) spoke about this song to us already!) Next to Matthew K. Heafy this song also features 向井航 (Mukui Wataru), so that completes the circle we made in this interview, don’t you think?

竜神 (RYUJIN) // Saigo no Hoshi (MV)

I don’t know what else to tell you other than a repeat of what 竜司 (Ryuji) has already said in both parts of the interview. The new album 竜神 (RYUJIN) can be found on Apple Music and Spotify for streaming, and a physical CD as well as an orange vinyl version are available through the webshop of Napalm Records.
So after that echo from me, I would like to thank you for your patience with this two-part interview, and of course thank you for reading this time too!


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雪 (Yuki) is the owner and driving force behind Arlequin.
She originally started the project in 2009 as a photographer under the name of Arlequin Photography, but developed an interest in journalism and translation ever since. Because of these interests interviews and reviews were added to the project, until it eventually hit the limits as a "photographer" in 2021, and Arlequin Magazine was added to the mix.

雪 (Yuki) is a native Dutch speaker with a graphic design degree, which means she is also the main person behind Arlequin Creations.
After all these years she is still the main person who does interviews the interviews and live photos that you see on Arlequin, but also a large chunk of the reviews and behind-the-scenes work and communication goes through her.

She speaks Dutch and English on a native level, but also understands Japanese and German.

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