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  1. 34 points
    I've been wanting to write some of this stuff out forever because I'm a huge digital packrat and I like to archive these types of things... I don't think any of this has been written out anywhere before, but I'm not sure how much people actually care about the fan culture part of VK here, especially the Japanese fan culture, and especially the online Japanese fan culture. But, just in case any of you are also level 50 Turbo Nerds I thought I should post it here. I hope this is a sensible place to put it?? this piece is WAY too long for how lame the subject is and i'm so sorry tl;dr: tanuki is old as fuck and there used to be another tanuki and forums are dead, long live tanuki edit: fixed a number i screwed up
  2. 28 points
    Just like the title says this is an attempt to bring back the m-h jrock awards for the year 2017 which last took place way back in 2012 and apparently ended do to lack of participation. Awards were given for best album, single, new band, etc. And all of this was decided by user votes. So I asked about reviving this and here's what @Zeussaid, Judging by all of the yearly best album/single reviews I would hope there's still some interest in something like this. So if you want to see the "Monochrome heaven J-Rock Awards 2017" then help me get this topic 50 likes and/or 50 comments by the end of the month.
  3. 25 points

    vk.gy - visual kei library

    Twitter 🌹 Patreon 🌹 Discord 🌹 YouTube 🌹 Facebook 🌹 RSS 🌹 Goods ✨vk.gy✨ (ブイケージ, like “v-k-jee” or “v-cage”) is a visual kei library powered by fans like you. It houses years of vk news, thousands of artist profiles, extensive discography information, and much more. (We've recently added official videos, so soon you'll be able to browse those in one place too!) We have exclusive information and images that you won't find anywhere else, as well as special features directly from the bands. ★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★ After joining, you can create your custom vk avatar, which will appear around the site. You can export your avatar as an icon to use at other sites, or as an auto-updating signature banner (which you've seen used by people here at MH). Of course the icon and banner are available in light or dark versions 🌚 ★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★ vk.gy is integrated with Mp3tag, so you can quickly and easily tag any CDs that you rip (and it automatically grabs cover art too). Simply download the script from your account page, drop it into the appropriate folder, and then you can utilize the full vk.gy database. ★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★ There are lots of other random features. If you just hate seeing romaji, you can toggle the site to Japanese mode at any time. If you're online 24/7, you can save your eyes by switching to dark mode in your account settings. There's a flyer of the day, artist of the day, weekly band access ranking, artist tagging, release rating, the ability to track releases that you own, and more. vk.gy is under active development (shoutout to co-developer @Peace Heavy mk II), and we do consider suggestions/requests from the community. ★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★ If you'd like to support vk.gy, you can upgrade your account to 👑VIP status through Patreon. VIP members get almost-daily development updates, access to a limited Discord channel, exclusive avatar options, beta access to new features, priority support, priority consideration of feature requests, and more. For any exclusive images around the site, VIP members get access to the full-res, unwatermarked versions (and this extends to Mp3tag as well). You'll also get a “VIP” badge beside your username, and a ★ by your username in your forum banner. There are occasional physical rewards too! All Patreon supporters are listed on the main page of vk.gy. They're responsible for keeping the site running, and for funding occasional events such as our t-shirt giveaway, New Year postcards, and free stickers. So shoutout to all of the amazing Patreon supporters, and special shoutout to RarezHut and 666 Bistro, who support at the advertiser level! ★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★ ✨If you would like to help✨ If you want to add information to the site, just let me know your username and I'll set you up. Or, pop into our Discord and tell us what you know. The Discord is also the best place to let us know about any bugs, or to make feature requests. We're also looking for people who can help translate the Japanese press releases/live reports that we get, or for people who can help manage our social media accounts. Of course, you can also help the site just by using it. Leave some comments, tag some artists, rate a release or two, or check a random band in the database and learn something new. If you've read through all of this, thank you for your time m(_ _)m ★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★・・・・・・★ ✨vk.gy✨ Twitter 🌹 Patreon 🌹 Discord 🌹 YouTube 🌹 Facebook 🌹 RSS 🌹 Goods
  4. 25 points
    The Reverend

    UNDEUX: The Drama

    A Dramatic Retelling of the Time the Dude from Undeux Went Missing but then Ordered a Pizza With the Band's Line Account by The Reverend ACT ONE FADE IN: EXT. TOKYO ALLEYWAY, ENTRANCE TO IKEBUKURO BLACK HOLE -- EVENING CUT TO: INT. BACKSTAGE DRESSING ROOM The vanity shelves are filled with various makeup and hair products. Members from various indies VK bands are milling about; applying makeup, styling hair, strumming vacantly on guitars. As we pan to the rear corner the members of Undeux are half in costume chatting while getting dressed. (If writing is visible it is in Japanese. All speech is in English.) AL (GUITAR) Can you believe this asshole? He was supposed to be here like two hours ago? What if he doesn't show? Luchat turns away from the mirror while affixing feathers to his wig. LUCHAT (DRUMS) Can any of you guys sing? AL Riku couldn't sing! Anyone willing to get up there and just kinda shriek occasionally while pointing into the audience and making up some furi? Koji is sitting on the floor applying fake blood to his face. KOJI (BASS) No can do. You guys are already making me play bass; I've got enough to try and remember. AL Damnit. Kai walks through the door in full stage makeup buttoning his bloody white shirt. KAI (GUITAR) Hey has anyone heard from... AL No. KOJI No. LUCHAT Nope. KAI Damnit. AL Alright we can't not go on stage now... Al spots a couple of boxes (formerly containing hairspray bottles) near the corner of the room and raises his eyebrows furtively. AL (CONT'D) I've got an idea! CROSSFADE from Al cutting one of the boxes with a pair of scissors to the band performing on stage with a 3-foot tall cutout of a person taped to a mic stand instead of a vocalist. The cutout has been splattered with fake blood. FADE TO BLACK as the band performs. ACT TWO EXT. A NONDESCRIPT APARTMENT COMPLEX IN EDOGAWA. TWO DAYS LATER. -- NIGHT CUT TO: INT. A SMALL JAPANESE APARTMENT WITH LOTS OF BAND POSTERS ON THE WALL. SOME FLOWERS/CARTOON PLUSHES/PRODUCTS THAT INDICATE IT IS A WOMAN'S ROOM ARE VISIBLE. A 20-SOMETHING GIRL IS LOUNGING ON THE BED MESSING WITH HER CELL PHONE. RIKU is sitting Indian-style on the floor with a laptop on his lap. There is some hard (but not offensively brutal) rock playing on his laptop speakers. RIKU (VOCALS, UNDEUX) You hungry babe? GIRL on the bed does not look up or to check whether or not her response is heard. GIRL Hmm? RIKU Want to go out? GIRL Ehh. RIKU Well *I'm* hungry. Let's go grab some food. GIRL I don't get paid till Friday, I'm kinda broke. RIKU has stood up and is rifling through the small cupboard and refrigerator. RIKU Damn, me too. I'm sick of instant noodles though, I'm gonna order some pizza. Whatchu want on your half? GIRL Where you ordering from? RIKU That Italian place downstairs. You can just hit 'em up on Line to order. GIRL Corn and mayo! RIKU Gross, fine. RIKU grabs his laptop and starts typing. SFX: PAN OUT THROUGH WINDOW TO WIDE SHOT OF APARTMENT BUILDING WITH GATHERING THUNDERSTORM IN THE BACKGROUND. MUSIC: DRAMATIC ORCHESTRAL HITS. FADE TO BLACK: ACT THREE EXT. SAME EDOGAWA APARTMENT COMPLEX. TWO HOURS LATER. -- NIGHT INT. SAME APARTMENT. MOSTLY FINISHED PIZZA/BOX SIT ON THE TABLE. GIRL IS STILL MINDLESSLY PLAYING WITH PHONE BUT LAYING WITH HEAD ON FOOT OF BED. RIKU is finishing a slice of pizza as he sits down at his computer again, looking very satisfied. MUSIC: OMINOUS BUT FAINT RIKU is reading intently on computer when his face drops and grows pale. He instinctively covers his mouth with his hand while continuing to scroll. RIKU Oh fuck. GIRL Huh? RIKU Oh fuck oh fuck. GIRL looks up from phone at RIKU. She is still lying on the bed. GIRL What's up? RIKU stands and begins pacing on the small apartment floor. RIKU Oh man this is not good... I was logged into the band's account when I ordered that pizza! GIRL Didn't you quit that band? RIKU I did! But I guess I hadn't logged out and into my own Line on my laptop. Shit! I didn't show up to our last show those guys are gonna be so pissed at me! GIRL sits up. GIRL Why were they expecting you at their show? RIKU Well, I quit the band... but didn't really tell them it would be *immediately*. They've been texting me non-stop. GIRL Oh my god, you idiot. RIKU I was trying to let them down easy! GIRL Just pay them back. RIKU I'm not worried about the money! GIRL Is this really that big a deal? RIKU Oh my god yes, you don't fuck with Rame and get away with it. I need to call my lawyer. GIRL *Your* lawyer? Who do you think you are? You definitely don't have some lawyer on retainer. RIKU I... you know what I mean! Seriously, I could be in some shit. SFX: PAN OUT THROUGH WINDOW TO WIDE SHOT OF APARTMENT WHILE RIKU IS PACING AND DIALING A NUMBER ON HIS CELL PHONE. IT IS RAINING HARD AND A SINGLE CROW IS CAWING ON SOME POWER LINES BELOW THEIR APARTMENT WINDOW. FADE TO BLACK: ACT FOUR EXT. AN UNIDENTIFIED AVERAGE TOKYO STREET. MANY PEOPLE ARE GOING ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS IN STORES ON THE STREETS -- DAY INT. A LUXURIOUSLY APPOINTED OFFICE. THE FOUR NON-VOCALIST MEMBERS OF UNDEUX SIT ON ONE SIDE OF A LARGE WOODEN DESK. A LARGE BALD BODYGUARD-TYPE MAN STANDS NEAR THE DOOR WEARING A SUIT AND SUNGLASSES. THE BAND, IN CASUAL CLOTHES, ARE FACING THE BACK OF A STATELY LEATHER OFFICE CHAIR ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DESK. The chair slowly spins around to reveal RAME of the record label GLKingdom and former bassist of VK band Vidoll. RAME is wearing a charcoal suit and a black tie. RAME Thank you for meeting me. Let's discuss how we can resolve this unfortunate... 'incident'. KAI Well... The members of Undeux look at each other nervously. AL Well, we want to keep going. We were hoping, you know, that maybe you knew a vocalist who would be interested... RAME laughs softly. AL (CONT'D) ...in joining the band. RAME Yes, yes. That can all be arranged. I was speaking more about what to do with Riku. LUCHAT Wha...? KOJI We still haven't heard from him. AL Well, other than the pizza thing. LUCHAT Yeah, what a dick. RAME pulls a white envelope from a drawer. RAME First, he quits the band and no-shows despite promising me he'd keep performing till the summer. RAME (CONT'D) Then, he hides and doesn't return any of my calls or texts. And finally... RAME opens the letter contained in the envelope. RAME (CONT'D) ...I get a letter from a lawyer claiming that the record deal you all signed was invalid and Riku not showing up was not a breach of contract at all. The members of Undeux are fidgeting in their seats but do not say anything. RAME (CONT'D) Our friend Riku needs a lesson in respect and honor. KOJI What do you...? RAME nods at the large man standing by the door. The bodyguard nods back and exits the room. RAME Let's not worry about Riku any longer. The members of Undeux look slightly afraid but don't move or speak. RAME (CONT'D) Now, about finding you guys a new vocalist... have you heard of the band QEDDESHET? FADE TO BLACK: ACT FIVE EXT. A GRIMEY TOKYO ALLEYWAY. IT IS RAINING LIGHTLY -- EVENING RIKU runs around a corner and places his hands on his knees to try to catch his breath. He is looking from side to side very nervously. RIKU starts walking quickly, while often looking over his shoulder, toward one end of the alley. As RIKU approaches a large man in a dark suit appears at the end of the alley that RIKU is headed toward. RIKU, panicked, turns and begins running in the opposite direction. RIKU is sprinting and splashing through puddles of the alley. As he nears the corner he appeared from originally another man in a suit emerges holding a black handgun. RIKU No! Please... The second suited man emotionlessly aims the gun at RIKU and pulls the trigger. The man wipes the gun with his pocket square and lays the gun down beside Riku's body. The suited men walk away quickly but confidently. OVERHEAD SHOT: Camera slowly pans upward as the blood from RIKU's gunshot mixes with the water his body is lying in. Camera pans upward until it is above the roofline and even the silhouette of RIKU's lifeless body has disappeared from view. CUT TO: INT. UNNAMED TOKYO LIVE HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF A PERFORMANCE. The band Undeux are walking out onstage to a pulsing techno track. A new, unidentified vocalist comes out last to lots of shouting from the crowd. The intro track ends and a drum fill signals the beginning of Undeux's first song. The new vocalist crouches over and unleashes an imperfect but earnest pig-squeal as the guitars kick in. The camera finds RAME at the rear of the club watching dispassionately. The large suited man from his office approaches and whispers something into his ear that is unheard over the band's performance. One corner of RAME's lips fold upward into a wry smile. FADE TO BLACK: TITLE CARD: fin.
  5. 24 points
    In that case visual kei might not be for you
  6. 24 points

    5 Things I Love About VK

    For better or for worse, visual kei is something that's had an impact on my life. I never thought groups of cross dressing Japanese men playing metal would be something that's stuck with me for so long, but throughout all the surprises, discoveries, disappointments, and developments I've stuck around in some capacity. I may not be as heavy into visual kei or Japanese music as I used to be, but there's a part of me that will always go back to the music I've enjoyed and another part of me that's always looking forward to new bands, activities, and trends. Here are five things I really enjoy about the scene which has kept me coming back again and again since 1999. So those are all the things I like about visual kei. I'm sure I missed some. What do you like about visual kei?
  7. 22 points
    The visual-kei scene is full of its own quirks and oddities that make it stand out from any other subculture in the music world; these hallmarks also appear to resonate at a national level, in spite of the culture stemming from several metropolitan hubs, each with their own small variants. One of these traits, for better or for worse, is how willing the scene is to reference itself. Since 2013, “willing” has become the incorrect word. “Obsessed,” “addicted,” “driven,” “obligated”; these words seem to fit the bill closer. References to older material is not uncommon in any medium of art, but visual-kei takes it four steps further to emulation. Today is the day we talk about homage-系 (Kei), kids. “Homage-kei” is a made up word. It isn’t a real category to anyone else other than people who use this board, to be honest, but it is an apt descriptor for this phenomenon. This is when a band reuses melodies, thematic, aesthetics, and even titles from an older, typically more successful, band or bands. However: their music also contains many original elements, which sets them apart from being a literal cover band. It also needs to be more than a single occurrence as well: Dir en grey “””borrowing””” the main riff of Luna Sea’s “G” is not enough, but borrowing the front-man of 黒夢 (Kuroyume)’s aesthetic for several music videos is. There are several bands that would fall under this umbrella from the late 2000’s. Two I want to touch on are Ru:Natic and the infamous Vajra. The first was one of the earliest examples I can think of that tried to revive the aggressive and bloody punk-meets-goth-meets-pop style popularized in the mid-90’s. They wore black clothes, had neon hair, and sang about being a crazy person invited to dinner parties that they had no business attending. While they weren’t the only group doing this (re: Sadie’s Mary and Sadie’sla), they were the first to start reusing melodies from older bands, namely La:Sadie’s, Madeth Gray’ll, and Aliene Ma’riage. There was even a hard-to-come-by single that was a reinterpretation of Baiser’s “undersea” and they had a demo tape that contained covers from some of the bands previously mentioned. They even lost a bunch of members, changed record labels, and released a lot of rare material: all cornerstones of “what an old school band does.” In my memory of the scene, this was the first time we got a real taste of bands reinventing the 90s sound that many people liked, but had fallen out of favor. Vajra was fun for the wrong reasons. Their costumes were kind of similar to UnsraW and thematically they were a bit too close to Dir en grey for the fan base at the time’s comfort. One of their singles was apparently a near 1:1 facsimile of another Dir en grey track and that caused a shitstorm on last.fm . For days people were arguing back and forth about whether it was a copy or not. Our own dear @Zeus requested someone overlay it with the original so we could see how similar it was. I personally did not have a horse in that race, but for hours or entertainment seeing the bickering between the hordes of people in outrage vs that one person who apparently went to their shows regularly and gave sympathetic updates about how this was affecting the band personally. Take his with a grain of salt, as it is only a Western interpretation of what happened and I cannot speak to how it was received by fans who could actually go see them in person. Regardless of where you stood in this fight, history’s take is that it did not end well for Vajra; they broke up shortly after only to be remembered as “that band that tried to be Diru.” Both examples were, in retrospect, unsuccessful. Ru:Natic, in their heyday, missed the boat on people eating up old-school revival acts by about 3 years, then only played again in one-off events. Vajra, on the other hand, failed for a couple of reasons. The first is that the fan base wasn’t ready for their style of tribute-meets-original-works. Secondly, there wasn’t enough time passed between what they performed and when their source material was released. Based on later act’s success, time helps prevent “a homage” from being seen as “a rip-off.” Earlier I had mentioned 2013 being the starting point for “homage-kei,” in a more official (but still unofficial) sense. That’s because グリヴァー (GRIEVA) happened and caused a shift in the scene. For those unfamiliar, Grieva’s whole schtick was that they dressed like a modern version of 1998 Dir en grey and made music that sounded like it could have came from from the same time frame. However, after people got a hold of their first album, it became alarming clear that it was one big tribute to “Gauze” (Dir en grey’s first album). A lot of songs “borrowed” the melodies of Gauze-era songs, their music videos were kind of like high school kids reenacting their idol’s work for a class project, and you were even able to draw parallels to the lyrical content. Grieva handled this clearly stating their theme is to bring back the feeling of the old days, and even fabricated a whole interview about how they went on a quest for band members that held the same ideals. Unlike Vajra, when people confronted them by saying “You’re just stealing,” them saying “Yeah, but that’s like the point???” it worked. Granted, there were plenty of people who weren’t buying this act and loathed the whole idea, but there was more than enough support for it to keep them at the forefront of the scene up until 2015. In fact, it worked so well that their label made it happen AGAIN, but this time with a band that pretended to be The GazettE and another that mixed all different concepts from the eroguro scene and western nü-metal together. This was the first time in visual-kei where blatantly copying on purpose wasn’t met with more backlash than praise. Several other acts spawned at the same time, due to a strong desire for “bands that sound like old school groups.” This was in part due to Cell, an offshoot of La’Mule that made somewhat similar music, Lin, a Kisaki band that came after he swore he was retired, and a general sense of boredom from the run-of-the-mill bands that dressed like host boys. Other groups that come to mind include Gauzes (a La’Mule homage-kei group), DEZERT (their first singles were nü-metal interpretations of groups like D’espairsRay and Nega), and AvelCain (who took more influence from groups like Lamiel than their fan base wanted to admit). Suddenly, it was cool to be like someone else. Eventually, the hype waned a bit. Grieva started writing their own music and then eventually split after being worked to death by their label. It was mostly the same case for AvelCain, Cell went on break because frontman Kon can’t keep focused on one thing, DEZERT found (and then killed) their own style, and most of the other old school sounding bands weren’t big enough to really make a lasting impact. This was the death of homage-kei. Or was it??? Interestingly enough, in recent years, this scene metamorphosed along with the scene at large. We started seeing groups now begin to “take influence from” more recent acts (which I guess are still old if you’re younger than 20??). We had メディーナ (Mediena), who took a lot from Phantasmagoria, ガンミ (Ganmi), which sounded like an early 2000s band without a real influence to pin point, and Mamireta, who tried to restart the subculture in high gear with their refreshing takes on 蜉蝣 (Kagerou)’s music. There are even big acts forming side projects that “sound like a 90’s band!!”, like Diaura(who are not guilt-free themselves, when it comes to Pierrot worship) and ぞんび (Zonbi). Even Gossip-ゴシップ- went from copying The GazettE to emulating their label owner’s old band (albeit at gunpoint (allegedly!)). It is worth noting that another significant change: aside from a few examples, the current trend has become "I want to sound like ___," rather than "guess which ___ songs I combined!!!" Arguably, the style should have started with this mentality, but controversy creates buzz. Unoriginality in the visual kei scene is nothing new. We even have an entire thread dedicated to specific instances where someone took a riff or theme and matches it to the exact source material it came from. But homage-kei really takes it to the next level. Bands want you to know who they’re sounding like. Could it be for nostalgia sales? Or because recreating a well liked motif makes it easier for someone to like a new creation (they’re already emotionally invested)? Or is it just a lazy cash grab, which requires 40% less effort to produce material? Maybe it is fulfilling a fantasy to reenact what you love about your idols? In spite of how much I adore everything mentioned throughout this article, I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that it is probably a mix of all four.
  8. 22 points
    Chronic Bandmate Slappin' Disorder, it's untreatable
  9. 21 points

    VK grandma represent \o/

    Welcome my dear children! How's vk doing these days? 😎 I see you can even listen to your weird japanese metal on Spotify, kids have it way too easy nowadays... BACK IN MY DAY I had to hunt single songs in 92kbps on dial-up Limewire and half the time ended up with "I did not have sexual relations with that woman.mp3". Funny story, that's how I got into vk! 13-year-old me was browsing the wide web, probably for some quality Britney Spears, and found a grainy Miyavi's Jibun Kakumei PV instead. With a 20MB download limit per day, I thought CLOSE ENOUGH and the rest is history. Now I'm back after over 10 years of impersonating a Serious Adult™ and I have Opinions™ to share. Some bands that I used to listen to (some of which are surprisingly still around!): Miyavi (duh), MUCC, Merry, girugamesh, 9GOATS BLACK OUT, Hora, Kaya, Schwarz Stein (can't believe they got back together, it's like I never left!) and the whole shebang, Aural Vampire, Kagrra,, Yoshiki's classical stuff~ And some bands that I've discovered in the past few weeks and absolutely love: Initial'L and consequently Lycaon, DIMLIM, Xaa-Xaa~ Also, I'm Anna 💩 P.S. I also listen to a lot of kpop, all kinds of electronic and celtic music; don't expect there to be much overlap but you never know! if your music taste is as all over the place as mine, hit me up, we can share obscure recommendations!
  10. 21 points
    Greetings, Monochromians! I hope everyone is doing well! After publishing our list for albums that turned 10 years old in 2017, we thought it would be fun to keep it going and do one for 2018 as well! I actually intended to publish this before 2018 came to a close, but it's all good! It's been a busy season for us all, and we ain't gonna let that stop our flow!!! So let's take a trip back to 2008 and see what J-rock was poppin' a decade ago!!! LET'S GET IT! 夢中夢 イリヤ -ilya- You're a few songs deep into -ilya- before you realize you're listening to something truly unique. 夢中夢 were nice enough to ease you into having your mind blown. At first the album sounds like it could be Mouse on the Keys with an operatic female vocalist. Full of catchy, lilting piano leads and swirling drums. Before too long, however, 夢中夢 are spicing things up with demonic snarls and sharp metal riffs. Now the fast, underproduced drums and organs are working with the dual vocalists and guitars to create an enchanting melange of viciousness and baroque post-jazz that's just downright hard to describe. Sure, unabashedly pretty, ethereal black metal is all the rage now; but 夢中夢 had a softer take that has yet to be replicated. It's the only album I own that I can imagine portions acting as the soundtrack to a knock-off Disneyland kiddie adventure ride, and other portions being played between sets at the Roadburn Festival. by @The Reverend DIR EN GREY UROBOROS 10 years and a month ago, DIR EN GREY released their seventh studio album UROBOROS amidst much fanfare. The album was instrumental in bringing JRock to its height of popularity in the west, during an the era that saw them tour extensively and receive airwaves in Europe and North America. Released off the back of their 2007 album Marrow of a Bone, UROBOROS delivered a theme that represented the cycle of birth and death, marking a shift from the old Dir en grey to the newly incarnated DIR EN GREY. With it, they carried their sound to new experimental heights, melding western metal with oriental influences resulting in classics like “Vinushka,” “Dozing Green,” “Inconvenient Ideal,” “我、闇とて…” to life; even inspiring former Deg roadie Wataru's band 12012 to pay homage in their very out-of-character 2012 self-titled album. by @helcchi 9GOATS BLACK OUT devils in bedside A singer everyone thought was long retired appears from the ether. He announces a new band, two new musicians, and new music, but no samples or even a frame of reference was provided to set expectations. All we get is a name and the imagery of a goat. This sounds like the opening to a really corny joke, but this is how 9GOATS BLACK OUT erupted onto the scene in 2008; with neither a bang nor a whimper but a six track mini that commanded everyone's attention. In a time where metalcore was the most common style of music played and costumes were vibrant and gaudy, 9GOATS BLACK OUT is responsible for injecting both post rock influences and a new sense of fashion into visual kei. In the process, they birthed a sub style unlike anything anyone had heard or seen before. devils in bedside is a timeless affair that sounds fresh even in 2018. In fact, this album was a little too good; no matter the quality of the music that came after, 9GOATS could never escape the shadow of devils in bedside. This is visual kei for people burned out on visual kei, and still functions well as a springboard into various different projects and labels in the scene. by @Zeus The scene back in 2008 was littered with shiny brand new things for us to look at. When a murky and dark 9GBO emerged, it sure did stand out. People seemed very excited to have "ryo" back. Who the hell that guy was - I had no idea and the pictures and promo released prior to the album revealed little of the member's faces, that is, there was no eye candy to keep young me interested. Regardless, something about the melancholy of 9GBO caught my attention. Even your more mediocre metal vk band would be donned in extravagant hair or clothes, because of this, 9GBO's simplicity was hard to digest, they offered little to look at but also their melodies were unlike anything we'd heard before. It took practice to appreciate devils in bedside. It wasn't long before I was deeply hooked, replaying raw over and over gain because I simply couldn't get enough of how it felt. Without a doubt, this album has shaped my music taste into what it is today. If I need to get away into a mysterious and sultry fantasy world, I always come back here. by @platy ONE OK ROCK 感情エフェクト It's rare my memory of listening to a band for the first time is remotely clear, especially 10 years later, which is a huge credit to ONE OK ROCK being as I have the memory of a goldfish. A friend played the music video "恋ノアイボウ心ノクピド(Koi no aibou kokoro no Cupid)" for me way back when and it was love at first listen. 感情エフェクト (Kanjou Effect) was a landmark album in a chain of releases that skyrocketed OOR to international popularity. Unfortunately, its legacy became slightly marred with the arrest of the band's lead guitarist, Alex, that caused much of the album's promotions to be halted and deleted from the internet, including the previously mentioned music video. Kanjou Effect still stands strong in OOR's discography, despite the bad press surrounding it. It has all the melodic staples of their later work, but the vigor of youth added a rawness to this album that they were never quite able to capture again. by @doombox school food punishment Riff-rain school food punishment made their official debut just a year prior to 2008 and they'd quickly established themselves as one of the most promising new indie bands around with the two EPs they released. So when "Riff-rain" came out, I thought it would be pretty good, but I did not expect it to be THIS DAMN GOOD! True to the EP's name, "Riff-rain" is like a non-stop downpour musical goodness, as the band is playing is tighter than they've ever played before, and there's a noticeable intensity and drive to their songwriting that was only hinted at in their previous EPs. The band had finally came into their own. Unfortunately, this was their final EP as an indie band before going major and embracing more of an overly poppy, anison sound. But for many fans, this is regarded as their best work - an EP that captures SFP in perhaps their most promising era. (this EP gets bonus points because if you put it on repeat, it plays in a perfect loop! ) by @CAT5 ギルガメッシュ MUSIC It blows my mind to reflect on how far girugamesh have come. MUSIC was a very polarizing release at launch because girugamesh courted a particular type of visual kei fan with their affinity for all black clothes and depressing metal core music. These same fans didn't appreciate girugamesh going full Linkin Park and electronic, which was the CliffNotes consensus at the time, but a lot of the apprehension was also rooted in a fear that they would leave their old looks and sound for brighter pastures. That fear was very real; had we known what the next album would be at the time, we would have prized MUSIC a little more. MUSIC is a transitional period in girugamesh's history because it fits snugly at the intersection of the dark and heavy tone of earlier releases and the fun and lightheartedness of later releases. This was an album they clearly designed to have fun playing live, and this is an album that I throw on whenever I need a burst of energy. I also believe this is one of the earliest - and probably most influential - albums that used a heavy dose of electronic elements, which would go on to influence not just this band, but also inspire countless other acts such as MUCC, D'espairsRay, REALies, and 2nd Dyz. by @Zeus My fondest memories from the last decade would not be complete without Girugamesh. Truly a definition of the times, it was their album Music that cemented recognition to a young fanboy like myself. Sure, some might say that music was a far-cry to the hardcore rock they were known for at the time, but I like to think that this small experimentation worked. Seamlessly mixing in beats and melodies into their already amazing rock style, as an alternative to having Satoshi keep wrecking his vocal chords, you could say Ryo was a genius and believe it lol. It’s an experiment gone right, and I can definitely tell you this was my most played album in 2008. by @YuyoDrift Versailles NOBLE The official full-length debut of the band of ultimate beauty took place in July, 2008, about one full year after they released their debut single, The Revenant Choir. This album marked something new in my own VK fandom as well as a very large amount of fans around the globe. These five individuals had presented themselves as pure art, something other than human. Most importantly, everything sounded new and fresh. An album like this had seemingly not been done, even by previous projects. The album proper was over an hour long and never lost momentum. The associated music video, "Aristocrat's Symphony", perfectly pictured what this project was going to be about. Now, 10 years later, it is still one of the defining albums of my youth. In hindsight of the overall project, however, they absolutely should have let Teru compose more! by @ShanethVarosa Plastic Tree ウツセミ When I think of Plastic Tree's album Utsusemi, I think of the mellow guitars, peaceful synths, and calm tambourines. Being released a year after their album ネガとポジ (Nega to Poji), Utsusemi gave a much softer sound in comparison with only a few upbeat songs like "テトリス" and "GEKKO OVERHEAD". But even those songs were still considered soft when comparing them to songs like "不純物" or "無人駅" from Nega to Poji. Utsusemi, in a sense, was less edgy and more poppy, which might have drawn away some fans, but to me listening to a Plastic Tree album was like reading a book with its own story. Utsusemi made me feel like I was floating in a clear body of water on a breezy summer day. I can say the same for the album art as well. Everything felt light and airy, and Ryutaro's soothing vocals kept my heartbeat to a calm. In fact, Ryutaro rarely strained or raised his voice during the entire album, which made it all the more calming to listen to. Despite saying that, there are several interludes of human background noises slipped in between tracks that break my small reverie and remind me of the real world I live in. Utsusemi may not hold up as well as other Plastic Tree albums, but it carries a consistent blissful and tender tone making it a unique album of its own. by @plastic_rainbow SuG n0iZ stAr SuG have a certain reputation in the scene, some say their music is bad. But regardless of how you feel about them, their first album is proof of how far they've come as musicians. It's a mixed bag with poor production and insufferable vocal work. But the worst sin of it all, are the visuals that came with n0iZ stAr. The pv for Vi-Vi-Vi is a fun yet ugly affair full of sparkly silver fabric, leopard prints and ruffles. Believe it or not, fangirls around the world were going crazy for Takeru's star spangled bald patch and insane murderer smile. The tracks vary from sugary happiness to some pretty heavy tunes considering SuG's repertoire at the time. Looking back, Chiyu's bass was the backbone to most of the album, which is probably why I still kind of enjoy it to this day. On one hand you have decent tracks like the lovely ballad "RomantiC" and the fast paced "ヤミツキディレイ" (disregard the use of autotune) and on the other hand you have "うえすとふぁいとすと~り~" and "pikaLIFE". The former should be used as a form of torture, the latter would have been better off if time had erased it from its bland, meaningless existence. Not much later in the same year, SuG released the mini Punkitsch which blew n0iZ stAr out of the water with it's clear direction and heavier and more polished sound, and once again, outstanding work from bassist Chiyu. n0iZ stAr laid out what fans should expect from SuG in the future, always wandering between light and darkness, treading the line between shitty pop and decent punk rock. (don't @ me, I still love them) by @platy ミドリ あらためまして、はじめまして、ミドリです。 midori were at the top of their game in 2008. They had just made their major debut with their shimizu EP towards the end of 2007, and were already amassing a cult following of international J-rock fans. This album was their first major full-length, and for the time being, it seemed like the band had successfully avoided the dreaded 'indie-to-major curse'. In fact, the transition was seamless. The band's cacophonous Jazz-Punk sound that had brought them this far merely flourished on this album. Hell, it's a wonder that a major label even signed off on an album like this with practically no commercial appeal. Sadly, this was midori's last great work before they released their DISMAL final album and disbanded in 2010. by @CAT5 exist†trace Recreation eve You may not know it, but exist†trace were among the top acts in 2008, becoming the most recognized all-female Visual Kei band of this era. Providing a satisfying sampling to the band’s usage of melodic death metal, the band’s first full album Recreation eve contained distorted guitar play and riffs that were very appealing during this time, with the girls aggressively providing the dark undertones necessary to promote their Visual Kei aesthetic, as well as shock factor. Lead Vocalist Jyou could growl and scream like you wouldn’t believe back then and it was tracks like “Water”, “Judea”, and "Venom" that showcased her versatility as well as the entire band's potential. It was with Recreation eve that the band gained wide stream recognition both in Japan and the West, leading to a European tour that same year. If you wanna feel this era of VK to its fullest then you'll give this album a listen. by @YuyoDrift exist†trace has had an amazing run for the last ten years, much better than anyone would have expected back in 2008. Women then and now are still uncommon in visual kei, and the acts that did exist were small and had infrequent releases, and maybe only one female member. There was a niche waiting to be explored here, and exist†trace graced the scene in 2003 with an unexpected heavy goth sound inspired heavily by D'espairsRay. The inspiration was so obvious, they had the nickname of "budget D'espa" among fans for a few years. Recreation eve is a collection album that captures exist†trace at the end of this five year period, shortly before they underwent the visual and sonic transformation that turned them into the band we know them as today. The name of the compilation even hints at it (although no one thought much of it then)! The production feels a bit thin compared to what we can expect from them now, but the song writing and some riffs still hit hard. exist†trace made the right call in switching up their sound when they did because I don't think they had enough ideas or flexing room to continue in their original sound, and reinventing themselves gave them the breathing room they needed to make music more quickly. I miss this version of them, but sometimes we have to let a good thing go. by @Zeus kacica MOSAIC By 2008, the Japanese post-rock scene was booming and there were plenty of bands to go around with new ones surfacing every day it seemed. kacica was one of the more interesting fringe acts to emerge from the scene...Like 101A and downy - they had a definite post-rock element to their music, but they weren't necessarily easy to classify as such. The band claimed influences from post-rock progenitors Sigur Rós and Mogwai, and while their impact is palpable, kacica has an extensive musical palette that draws from psychedelia, progressive rock, and the avant-garde as well. All of these different elements coalesce brilliantly on the band's sophomore album "MOSAIC" which is downright otherworldly! This album is such a strange and wonderfully immersive listen that it'll make you feel as if you're on a massive intergalactic tour visiting different planets and experiencing bizarre new worlds. I love it! Definitely one of the coolest albums released in 2008 and a personal all-time favorite for me! (also one of the few bands who sing entirely in "Engrish" that I actually don't mind ) by @CAT5 the studs and hate 2008 marked a great turnaround for the Nagoya Kei scene as Daisuke of Kagerou and Aie of deadman had recently formed the studs in an effort to bring the genre back to its roots, as well as continue the already existing Visual Kei influence internationally. Along with Yukino from GULLET and Hibiki from Blast, it was during this year that their first full album and hate was released. This album successfully represents what each of the very experienced members in the Nagoya Kei scene had to offer as Aie had carried over the raw alternative sound that existed in deadman, and Daisuke with his heartfelt and emotional vocals that were once heard in Kagerou. Even greater than this was the musical arrangement and rich execution of instruments from all the members that allowed naturally beautiful melodies to be the very definition of their musical genius. Even after 10 years, this album's release still holds its acclaim as a must-listen, and truly grasps how great being a VK fan back then was. by @YuyoDrift DELUHI Surveillance DELUHI had an incredibly explosive beginning to their activities in 2008, spearheaded by vigorous touring and practice and supported with the release of their first album Surveillance, which was a seminal moment for visual kei and was recorded in less than two months. Before Surveillance, power metal and visual kei didn't really mix. DELUHI - and guitarist Leda in particular - crafted the blueprint for what I'll affectionately dub "power metalcore dipped in the dressings of visual kei". Perhaps the greatest success of this album is neither how good it is, nor how an indie band's first release shamed other acts - indie and major - into serious action, but how effortlessly the band was able to market power metal to a crowd that these sounds never appealed to. Take one part power metal, add some distortion to the guitars and a few harsh vocals, staple a saccharine chorus on top, do that four or five times with minor variations, and you have a formula for success. It's borderline genius in retrospect. Leda is a renowned and prolific guitarist today in his own right, but ten years ago was best known as the ex-bassist of Galneryus with a penchant for writing sick riffs. This is the album that put Leda on the radar, broke him out of those definitions, and blazed the trail that later acts like GALEYD would follow. by @Zeus LM.C SUPER GLITTER LOUD BOX LM.C was easily accessible for those who were too afraid to go deep into the world of vk. Their music was harmless fun and super catchy, they used to wear a lot of stuff that people going through their emo/scene phase could relate to. Stripy half gloves, anyone? For those reasons, in '08 LM.C was nearing the peak of their popularity in the west. SGLB is the perfect album to go crazy to and when compared to more recent releases from the duo, it's bursting full of life. Headbangers like "METALLY" and "@FUNNY PHANTOM@" and classics like "OH MY JULIET". Come on, we all belted along to that song at least once. This is the LM.C formula at its best. by @platy THE BACK HORN パルス One of the prevailing criticisms that I've heard about THE BACK HORN over the past decade or so is that the band started off strong with their first few albums, but quickly lost their spark afterwards. It's true to an extent: they originally hit the scene with a raw, fresh rock sound, and they DID eventually mellow out into a kind of mainstream mediocrity - HOWEVER, the band got a much needed second wind on Pulse. As their 7th major album, it was clear at this point that the band's songwriting had been tempered to suit the industry, but somehow, they managed to resurrect the passion of their early days and perfectly assimilate it into the refined and polished sound that they'd developed since. Fans were definitely pleased with the band's revitalized energy and this album marked the start of a new leg of inspired music from THE BACK HORN. Unfortunately, that energy only lasted for a few years before the band fell back into a mediocre slump, but THE BACK HORN has still had an incredibly solid career for a band that just celebrated their 20th anniversary this year. Pulse is one of their best. by @CAT5 Sadie UNDEAD13+2 I have an intense sentimental connection to UNDEAD13+2, despite the fact that I'll only listen to select cuts from it whenever the urge grips me to give it a spin. UNDEAD13+2 is a relic of its time, an age in visual kei where being a good indies clone of Dir en grey was acceptable and even encouraged, and it's what everyone and their mother flocked to Sadie to hear. Believe it or not, there was a time when I considered Mao to have better gutturals than Kyo! Sadie knew their market well, and part of their rise into prominence is because they played off fan expectations to deliver something familiar but new every time, and UNDEAD13+2 hits that sweet spot. For all of the material that Sadie would release after this point - and that's eight to nine years of singles, minis, and albums - nothing defines Sadie for me as well as UNDEAD13+2. Unlike all of their other albums, UNDEAD13+2 represents an entire era of the band's activities distilled into its best parts, and feels more complete and realized than any other album of theirs bar Master of Romance. by @Zeus Sugar SWEETEST Visual Kei bands have always dabbled around with jazz influences, but more often than not the results were a mess. Sugar was one of the few exceptions to that rule, forming their entire sound around this dark jazzy rock sound and actually pulling it off. The result of this melding of genres felt natural as opposed to forced. Loki's deep and nasally vocal tone oozes "VK", but seemly with a greater grasp of the control needed in order to provide a dynamic delivery than a lot of his peers in the scene at the time. SWEETEST was the first and only full length album the band would ever release - the band did not survive long past this album's release (disbanding in 2009) - which is a damn shame as their sound still feels fresh and unique today. by @Ito lloy 遮断 Yoooooo, big shout out to ghostorgan from livejournal (you know this is from back in the day if i'm mentioning LJ ). I'm not sure if that user is still around, but I'm like 99.9% sure I have that person to thank for putting me on to this band! Either way, lloy were a peculiar bunch. We all know that Goth is a prevalent element in Visual Kei, but bands that identify solely as Goth or that play strictly Goth music seem to be a rare commodity in the modern J-rock world (whether vk or not). So lloy being a female-fronted J-goth act automatiically made them stand out. It also helped that their music was actually good, too haha. 遮断 was a great album full of bass-driven goth-rock tunes, often with a dark, jazzy flair to them. Songs like "消えたサブリナ" and "吸血鬼" even reminded me a bit of British rockers QueenAdreena. This seems to be the only release of theirs that's widely available, but it's well worth checking out. lloy has a timeless sound, and one that's unique within the world of J-rock. by @CAT5 DEATHGAZE AWAKE-evoke the urge- Marking a pivotal change in direction for the band in 2008, AWAKE -evoke the urge- was the first album where Ai, who had recently left his position as bassist, now stood as the vocalist and leader of band. What was amazing about this album was that Ai managed to retain the same deep vocal sound from before (trust me this was mind-blowing at the time lol) but in a cleaner, and much more defined manner. The heavy and fast execution that was iconic to DEATHGAZE was also retained, while introducing slower melodies and softer arrangements for the first time to their repertoire, adding more weight and melancholy to the band's usage of the term "heavy". AWAKE -evoke the urge- was a magnificent release that 10 years ago allowed DEATHGAZE to come back from the brink of what we all thought was going to be a disbandment, while being able to go toe to toe with their long time rival band lynch for the next few years that followed. by @YuyoDrift Lillies and Remains Moralist S.S. Ten years ago, despite Japanese indie becoming increasingly less accessible to overseas fans at the time (many major forums were dying off, streaming wasn't really a thing yet, and music wasn't as widely available to purchase) - I was in a rather fortunate and unique position to have access to new J-indie on a weekly basis. As a result, I spent A LOT of time listening to new and obscure J-rock bands that year - many of which were average, forgettable, and never saw the light of day (both in Japan and in the overseas fandom). So when Lillies and Remains appeared amidst the mire of humdrum bands I was coming across - they stood out like a sore thumb. Their debut EP Moralist S.S. sounded like nothing else in the Japanese Indie scene at the time, and the only comparable band (their friends PLASTICZOOMS) wouldn't debut until a year later. Here you had a new, young band playing raw, energetic, and technically sound 80's new-wave/post-punk that could easily pass for material from a "Western" band (especially if you weren't listening close enough to discern Kent's rampant 'Engrish' ). But not only that - the quality, maturity, and polish of their songwriting far exceeded what you might expect from a band that just debuted - and it certainly stood meters above the stuff I was constantly running into. Needless to say, this EP instantly turned heads and made fans, as it was a big hit with the J-rock heads on communities like J-salad and Tainted World (which later became our beloved Monochrome Heaven). Lillies and Remains came is strong and they've been a consistent force to reckon with ever since! by @CAT5 新興宗教楽団NoGoD 夢幻教 There was a time long ago when the band now known as simply NoGoD was a unicorn of a different shade. Unlike many visual kei bands that start activities first and band activities second, 新興宗教楽団NoGoD practiced in secret for half a year before officially beginning activities. With such a strong start, powerful aesthetics and sound, and controversial anti-religion band concept, 新興宗教楽団NoGoD went from relatively unknown to indie powerhouses in only three years. I find their period from 2006 to 2009 to be their most creative, with 夢幻教 (Mugenkyou) acting as a powerful anchor for this era. It debuted at #6 on the Oricon indies chart upon release, cementing NoGoD as a rising force among their contemporaries. With its powerful melodies, varied compositions, air of mysticism, and undeniable inspiration, this album holds up even today. 夢幻教 is my favorite NoGoD album and always has been. Examining the NoGoD of today with the band as it was then leaves me dispirited, because there's an undeniable element and aura to this album that has been missing from their music since they went major. None of their other albums grab me like this one does. by @Zeus シンディケイト (噂の)アウトサイダー As far as oshare kei goes, cindykate had a certain authenticity which was unique. Uwasa no Outsider starts with a chaotic bang in the form of "bubbly kakumei" and ends with the surprisingly endearing "[ALICE]". People's first reaction to this album would usually go something like "woah, they suck. But they're actually good". Yuui's almost tone deaf vocals are charming and essential to cindykate's signature playful style. In a scene full of strawberries, bunnies and fairylands the group avoided cliches and kitsche, overdone ideas, instead focusing on more urban concepts such as tokyo night life and pop culture, always with a tongue in cheek, somewhat more adult approach. This album showcases some of the viral positivity and humor which they were known for. It may leave you confused, but it won't leave you bored. To those who may not know, this is your chance to hear the president of GOEMON RECORDS in action. by @platy RENTRER EN SOI MEGIDDO Ten years ago, RENTRER EN SOI was the golden child of the visual kei scene that had everything going for them until their untimely disbandment. Their slow and unpromising start sporting an ethereal take on a 90's sound in the 00's gave way to a promising career in the indies circuit after a few years, but the band ended up pulling a Dir en grey and taking their music in a heavier direction after the release of Sphire-Croid. This was a rough transformation that birthed an abomination of a second album we shall not speak about, but things would stabilize in a more promising direction by their third album THE BOTTOM OF CHAOS. Then, internal struggles tore this band apart and they released MEGIDDO as a parting gift. I remember that at the time this mini was considered perfect and many proclaimed that RENTRER EN SOI is a band that people would discuss even in 2018. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Time has not been kind to this band. Satsuki managed to stain his solo career and the reputation of this band with his many embarrassing scandals, Mika and Takumi took forever to resurface in a notable band (sukekiyo), and the others dropped out of music altogether. No fan after 2010 really listens to this band - and if they do they sure as hell aren't listening to Sphire-Croid - and with time the cracks in MEGIDDO show themselves. It's a solid listen if you can forgive Satsuki's weak ass growls and skip tracks 3 and 4. It's a perfect representation of this band's identity struggles, because half of it sounds like their old period and half of it sounds like the metal core sound they could never convincingly pull off, and its apparent which half I prefer. Given time, I'm sure they could have worked all the flaws out, but we will never see that happen. by @Zeus LITE Phantasia Along with toe, LITE had already been recognized as one of Japan's premier instrumental bands with the release of their 2006 album filmlets. But it was with their 2nd album Phantasia that the band truly solidified them as standard bearers for the scene. Up until this time, they'd been playing very tight, intricate, and engaging math-rock that was well above par, but on this album, the band took a bold leap forward by amping up the intensity with distorted chugs, ferocious drumming, and commanding, yet groovy bass-lines - while still incorporating those smooth, post-rockish elements that were prevalent in their previous releases. This album is a BEAST and ten years later, it remains, perhaps, LITE's best outing - if not their most raw, and unrelenting. A highlight in both the year 2008 and in the history of instrumental J-rock as well! by @CAT5 vistlip Revolver It's been 10 years since vistlip formed as a band and although I haven't been keeping up with anything they've done since 2010 or so, their debut mini-album Revolver remains as one of my favorites. Back then when VK was still fresh and appealing to me, I was always on the lookout for new bands to try. Then I came across the PV for "EDY" and was instantly hooked. Looking back at it now, the PV looked pretty cheap with chains hanging everywhere in one small dark room. But hell, that was what made me love VK and I was so hooked that I practically made gifs of the whole video. (If you remember all those icon gifs from LJ that was me....). But enough of the PV. Revolver was a solid first release by the young vistlip and not a single track fell short. You've got the robust and aggressive track "EDY", the slower track about longing "BLACK-TAIL", the energetic and zealous track "the surface", the wintery ballad "Moon Light Snow Rabbits", and the band's sentimental theme song "July VIIIth" of which I prefer this version more than the rebirth version. Revolver gave me such a strong impression that no matter what other album I listen to by vistlip, I seem to want to go back to it instantly. by @plastic_rainbow ∀NTI FEMINISM 狂葬録 狂葬録 (Kyousouroku) is a badass album that took quite a few years for me to unpack. I didn't get it at first because I had no proper appreciation for punk, and I have this band to thank for really opening my eyes. ∀NTI FEMINISM is absolutely mental and one of the few bands deserving of the legendary moniker. There's only one official member, that being vocalist Kenzi of THE DEAD POP STARS, but since 1991 over 100 musicians have played as support members. That's a lot of punk, and that's exactly why 狂葬録 is such a dense experience. Sitting at 27 tracks with a run time of almost one hour, it has almost all of the cuts ∀NTI FEMINISM put out since 2001, featuring a few re-recordings, a few rare tracks, and two new tracks. Considering how ∀NTI FEMINISM do releases - which is infrequently at best, featuring anywhere between two and six tracks that were probably no longer than 140 seconds a piece - this is the closest to a proper album that we are ever going to get. This also marks a turning point in this band's trajectory, because after this release Kenzi would take this band into a heavier direction. After so many years, the best way for me to enjoy this album is to start just about anywhere and ride the punk wave to the end, because even ten years later this album still bangs hard. I still recommend this album to anyone looking for hardcore punk, an injection of musical adrenaline, or an idea of what the fringes of visual kei sound like. by @Zeus 嘘つきバービー 問題のセカンド Before 88Kasyo Junrei, there was Usotsuki Barbie....is what I want to say, but that wouldn't be technically correct. 88Kasyo were actually active in 2008, but their music didn't reach overseas ears until around 2010. So for us international J-rock fans, Usotsuki Barbie served as a bit of a spiritual precursor to them. They'd released 2 mini albums prior, but most of us got our first introduction to the band via their first full album Mondai no Second. These guys instantly won us over with their zany rock&roll fraught with weird, angular psychedelic riffs, spazztastic instrumentation, and quirky vocals. Their sound touted the perfect mix of crazy and catchy, but it was undoubtedly polarizing. To this day, Mondai no Second is an album you'll either love or hate. by @CAT5 Sel'm brilliant force Sel’m were well within their early indie years in 2008 with vocalist Tora still within their lineup of members. The band’s music style was well known to be more hardcore and aggressive during this time, and their first full album Brilliant Force allowed them to finally gain an identity within the Visual Kei scene. Due in part to the zest that existed during this time, the band could experiment with smoother and more melodic songwriting, while retaining that vigor and intensity that vocalist Tora had been known to convey when singing. As an early fan I think they were still in the zone when they released this album, and whether you know about their years together as a band that followed, Brilliant Force was well received by fans and helped change the musical direction for them. by @YuyoDrift MUCC 志恩 A common theme among a lot of visual kei bands that last long enough is that they have distinct eras that do not resemble each other in many ways, and that the first transition is usually a painful one. 志恩 (Shion) does not chronicle MUCC's redemption arc - that would be the previous album 極彩 (Gokusai) - but the pressures of what comes after. 志恩 sees MUCC experimenting with Indian and tribal themes, an uncommon but not unfamiliar trope at the time, and it resulted in some good tunes like "志恩" (Shion) and "梟の揺り篭" (Fukurou no Yurikago). This is also where I first heard of MUCC and worked my way backwards. I also happen to not find it very accessible, and it's not the best place to begin exploring MUCC, but it's not the worst either. It's tribal motif is betrayed by its inconsistent application and a few tracks could have been cut to slim the package. As later albums have eclipsed it and MUCC has moved their sound into a new dimension, 志恩 has become a touch point of its own in MUCC's discography: a familiar album that people speak fondly of, but don't speak of often. by @Zeus SPIRAL CHORD サ・ヨ・ナ・ラ・セ・カ・イ Consisting of Gendo Takebayashi from COWPERS on vocals/guitar, HERA from 200MPH on drums, and Kentaro Nakao from NUMBER GIRL on bass, SPIRAL CHORD were somewhat of a J-Indie supergroup. They only released 2 albums, playing a raucous hybrid of garage-rock, punk, and post-hardcore. SAYANARA SEKAI was the second of those two albums, and while the first was altogether rough and characterless - on here, the band seemed to be settling into their groove. Their songwriting had GREATLY improved, as they added more melody and soul - actually crafting songs that stuck with you. It's unfortunate that these guys did not go on to further hone their sound - as Gendo is now in a band called zArAme, and Nakao went on to form Crypt City - but they left behind a kick-ass memorial. Not to mention, the PV for "Disitance to Substance" is one of the most iconic J-rock PVs ever! Check it out below! by @CAT5 THE NOVEMBERS picnic With an impressive self-titled EP the year prior, it was no surprise that a band with a name like THE NOVEMBERS could follow up with an even more impressive album. Practically timeless, picnic held an atmosphere in every track that grew wider and deeper as you listened, almost as if you became a part of it. My opinion on the album has not changed from years ago, and if anything picnic has aged VERY well for what it was. by @YuyoDrift MIYAVI This Iz The Japanese Kabuki Rock Forever the black sheep of Miyavi's discography, This Iz The Japanese Kabuki Rock marks an interesting turning point in Miyavi's career. Based on his activities since this was both a very influential and personal point in his career. I sense faint hints of this style in his more recent works, and I remember reading a translator note about how disappointed he was in the sales of this album. He expected a much bigger, more positive response. Takamasa, if you are reading this, I want you to know that ten years ago I was an idiot and I wasn't riding the same wave you were. Nobody was. At that time, I wanted more of what he was doing between 2003 and 2005 without realizing that what he was making was infinitely more creative. International fans didn't know what the Neo Visualizm theme really was and probably still don't. A small but vocal minority was getting tired of the Kavki Boiz in general, and that sentiment buzzing around didn't help any. When I examine this album ten years later without any of that associated baggage, I hear some of the most creative music penned under the visual kei flag ever. Nothing like this came before it and nothing has come after. The album is deceptively deep and varied, effortlessly bouncing between rock, pop, electronic, hip hop, and visual kei. I find that now I like this more than some of his recent work because the creativity feels authentic and unrestrained. And, in an ultimately cruel bit of irony, I wouldn't mind if he returned to this style for a song or two. by @Zeus FOX LOCO PHANTOM CHAOTIC MONSTER I actually can't recall if I heard FOX LOCO PHANTOM's first album before or after CHAOTIC MONSTER (their second album). Whatever the case, I do know that I heard this one around the time it was released, and it left a distinct impression on me. Particularly because this band seemed to fit in a grey area within the J-rock fandom. They were like Psysalia psysalis psyche, and Lillies and Remains in that they seemed to appeal equally to both VK and J-indie fans alike (who at the time were diametrically opposed for the most part ). The vocalist even has a shaky, vibrato-ridden voice that somewhat reminds me of Gara from MERRY lol (tho his overall cadence is different). But besides their multi-fandom appeal, FOX LOCO PHANTOM just has this highly energetic and danceable rock style that's insanely infectious. CHAOTIC MONSTER does a fantastic job of encapsulating all of that youthful vigor, and it still rocks to this very day! by @CAT5 Viored (バイオレット) 最終音源集 Their names may have faded into dust with time, but I'm one of the few who still remember Viored was a thing in 2008. Definitely deserving of the underrated moniker, their strong guitar sound, melodies, and frequent release schedule put them on the radar for the two years that they were active. Unfortunately, they were checked by fate just as they began their ascent because the vocalist was convinced by his girlfriend to leave the band and run away. Releasing a compilation album and disbanding was all the remaining members of the band could do. 最終音源集 is still good in 2018, but their sparse discography meant some lesser tracks had to be included to fill up the disc, so some tracks are in a league of their own and others are merely serviceable. Viored is a solid band to sample if you are into visual kei anthropology, but looking back I'm not surprised that no one is talking about this band. by @Zeus 雅だよ雅 self-titled I was blessed to discover this duo about a year after 2008 via THE J-INDIE KING HIMSELF - Steven Tanaka (organizer of the NEXT MUSIC FROM TOKYO Tour). As someone who flew to Japan six to seven times a year simply to indulge in the scene, Steve was consistently discovering fresh and new acts that we international fans had no idea existed. I give him all credit for truly opening up and deepening my perspective of the J-indie scene. Masodayomasa were one of the many bands he put me on to, AND MAN!!!! Do NOT let their looks fool you! These two unassuming women were an absolute POWERHOUSE! Their self-titled album took me by complete surprise. It's literally just one girl on guitar and the other on drums with both sharing vocal duties, yet their sound is compelling and full. I mean, simply calling these two "girl rock" - wouldn't do them justice, as they play as loud and ferociously as the best of them. This album is a relatively short collection of noisy garage-rock, but their songwriting is varied and creative enough that they cover a enough ground to make it a truly satisfying experience. by @CAT5 8-eit Glamorous 8-eit is one of my favorite visual kei bands of all time, and I wish things turned out better for them. 8-eit was (and I guess still is) a jazz fusion visual kei band unlike any other, but a lengthy hiatus at the apex of their career killed any steam this band had. They exist but they don't have the presence they did before, and several members of the band have been replaced. The scene has also forgotten them, and their sound has also changed to a more guitar oriented one, so I'm not sure if 8-eit still consider themselves visual kei or not. 8-eit as it is today is not the same band as it was on GLAMOROUS, as the album captures an image of 8-eit recently after they acquired keyboardist Hiroshi Matsubara, who I will credit for adding much texture and melody to their jazz with his piano skills. Those piano melodies, along with the pumping bass, are the vital components that transport the listener into a smoky lounge in a different time. This album is often overlooked in favor of their second album swingy swindle, which I will admit is literal perfection, but GLAMOROUS is what jump started their band activities and is worth checking out too. by @Zeus LOTUS GUITAR second tide Oh man... here's one TRAGICALLY overlooked album by a TRAGICALLY overlooked duo! I'm not entirely sure why - but this one managed to slip through the cracks. LOTUS GUITAR consisted of solo artist Ash, and clammbon's drummer Daisuke Ito - but even being linked to such a prominent band, this release still managed to fly under many a radar. It's all good, though - despite the obscure nature of the release, this is an absolute gem! The scope of this record is actually pretty expansive - spanning a variety of sounds and genres from straightforward rock, indie, jazz, post-rock, folk, and even to psychedelia - but it's all done very organically. Nothing here seems forced and the diversity simply comes off as second nature to these guys. As a result, this album has a sort of humble grandeur to it. I also love that these guys did not restrain themselves or try to adhere to strict song structures because they spend plenty of time jamming the hell out on this album, and it's awesome! second tide is a fantastic collection of straightforward, non-gimmicky J-rock songs from two seasoned musicians playing straight from the heart! by @CAT5 UNLIMITS 夢幻シンドローム Back in 2008, UNLIMITS' female fronted vaguely skate punk influenced rock felt fresh to me. Coming back to Mugen Syndrome a decade later and the music feels a little more stale than I remembered. This album is a little rough around the edges, and while the mediocre production helps some with a punk image, it just ends up feeling a bit unpolished. That isn't to say that this album is bad but instead speaks more to how inflated my memory of this album is. While the energy of the vocals call feel a little dull at time, overall this album has a lot of energy and is packed with memorable tunes. Part of why this album stands out so much in my memory is that Mugen Sydrome marks the last full album before the band slowly devolved in to mediocrity as the band felt like they were aiming more of mass appeal. Compared to their later offerings, Mugen Syndrome is a clear highlight in my mind by @Ito me-al art Exist 2008 was around the time that I started exploring music outside of visual kei, and @CAT5 was responsible for introducing me to me-al art, a post-rock band with a powerful female vocalist and some banging melodies. I was immediately hooked and felt that this indie band had all the tools they need to become bigger, but I was disappointed to find out that they didn't have a huge following and didn't release music frequently. me-al art disbanded in 2016 after the release of their fourth album NEW WORLD, but that never got the claim or attention that Exist did. I don't even think I've listened to it in full yet. Many fans consider Exist to be the band's most solid effort and containing some of their most memorable songs, such as "term", "exist", and "target". This band actually contains a lot of the trappings of 2008, but in a good way, and Exist is a great way to experience new vestiges of the late-00's rock sound. by @Zeus machine BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDER Machine always felt like a band that never managed to get any attention. For a band consisting of visual kei legend Hakuei of Penicillin and Kiyoshi of hide with Spread Beaver, you would have thought that band would be on more people's radar. Yet even though BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDER was their fifth album, the band didn't receive a ton of attention. Their specific flavor of VK with its strong industrial and electronic elements with upbeat vibe created this interesting sci-fi feeling rock which was truly unique in the scene. That said, BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDER perhaps was where the band took the lightest approach to these elements, with the vocals feeling a little cleaner and less robotic and metallic than they had in previous releases, and the electronic elements pulled back a bit. That isn't to say that they were removed, as the album still has a distinct sci-fi sound. To this day the sound Machine put out was very much their own and I haven't really heard it replicated, at least not in the visual kei scene. While their music is hardly for everyone (hell, I think Hakuei's voice takes some time to get use to by itself), BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDERS is certainly worth going back to and listening...though personally I might pick a different Machine album to listen to first. by @Ito Demetori 闡提宗祀 ~ Offering to The Sukhavati For as much as we lament "the death of visual kei", it was the doujin scene that withered up and died. For those not in the know, doujin music is a moniker for any band (called circles, don't ask) who covers video game themes in their own style. The themes could be from any game, but the most popular one was Project Shrine Maiden, an isometric bullet hell shooter known for it's cute anime characters and devilishly hard game play. The doujin scene died off because of several reasons; the low cost to investment meant there was a lot of uninteresting music to wade through at each convention (and there are several a year), most circles focused only on Project Shrine Maiden and had no inspirations beyond that, some circles just disappeared, and many of the more successful circles left the scene to make original music and no new acts could fill the void. One of the only constants in the last ten years has been Demetori, who have never strayed from covering Project Shrine Maiden themes and constantly find a new way to iterate on the same themes by making these jingles into their own. 2008's 闡提宗祀 ~ offering to the sukhavati was the next step on their transformation from a classic rock band into an extreme metal band, and they have only grown more complex and ambitious with time. Demetori's melodic power metal sound is so defined and clean, it sounds good even today. Offering to the sukhavati does not sound ten years old, but yet it is. by @Zeus Praha Depart Check! Yet another band introduced to me via the great Steven Tanaka! Praha Depart, despite their unique sound and having toured both Europe and North America, is a band that has gone largely overlooked by the overseas J-rock fandom. Granted, their music isn't for everyone, and this EP makes that fact abundantly clear. On Check!, Praha Depart plays an intriguing style of avant-garde kraut-rock, which some have described as "gypsy-punk". Whatever you want to call it, they're definitely in a lane of their own. Their vocalist/bassist is absolutely schizophrenic, and equally prone to girly squeaks and squeals, weird mumbles and grumbles, manic screaming, and powerful wails. Something like a cross between Jun Togawa and Kyo from DIR EN GREY, ahaha (minus the pig squeals and gutturals) Musically, Praha's songs are fraught with intoxicating riffs and rhythmical drumming that subtly escalate into explosions of raw intensity, and it's just wonderful. Check! only consists of 5 songs, but it's worth every minute! by @CAT5 .... What did you think of our list? What are your favorite J-rock releases from 2008!?!? What was 2008 like for you musically? Comment and let's discuss!
  11. 21 points
    One of the small joys of being a VK fan is the unique phenomenon of enjoying a band while having absolutely no idea how to say their name. And I don’t mean because a band’s name is in Japanese, I’m talking those band names that are ostensibly written in English but because of weird characters or punctuation you just have no idea how to properly pronounce or verbalize their moniker correctly (although most of the time the pronunciation just completely ignores the extraneous symbols). Let’s try and trace the history of these unnecessary symbols and letters in VK bands’ names and highlight the influence (or lack thereof) of these punctuation provocateurs. D’erlanger The band: One of the proto-visual kei bands that began in the ‘80s and had an outsize influence on the first generation of post-X visual bands. The name: D’erlanger kinda makes sense as a French word, so they themselves are forgiven, but it is apparent a lot of teenagers in the 80s who would go on to become players in the golden age of visual kei saw that apostrophe and thought “oh cool!” for entirely unintended reasons. I said D’erlanger makes sense as a French word… but it’s not a very ‘band name’ kind of word. Can’t imagine throwing up the metal horns to a band called ‘from Erlangen’. See also: L’Arc~en~Ciel, La’Cryma Cristi, La’Mule L’Arc~en~Ciel The band: No introduction necessary really. Almost certainly on the Mount Rushmore of VK bands, whether or not you like what they’ve done since the start of the new millennium (and I don’t). Pretty and melodious songs with just enough edge to appeal to a wide swath of fans. Not to mention a sexy frontman. The name: Another word that makes sense if you’re French, but L’Arc~en~Ciel up the ante by adding some tildes for no reason other than young Tetsuya and Hyde probably thought they added an even more magical feeling to the word ‘rainbow’. L’Arc~en~Ciel’s (making their name possessive *does* add a certain balance to the word…) popularity in both VK circles and a mainstream audience meant that adding dumb punctuation in the middle of your name for no reason was now completely tolerated. Tetsuya has specifically denied he got the L’Arc~en~Ciel moniker from a cafe near where he worked as a teenager with the same name. It may have also been stolen from the D.H. Lawrence book ‘Rainbow’, but even that story is tainted because it includes the *movie* version. See also: a million song and album titles with tildes in them, E’m ~grief~ cali≠gari The band: Either groundbreaking, experimental rock that revolutionized and kick-started the ‘eroguro kei’ genre, or dissonant-sounding weirdos; depending on your tastes. The name: Obviously lifted from the groundbreaking German silent horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”; an admittedly cool source of inspiration for an art-y VK band. The name even has a cool rhyme and visual symmetry when written/pronounced in Japanese (カリガリ). See also: a ton of also-ran bands that have stuck unnecessary equals signs in their names: Loz'a≠Veria, D≒sire, Kar+te=zyAnose, Eyes≒Mirrorge, PARANOID≠CIRCUS ZI:KILL The band: Early VK rockers that burned out too quickly to be mentioned among the all-timers. The name: Originally formed as G:KILL, which doesn’t shed any light onto the inspiration for the name, but is an interesting fact. G/Zi:Kill both *kinda* sound like Jekyll when katakan-ized, and Visual Kei has no lack of love for that story. You may be noticing a trend so far; early VK bands apparently hated having blank spaces in their names. See also: La:Sadie’s, ru:natic,【_Vani;lla】, ha;qch, DAS:VASSER, L'yse:nore Aliene Maφriage The band: One of the harbingers of VK starting to get really dark and almost certainly offending the middle-aged parents of the teenagers listening to it. Lots of leather and hair... and in Aliene’s case; some good songwriting to back it up. The name: In the book Freakonomics the authors cite a study that shows, all other things being equal, people are more likely to be asked to interview for jobs if the interviewer/hiring manager can pronounce their name. I have to believe this is why even Kyoka & Co. started writing their name simply Aliene Ma’riage eventually; they were probably tired of having to pitch things to record label execs who looked at their name and thought “pass” before they even heard the banshee wails. I couldn’t find anything about the origins of their name. It is a vast improvement over their original moniker Autism though. See also: √eight, ∋elf gravity∈, ZETSURIN⚡HAGUKI Kagrra, The band: The undisputed kings of beautiful neo-japonisme in VK. The name: Even Kagrra,, who peddled a very classic Japanese aesthetic, weren’t immune to an unnecessary flourish such as a comma at the end of their name which, when spoken, led to a kind of hesitant mumble as if you were supposed to continue a train of thought which was still at the station. I mean, revisit that previous sentence I wrote, should it really have been written “Even Kagrra,,”? Kagrra,’s name certainly gave the editing staff at Shoxx a headache. Kagrra,, originally called Crow, took their name from 神楽 (Kagura), a Shinto music and dance tradition. See also: Thankfully the comma didn’t catch on much. +DéspairsRay+ The band: One of the rare examples of a band who can pull off unabashed zetsubou unironically and follow it up with soaring choruses and catchy melodies without sounding disjointed. The name: Another band that dropped some of the more superfluous parts of their name as soon as they started to gain some popularity. If I had to guess, their name is probably one of the most mistagged in VK. I know for sure if I opened iTunes right now I’d have songs by +DéspairsRay+, DéspairsRay, D’espairs Ray, Despairs Ray and probably more in my artist lineup. The members of the band haven’t commented specifically on how they chose the name, with Zero even saying “It's nothing special.” I interpret this as ‘we know it’s dumb, don’t ask about it please’. See also: VAL+IX+LIA, MARRY+AN+BLOOD, Ti+Dee Nuvc:gu The band: Nobodies. The name: I honestly was pronouncing this “nuv-ka-goo” until I heard @Biopanda say “New vogue” in a Rarezhut stream and the lightbulb went off. I almost want to give them credit for using the *shape* of punctuation to emulate letters, but then I realize that’s incredibly stupid unless you’re working with some seriously custom fonts. See also: VΩID, k@mikaze, SHAD∞W, XOVER Exist†trace The band: Probably the most successful all-girl-kei band ever (which unfortunately isn’t saying much). Started out very gothy and have gradually transitioned to a more mainstream sound. They let the pretty one sing and it makes me sad because Jyou has come up with some flat out beautiful, haunting vocal melodies. The name: Miko said in an interview that, And let’s be honest, that explanation makes no sense. It sounds cool though, and really that’s what you need in a band name (and something unique that can be Googled). My biggest problem with their cross symbol is that it probably shows up as a question mark or some other placeholder punctuation 20% of the time because who the hell has the time to look up the unicode symbols? (although I’m sure people who write about Witch-house bands have the code for the cross symbol memorized.) See also: Serpentine†Ghost, Jail†Breaker, Vice†risk xTripx The band: A surprisingly endearing mix of oshare kei and numetal. The name: Weirdly, I always pronounce the first ‘x’ in xTripx’s name but not the last one (ecks-trip). I actually think more bands need to come to terms with the fact that eventually the world will run out of new band names and everyone will have to resort to having a moniker that looks like a circa-2002 emo fan’s AIM screenname. See also: xジハードx, 【TRiANGLE▼SONiX】, Noi’X 12012 The band: Undercode stalwarts that started out lo-fi and disjointed and nu-metal influenced but very charming, and graduated to poppier fare when they decided to take a stab at becoming famous. The name: ‘Ichi ni zero ichi ni’ if you’re Japanese, ‘twelve-o’-twelve’ if you’re me. Allegedly named after a section of the California penal code that deals with illegal weapons… and that actually kind of tracks. It’s an extremely boring section though (besides we know Wataru prefers hand-to-hand combat): Not a cool law for a band name. I think we’ve got a retconned term a la 420 and 311. See also: Plenty of other band names that need a pronunciation guide: 0801弐209XX6* (zero hachi), …。(silence), 6→7 (upper) *The guitarist of zero hachi should get an unnecessary punctuation in band names lifetime achievement award. He was in all these bands according to vkdb: †Zaide†, Diod'honneur, カレヰド, re:Make, 0801弐209XX6. Be sure to add your favorite band name with unnecessary punctuation!
  12. 20 points
    In celebration of Monochrome-Heaven's 10th Anniversary, we've decided to hop in our musical time machine and take a look at some of the important, classic, and downright pivotal J-rock albums of 2007! Below you'll find albums that left a significant impression on us as fledgeling J-rock fans and albums that impacted the fandom at large. So let's put on our nostalgia-goggles and take a look, shall we!!?? 9mm Parabellum Bullet Termination Alongside the likes of ling tosite sigure, these guys were one of the most hyped bands amongst the J-indie fandom at the time - and with great reason. On this album, 9mm crafted the perfect blend of explosive indie rock with elements of punk, hardcore, and metal - creating a sound so dynamic and fresh that even their naysayers couldn't deny it! TERMINATION was only their first full-length album, but it's responsible for inspiring an entire generation of successive bands with an influence that's still palpable to this day. Sadly, 9mm descended into utter mediocrity after this release, but this remains one of the few albums that I'd consider flawless, and it's widely regarded as a classic by fans. -@CAT5 girugamesh girugämesh Few albums I have listened to in their entirety as much as girugamesh’s 2007 eponymous release. The 45-minute epic strips the soul bare - from the dynamic opener “Patchwork” to the heart wrenching “Kowarete Iku Sekai”, girugämesh brought out an unmatched explosion of creativeness from a group of friends that, despite barely breaking into their 20s, had given their all into music. It is a quality seldom heard in VK today as they channelled all of their aggression, elation, desperation, pain and longing, relishing the listener in girugamesh’s world of raw emotion where each song held meaning and every individual tune stuck to memory. This is certainly one of the albums that not only epitomized 2007, but defined girugamesh for me. For many of us, bands like girugamesh catered to our angst-ridden adolescence, as we threw away our childish inclinations while gravitating toward the darker side of VK. And it was partially thanks to this album that gave me the faith to continue following them throughout their tumultuous latter years and see their career to their end, finally gaining closure with their swansong “period” that took them back to their formative roots. -@helcchi bis Believe in Style If girugamesh represented the transition into the dark side of visual kei to the generation that were growing up in the 00s, bis held tight to that childhood naïveté as they remained frozen in time, echoing sounds of a bygone era of oshare kei. An ode to eternal youth, Believe in Style is an endearing Summer album that embodied all the stupid things we did when we were young and all the fun we had - free of consequences and responsibilities, as well as the bitterness we held towards growing up. “Start”, “DAYS” and “SEASONS” were the quintessential high school anthems that perhaps started many people's venture into j-rock, brimming with youthful energy, catchy tunes and an attitude ready to conquer the world. It certainly seemed that success would come easy with the bright-eyed popular young band shooting their way to the top of the indies charts, yet bis’ world was painted through rose-colored glasses. And like many young bands trying to gain their footing in an adult world, the fun was short-lived and they disbanded way too early. Believe in Style would be their first and only full-length album, however not before leaving us with heartwarming memories. -@helcchi D'espairsRay MIRROR Perhaps the only album I personally covered that sounds just as good today as it did ten years ago, MIRROR is one of the defining visual kei albums of the '00s. Every time I think of the mysterious cover, the riff to "Trickster" starts playing in my mind and Hizumi's crooning is like a harpoon that gets stuck in your head and can't be removed. It's funny to imagine how divisive this album was when it came out because it sounded nothing like [Coll:set], but in retrospect I might consider it the most approachable D'espairsRay album that still maintains the darkness I love them for. There's also bittersweet sentimentality talking, as this is the release which marks the point of no return for many fans. -@Zeus Eksperimentoj Eksperimentoj Having garnered a good amount of clout from the highly regarded band Dhal (a side-project formed by Aoki Robin of downy), vocalist Eugene Wakamikoto's first album with his own band Eksperimentoj was certainly a release of great interest back in 2007. In a lot of ways, Eksperimentoj sounded something like a spiritual successor to downy (who were on hiatus at the time and would remain as such for another 6 years). Eugene wrote and sung the album entirely in English, yet he sounded almost identical to Aoki Robin, and musically, the band played a gloomy, atmospheric style of post-rock that was aesthetically in line with downy as well. Though in spite of the similarities, Eksperimentoj still occupied a space of their own. Unfortunately, this was the only album they ever released, yet it's singular to this very day. -@CAT5 HIZAKI grace project Dignity of crest Released on New Year's Day of 2007, HIZAKI grace project's first album was significant for me as it ushered in the second wind of my VK fandom, which is still kickin' today. I was delighted to see an old face, Juka (ex-Moi dix Mois), combined with some great neoclassical guitarwork and subtle tinges of MALICE MIZER (dat harpsichord in "Philosopher") that brought me back to when I first learned of VK in 2002. Virtuoso guitarists HIZAKI and Teru went on to form Versailles and Jupiter, but I still come back to Dignity to crest fairly often, as it showcases some of their best riffing. -@fitear1590 Ling tosite sigure Inspiration is DEAD Ling tosite sigure (who were still being referred to as 'rin toshite shigure' by western fans at the time), had to be the most exciting band in Japanese indie at the time. Here you had a demure indie rock trio playing music with the technical prowess and ferocity of a death metal band, and their creativity seemed to know no bounds. Even if you found the vocals grating or annoying, you couldn't deny the Ling's ingenuity. Hell, before I grew to appreciate them, I found myself simply captivated by all of TK's insane riffage alone. Coming from a band so talented, and so obviously inspired, Inspiration is DEAD seemed like a statement - a dig against all of the bands who were content to tread the status quo instead of breaking new ground. And that's exactly what Ling did with this album, as they continued to do for years to come. Inspiration is DEAD remains a fan-favorite to this day, and as the band's final indie release, it's one of the most raw and unkempt records they've put out - a far cry from the polished, formulaic, and generally diluted music they've been producing lately. -@CAT5 LOSTAGE DRAMA Just a year after LOSTAGE dropped the classic PLAY WITH ISOLATION, they returned again with this spectacular release. DRAMA took all of the emo-tinged indie rock of the previous album, but accentuated it with hard rock elements which resulted in a fresh and powerful new sound for the band. In fact, you could argue that this is the album that set the tone for the rest of the their career, as the style they crafted here is one that they've continued to hone throughout every album since. Truly a highlight in LOSTAGE's discography and the year 2007 alike. -@CAT5 MERRY M.E.R.R.Y. After ten years, M.E.R.R.Y. still remains as one of MERRY's most memorable albums due to the band's versatile sound, which consisted of distorted punk rock with jazzy elements, groovy melodies, and some tender ballads. The singles included are "Blind Romance", "Saihate no Parade (最果てのパレード)", and the tender "Komorebi ga Boku o Sagashi Teru (木洩れ日が僕を探してる・・・)", which all remain as fan-favorite tracks today. In fact, 2007 was around the time of MERRY's prime, as the band had already been signed with major label Victor Entertainment for 2 years, and they had already performed overseas for the first time a few months prior to the album's release. Personally, the album has some of my favorite MERRY tracks ever, including "Utagoe Kissa 『MODERN』 (歌声喫茶『モダン』)", the catchy and melodic "Hirahira Tonderu. (ひらひらとんでる。)" (whose PV was directed by FULL of GUNIW TOOLS), and dat sweet bass solo at the start of "Coq d'or mama (コックドール・ママ)". -@suji nayuta solar ribbon・solar children Never heard of this band? No worries - most people hadn't heard of this band ten years ago either! In fact, nayuta is so obscure that only some of the most hardcore J-indie enthusiasts that I know have come across them, as this album wasn't released widely and almost no information can be found on it today. Still, despite their stature, nayuta has to be one of the best kept secrets of the J-indie scene, and this album is one of the best that you've never heard. On Myspace (yes, Myspace was still a thing in 07), they used to describe themselves as 'Underground hardcore parade music', and while that's actually pretty apt in a weird way, it doesn't do them justice. There's a definitely a hardcore element to their music, which is further emphasized by the rough and noisy production quality, but the band makes creative use of melody while maintaining the beauty of it. Add in some sublime male/female vocals and you have a sound that's as chaotic as it is charming. solar ribbon・solar children may be a hidden gem, but it's well worth excavating to wrap your ears around. -@CAT5 OGRE YOU ASSHOLE AlphaBeta vs. Lambda If bands like Ling tosite sigure and 9mm Parabellum Bullet were dominating the aggressive side of Japanese indie in 2007, then on the opposite end of the spectrum, OGRE YOU ASSHOLE were the kings of slacker rock. The band already an album and a mini-album under their belts at the time, but Alpha Beta vs. Lambda truly solidified them as an indie rock force to be reckoned with. Characterized by laid-back grooves, smooth vocals, colorful riffs, and tight instrumentation, OYA carved out a delightful sound on this album that many younger bands like mitsume and siamese cats have aimed at, yet have never quite been able to hit. Hell, even the band themselves have never been able to live up to the sound they established here - and they've released eight albums since! -@CAT5 Plastic Tree Nega to Poji 2007 marked the 10th anniversary since Plastic Tree's major debut, and to pay all their efforts for making it that far, they decided to release the groundbreaking and jaw dropping album that is Nega to Poji. It was a major turning point for Plastic Tree, throwing away the old and bringing out new ideas. Nega to Poji as a whole laid out such a unique charm that if you listened to one song out of the album context you'd instantly recognize the Nega to Poji sound; the dreaminess, the grungy guitars, and Ryutaro's less childish to mesmerizing vocals. Honestly, there really is no bad track on the album as they all give it a perfect balance, except for old, but newer versions of tracks like "Spica", "Makka na Ito", and "hate red, dip it", that might feel like extras to some. I do admit however, that the new "hate red, dip it (loudest sound version)" flows well with the rest of the album. You've got the dreamy "Nemureru Mori" as a tranquil start, the pumping "Fujunbutsu" and "Elegy" to amp up the noise and energy, the heavy "Sabbath", which is possibly their heaviest track other than "Ghost", some impressive drumming in the melancholic "Kuroi Kasa", and the beautiful and heartbreaking "Andro Metamorphose" that received huge debate for copying Mew's song "Comforting Sounds", yet is still loved by most, if not all pura fans. I remember playing this album on heavy rotation the day it released. It was one of the best things I heard at the time and is still an absolute favorite of mine, which I'm sure many fans can agree with as well. Hell, there's even a whole studio version of the album on DVD from the limited edition. -@plastic_rainbow RENTRER EN SOI The bottom of chaos It's not the album that springs to mind when I think of classics, but THE BOTTOM OF CHAOS is the album I think of when I think of Rentrer en Soi. The sound of a band successfully reinventing themselves to fit the hype sound of the time while still retaining their defining features and simultaneously progressing is as difficult to pull off as it is to describe, but for the most part THE BOTTOM OF CHAOS does this successfully. The album hasn't aged as well as I would have hoped - the production sounds thin, the growls are weak, and the best moments are segments of tracks spread over the whole affair rather than one or two solid songs - but when the entire package is this consistent it's still fun for a spin. Give this one a try if you want to know what fans a decade ago thought the tops in heavy music was. -@Zeus school food punishment air feel, color swim school food punishment debuted with their first mini-album school food is good food back in the spring of 2007, instantly turning heads as one of the new, promising indie bands on the block. Some people were even quick to compare them to Spangle call Lilli line - one of the most prominent female-fronted indie bands of the time. However, It wasn't until later that year with the release of this album that sfp really began to come into their own. The groovy, upbeat power-pop of the tracks like "you may crawl" and "art line" were basically the prototypes for what would become sfp's signature sound later on in their major label years. While the moody and dramatic "loop, share" was like a precursor to the band's 3rd mini-album Riff-rain, which came to be widely regarded as their best work when it dropped the next year. Still air feel, color swim is an important release that marks the development of a band that later grew to become iconic in their own right. -@CAT5 Shiina Ringo Heisei Fuzoku Shiina Ringo is a legendary figure in Japanese music, hands down. With her gigantic and diverse discography, it can be quite overwhelming to start digging in. While I started with her most famous albums 勝訴ストリップ (Shouso Strip) and 加爾基 精液 栗ノ花 (Kalk Semen Chestnut Flower), I wasn't officially 'sold' on her until heisei fuuzoku. The album, which was arranged with the help of Neko Saito and served as a film OST, is a collection of self-covers and new tracks (like "Gamble"), all with a sumptuous orchestral/jazz/big band sound. The reinterpretation of "茎 (kuki)" as a sultry jazz number is particularly unreal. For anyone not quite ready for Shiina's pop-rock or more experimental side, heisei fuuzoku is another great entry point to her oeuvre. -@fitear1590 the GazettE STACKED RUBBISH 2007 might have been the last year I was flat-out head-over-heels in love with visual kei. Great albums and band debuts were happening left and right, its popularity was growing, bands were touring internationally, and people were still allowed to post fan-made content on YouTube (or am I the only one missing hilarious fanvids?). One of my most played albums that year, and probably my most played GazettE album ever, was STACKED RUBBISH. Not only did the singles leading up to the album kick ass, but just about every B-side from them was just as good in their own right, and it's no surprise some ended up making it to the final cut. The album enveloped the singles perfectly too, with just the right amount of variety between upbeat clap-alongs like "ガンジスに紅い薔薇(ganges ni akai bara)" and "SWALLOWTAIL ON THE DEATH VALLEY" and GazettE's classic, bitter aggression in tracks like "BURIAL APPLICANT", "MOB 136 BARS" and "CIRCLE OF SWINDLER". A light sprinkling of Ruki's new-found 'hip hop' influence also gave the album a dose of intrigue, as it opened with the questionably titled and unintentionally hilarious "ART DRAWN BY VOMIT" as well as the unforgettable did-he-really-just-say-fuckboy? engrish in "AGONY". Whether it's for a good laugh or a good headbang, STACKED RUBBISH's epic-ness needs to live on forever in VK infamy. Yes I did probably link the entire album, fight me. -@doombox Tokyo Jihen Variety Let's take a trip back to the past when Tokyo Jihen was saving jazz and Shiina Ringo was still relevant. Believe it or not, Tokyo Jihen's third full-length 娯楽(バラエティ), pronounced Goraku, turns ten this year! Feel old yet? I would consider 娯楽 to be the black sheep of their discography, mostly due to everyone but Ringo composing music for this release. 娯楽 includes seven tracks from guitarist Ukigumo, five tracks from keyboard player Ichiyo Izawa and one composed by bassist Seiji Kameda. Drummer Toshiki Hata was also asked to contribute, but he declined. There's nothing wrong with it, but when it comes time to name drop Tokyo Jihen tracks, my mind often does not wander here. 娯楽 is best known for lead singles "O.S.C.A." and "キラーチューン" (Killer-tune), and "金魚の箱" (Kingyo no Hako) which became the theme for the film 魍魎の匣 (Mouryou no Hako), but my personal favorite song is "黒猫道" (Kuroneko-do). It ended up selling 175,000 copies and was certified Gold by the RIAJ. -@Zeus trico MUSICS Sometimes brilliance goes overlooked because it's found in the most unexpected places, or in trico's case - a place that wasn't even on the radar for most. 2006 saw the release of the band's first album, but it was just humdrum enough to be negligible. They hadn't become a band that you'd hear readily flying off the lips of J-indie fans, so it made sense that Musics went by barely detected when it dropped the next year. I'm not sure what transpired in the time between these two releases, but trico had clearly become inspired in the interim. As opposed to downy, who were far left-field, and sleepy.ab, who were perhaps a bit too poppy, trico managed to hit the perfect stride of Radiohead-inspired rock, while also forging their own identity. With Musics, the band remained highly accessible while keeping things interesting. They took some interesting creative liberties, employing unusual sounds and subtly progressive arrangements, yet never became overly-experimental or self-indulgent. This was a short but fantastic mini-album, and it's a shame that this was trico's last proper release. I would have LOVED to hear what else they could have gone on to produce! -@CAT5 Versailles Lyrical Sympathy Many of these tracks have been revisited and re-recorded in many releases by Versailles, which should indicate just how influential this release is. The Revenant Choir was the first release, but Lyrical Sympathy is what opened the door and introduced the band to the world. Classics such as "The Love from a Dead Orchestra" and "Sympathia" are among many fan favorites, and it's always refreshing to hear a power-metal band take a few trends and buck them. Actually, there are only one or two tracks here which haven't made a reappearance because they've even recycled the intro track! A decade ago when I first stumbled across Versailles, I never thought I'd have the opportunity to see them grow and come this far. Lyrical Sympathy holds up if you approach it from an ideas perspective, but as far as execution goes it's a diamond in the rough that I enjoy with the thickest rose-tinted glasses I can find. -@Zeus - Liked our list? Disagree with our list? Did we miss anything? Feel free to leave your comments below, let us know what you think, and let us know what albums you found remarkable that have turned 10 this year!
  13. 19 points

    5 Things I Hate About VK

    For as much as I love visual kei, there are plenty of practices I detest. I could go on forever. It wouldn't be fair to celebrate all of the good in the scene without admitting the bad as well. There are so many things that make me sad, make me irate, or make me want to rip my hair out that it was hard to settle on just five. Here's five commonplace practices in visual kei that's a total ball ache for any international fan invested into the scene. Like I said above, I have way more than five things that annoy me about the scene. Does anyone else want to fill in the gaps with practices that they hate that they've come to accept within the scene? Come share your frustrations and horror stories with me. We have plenty of tea and live-distributed crackers for you.
  14. 19 points

    DuelJewel to Resume Activities

    >be a bandman >play shitty american cons for years >no one cares about you in japan >finally start to come up, band does well >almost make it to your 20th anniversary >vocalist gets a bunch of absolutely heinous vocal conditions >forced to disband >over two years later, he's finally better and you can keep doing what you love >some guy on a forum calls you cringey for taking a cute photo with your bandmates
  15. 19 points

    Akinori returns to lynch.

    At lynch.'s countdown show last night, Akinori appeared during the encore, and after an apology, announced he will be returning to the band.
  16. 19 points

    Show Yourself (again)

    I cut a wig for the first time and I love how it came out !
  17. 18 points

    New band gulu gulu has formed

    烏名 鳴と不愉快な仲間達 (Karasuna Mei to Fuyukai na Nakamatachi) has now become a formal band called gulu gulu Vo. 哀/I [Ai] (ex.Kuroyuri to Kage f.k.a 烏名 鳴 Karasuna Mei) Gt. 凛人/Rito (ex.MIZTAVLA 光 Kou) Gt. Kazari (ex.llll-Ligro-) Ba. 藍珠/Lanju (ex.Grieva 緋雨 Hisame) Dr. 螢ちゃん/Hotaru chan (ex. Balalaika f.k.a カタセ ケイ Katase Kei) They will make their first appearance at cure festival on 4.28 and hold their first oneman on 8.12 at ikebukuro EDGE Their first Single「変なメリーゴーランド」 will be released in 2 types on 5.28 -不味い盤- 1. 変なメリーゴーランド 2. 嗅覚障害 3. 不味い麻酔 -美味い盤- 1. 変なメリーゴーランド 2. 嗅覚障害 3. Rubra
  18. 18 points
    My body is ready.
  19. 18 points
    RESULTS! Thanks to everyone who participated this year! Judging from many of your recommendations, there definitely still exists some talent in the scene! Without further delay, here are the RESULTS! By recent request, I have added the runner-ups for each category! __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Best Overall Artist/Band Best Album Best Single/Maxi-Single/EP Best Cover Art Best Look Best Newcomer Best Veteran Best PV Saddest Disbandment Most Overhyped Band Most Overhyped Release Most Underhyped Band Most Anticipated Release Band that Changed their Sound for the Best Band that Changed their Sound for the Worse Band that you spent most of your money on in 2018 What the hell were they thinking!? Award Best Revival/Returns An amazing display of results if I may say 😎. Definitely some close calls there, I'll tell ya. Thanks again to the participants of the MH JRock Awards 2018 for your contributions. The staff and I here at MH hope to see you and more future voters here again at the end of the year! Until then, enjoy 2019 😁!
  20. 18 points
    In light of this potentially tragic news, vk.gy will introduce a new feature, wherein you can call your favorite artists fat and ugly. #staystrong
  21. 18 points
  22. 18 points

    Show Yourself (again)

    Been a while since I showed my ugly visage around here. Just got back from an awesome gig, and got this new beanie, it's so comfy & warm <3
  23. 17 points
    DIMLIM: Gt. Ryuya, Vo. Sho, Gt. Retsu Support: Ba. Yume (ex-Pisaro, Now in DIMLIM) Dr. Hibiki (ex-A Ghost of Flare) Set-list: 1. Birth 2. Innocent Passion 3. THE INVISIBLE 4. Limit of reverse 5. Age of lies 6. Destroy a desire 7. MASSACRE 8. 浄土の花 9. 記憶、紺碧の微笑み‬ 10. 初潮 11. 虚妄の歌 12. PERSOALIT NONCONFORMIT 13. 「」 encore: 14. THE SILENT SONG 15. 塵外 16. ハレワタ 17. MASSACRE (Chorus) This was one of my first concert experiences in Japan and it was one of the most memorable concerts I've ever been to. The venue is Takadanobaba AREA and I must admit in pictures it looks tiny, but once inside it’s a lot larger than I expected. The venue is divided into 3 sections: the front, middle, and back. Of course, your boy here was in the front! There was a lot of guys at the live; to my surprise I think it was an even number of girls and guys. Walking into the live, there was a curtain raised with a projection of the DIMLIM logo and the sounds of baby’s crying and screaming. It was very fitting because I wanted to scream as well, I was thrilled to finally see DIMLIM live. The live started a bit late but once it began the projection went away and the SE track “birth” began. The curtain was still raised, but a light from the other side projected the shadows of Ryuya, Sho, and Retsu onto the curtain. They stood still until “birth” ended. A few seconds of silence passed, and they just gained life as they began playing “Innocent Passion . The song began with the opening riffs, and once Sho gave his scream, the curtain was lowered revealing all of them. Everyone looked amazing, but Sho stood out since the paint on him was inverted from the paint he had on the MV for “THE SILENT SONG”. He had a white colored face with black details. He still looked killer. As they played, Sho hits all the screams, including the intense high-pitched ones. Most bands skip these types of screams, but Sho made sure he hit each one. Other noteworthy standouts are Ryuya and Yume (At the time he was in Pisaro but he’s now officially in DIMLIM). I was shocked at how skinny Ryuya was, even though he still looked great. Yume, well, he’s short. I’m not joking. He’s so tiny, he had a box next to him, that he would use to stand when he wanted to yell something or get the crowd’s attention. It was cute haha. Everyone was noteworthy because Hibiki (ex- A Ghost of Flare), despite not being in a visual-kei band, still wore eye shadow, did his hair, and wore a cool outfit. He looked wonderful. And Retsu… well he’s fucking beautiful, so nothing else I can say there. They played a few more songs, but I was so unprepared once they got to “Destroy a desire”. A lot of the songs had dance moves that go with them, like fist pumping or waving your hands side to side, etc. (AKA Furitsuke). For the most part, it was headbanging. But for “Destroy a desire”, people started jumping side to side. They first jumped to the right and before I could make it and realize what was going on, they started jumping to the left (towards me) and I almost crashed in to one of the girls. Side note: Im 6’3” so I’m nowhere near little. I would have destroyed this girl. Luckily, I managed to jump left and join them. After this they debuted the song 「」.It began with the whispers of a women and goes into a techno like rhythm. The pacing of the song is slower than the usual songs DIMLIM puts out. Its not the heaviest song, but there are some screams. My personal favorite part is the harmonics that Ryuya adds during the slow parts. It’s a really nice song. To my surprise they played “初潮”afterwards. I was expecting this song to be their closing song, but I didn’t mind it. It’s every bit as beautiful and powerful live as I’d hoped it be. I gained so much respect for Yume because he owned that solo and overall did an awesome job. He even played it sitting just like Tsubasa (former Bassist) used to. Retsu executed the solo beautify and it gave me chills seeing it played live. And probably the most fun I had was during the wall of death. For those that don’t know, a wall of death is when the crowd splits into two and gets some distance between them, so they can run towards one another. During “MASSACRE”, Sho asked us to split and so we did and as he was hyping us up I proceeded to taunt the other side haha (I flexed a bit haha). Unfortunately, I don't remember much about “Age of lies” and “記憶、紺碧の微笑み”. These two songs where part of the first live limited single so this was my first time listening to them. All i rember is one of them not being as heavy, so kind of slow. Wish I can say more but thats all I got. The main set ended, and they played a short video. Sadly, I can't read Japanese, or at least all the Kanji that was there. There was a lot of clapping and cheering haha. The video ended, and the curtain opened, and the band stood before us. All the lights were off and out of nowhere Sho gave a powerful scream that began “THE SILENT SONG”. Sho had a podium in front of him like the one in the MV. It was painted black and had the DIMLIM logo sprayed onto it. It was a really nice touch and I wasn't expecting it. Sho sang the song with the podium. He would lean on it in order to get closer to the crowd and even shaking it to get the crowd going. Sadly, he shook it too hard and halfway through the song the podium fell apart. Sho tried to hold it together, but it collapsed, and all the pieces fell to the floor. Sho sighed but he laughed it off and continued singing. Staff stepped in and removed the pieces off the stage. I figured that the end was near, and of course they closed with their debut song “ハレワタ”. All i can say is Holy Hell was it good live. The energy they gave off was incredible. They played and sang passionately and when they headbanged, everyone headbanged. The song ended, and I thought it was over. I was wrong, DIMLIM wanted to get us going one last time so they transitioned into the chorus of MASSACRE and made us do a wall of death again to end the show and we did. I taunted again hehe... and the show ended as powerfully as it had begun. Bonus: They have this thing where if you buy cheki, certain cheki will be marked with "Lucky" in Kanji. If you get a cheki with one of these written on them you can take a picture with one of the members. I bought three and got Luky hehe... I was thrilled, and I yelled a bit and some of the girls there game me a stink eye. You snooze you lose, because I didn’t see those girls after, so they didn't get lucky HAHA. I waited in line to take my picture and once it was my turn I was really nervous. I went in the room and there they were Sho, Ryuya, and Retsu. I wanted to tell them something at least, so I told them I had come from the U.S. to see them. And that their music is super cool. Sho nodded with his arms crossed and said "hmm”. I’m guessing that a good thing, Ryuya said "Ahhh". lol and hands down the best reaction was Retsu. He said in English, "I can speak english a little bit.... Stay with Us!" I wanted to cry he made the effort to speak English for me and he did it so well. I took my picture with Retsu ❤️
  24. 17 points


    A lot can be said, positive and negative about the legacy of MALICE MIZER, whether it's the abrupt departure of Tetsu after just one year, the GACKT years, the untimely death of Kami or the rise and fall in the Klaha years. There's no better way to understand how MALICE MIZER went from unknown to legends of Visual Kei than to start in the beginning. In the Beginning: The Era of Tetsu MALICE MIZER was formed in August of 1992 when former guitarist of Matenrou, Közi joined forces with the support bassist Mana and the two recruited the former Ner-vous vocalist Tetsu, former ZE:RO bassist Yu~ki and former DATURA (not to be confused with DatuRΛ) drummer Gaz to form MALICE MIZER (a postmanteau of Malice and Misery) with a concept based on the darker side of human nature. MALICE MIZER immediately began activities and released their first demo tape SANS LOGIQUE which had foregone vocals and released Speed of Desperate on the compilation album Brain Trash which featured acts such as ALUCARD, DIE=KÜSSE, THE PIASS and Gazelle. Shortly after Brain TRASH, Gaz departed and Kami joined; Kami being the only other drummer for the band until his untimely death. MALICE MIZER released a few more demos before releasing their debut album memoire on Mana's newly founded label Midi:Nette. Tetsu then left the band at the end of 1994 with a live performance titled Cher de memoire II on December 27th. Taking a Different Route: It's Gackt Time MALICE MIZER went into 1995 without a vocalist, but they didn't let it stop their surge as they performed without a vocalist for a sponsored event titled Dai Goya Higeki no Bansan Vol.5 (第五夜 悲劇の晩餐 Vol.5) before Gackt officially joined the band as the new vocalist with his first performance on October 10th Karei naru Fukkatsugeki. The music of MALICE MIZER took a drastic turn and was the catalyst for the rise of Gackt as a performer and set the stage for his continued success after leaving the band as the band went from a Gothic sound to a more upbeat sound; something that became a signature of Gackt's solo career. In 1996 MALICE MIZER released their second album Voyage sans retour and underwent a nationwide one-man tour culminating in a show titled Sans retour Voyage deux 1996. MALICE MIZER continued their stride in 1997 when they signed a contract with major label Nippon Columbia, a subsidiary of Columbia Music Company as well as undergoing a sold-out nationwide tour with STANDING TOUR '97 Pays de merveilles ~空白の瞬間の中で~ and a regularly broadcast radio show MALICE MIZER no Mayonaka no s'il vous plaît on CBC Radio. Merveilles, MALICE MIZER's third album and second featuring Gackt as vocalist is released in March of 1998, the band announced merveilles ~Shuuen to kisuu~ in which the tickets sold out in just two minutes as well as undergoing a new radio show MALICE MIZER no shisetsu hisho no chojutsu on Chiba's renowned bay-fm radio station. However, things would take a turn when in January Gackt decided to leave the band at the peak of their popularity to form own solo project that he continues to this day, simply called GACKT featuring a backing band appropriately titled GACKTJOB. As if losing their vocalist wasn't bad enough tragedy struck when in June beloved drummer Kami passed away suddenly from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, more commonly referred to as a brain hemorrhage. With the world crashing down around his shoulders, Mana underwent damage control and returned MALICE MIZER to his own label. Malice Mizer went on to release one song after Gackt left, a piano song called Saikai no Chi to Bara. Little did they know that their fortunes were about to change as their savior was right around the corner. From Rebirth to Climax: The Year of Klaha PRIDE OF MIND former vocalist Klaha joined MALICE MIZER on vocals on August 31st and would be the third and final vocalist for the group. MALICE MIZER proceeded to get back to making music right away with the release of their fourth and final album Bara no Seidou and Klaha had his first live performance one week later with Bara ni irodorareta akui to higeki no makuake - Dai icihiya saikai no bara. Sadly, nothing lasts forever and after several singles, a feature length, albeit silent film Bara no Konrei ~Mayonaka ni Kawashita Yakusoku~ and even a concert DVD in 2001, MALICE MIZER went on an indefinite hiatus at the end of the year. Each member releasing their own respective personal messages regarding the hiatus on the bands official website. Post Mortem: An Uncertain Future After MALICE MIZER went on an indefinite hiatus the respective members were quick to move on to other projects, except for Yu~ki who's only activity since the hiatus was contributing to a song on Közi's solo project. The aforementioned Közi went on to be in a managare of bands, first with HARUHIKO ASH in Eve of Destiny, then started a solo project as well as XA-VAT, ZIZ, VAMQUET and joined Ryo from 9Goats Black Out to form a nu-goth band called DĂLLE. Mana quickly formed his own solo project that is still running strong today called Moi dix Mois and launched his own fashion label Moi-même-Moitie as well as becoming a producer for the band Schwarz Stein and cellist Kanon Wakeshima. Tetsu formed several bands of varying styles of music after leaving MALICE MIZER with the most notable being ZIGZO and Nil. Gackt has been active as a solo artist since leaving MALICE MIZER and subsequently ventured into film and television while Klaha released a solo mini-album and full length album before disappearing from the scene in 2004, not to be heard from again. MALICE MIZER may be no more, but the pieces have come together several times since the hiatus, Közi joining Mana's Moi dix Mois in 2008 at Dis Inferno Vol.VI ~Last Year Party~ and again in 2009 for a two stop tour Deep Sanctuary; Deep Sanctuary becoming a staple event for Moi dix Mois from then on. Moi dix Mois and Közi went on another, longer tour in 2010, six shows aptly named Deep Sanctuary II which featured the return of Yu~ki on bass; the three reuniting on stage for the first time in nine years. The show featured MALICE MIZER classics such as Saikai no Chi to Bara and Beast of Blood as well as a cover of shock rocker Rob Zombie's What Lurks on Channel X. Moi dix Mois then held a tenth anniversary concert Le dixieme anniversaire Live 2011~2012 ~Tetsugaku no Hahen Dainana Shou Shinen naru Seiiki Deep Sanctuary III~ which saw Közi performing with his new band ZIZ with Yu~ki returning on bass. Sadly the original drummer Gaz passed away on December 22nd 2017, one year before the bands 25th anniversary and the subsequent reunion show last year Deep Sanctuary Ⅵ MALICE MIZER 25th Anniversary Special which featured the return of the trio as well as former roadies for the band performing their own renditions of classic songs, such as former LAREINE vocalist KAMIJO joining for his own take on the Gackt era songs APRES MIDI and Bel Air ~Kuuhaku no Shunkan no Naka De~, cali≠gari's Shuuji with a riff on the Tetsu era's Kioku to Sora and ILLUMINATI as well as Moran former vocalist Hitomi with Gackt's Madrigal and N.p.s.N.g.s. The show featured ZIZ and Moi dix Mois performing their own songs and MALICE MIZER covers with the show ended with a tribute to the departed Kami and all of the guest vocalists singing together for Ma chérie ~Itoshii Kimi E~. There have been teases for years and the band have come back in several shapes, but whether they will return with the likes of any of their three former vocalists is unlikely or at best up in the air with all of them seemingly content with their careers and lives and consider MALICE MIZER a part of their past. The future of MALICE MIZER is uncertain, but it's safe to say that the Visual Kei scene would be shaken to the core if the stars aligned and the malice and misery rose like a phoenix for a second time. Member History Current Lineup Mana - Guitar (ex-Matenrou, Moi dix Mois) Közi - Guitar (ex-GIRL, ex-Matenrou, ZIZ, XA-VAT, DĂLLE, Solo, VAMQUET) Yu~ki - Bass (ex-ZE:RO) Former Members Gaz - Drums (ex-DATURA, deceased 2017) Tetsu - Vocals (ex-Ner-vous, ZIGZO, Nil, THE JUNEJULYAUGUST) Kami - Drums (deceased 1999) Klaha - Vocals (ex-PRIDE OF MIND, Solo, retired) Gackt - Vocals (ex-Cains:Feel, Solo, YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz) Support Members Shue Sakai - Drums (ex-JACK BLUE, N.S.D.P., Everlasting-K) Kazune - Keyboard (Brain Hacker, Art Cube) Staff Members Hitomi - Roadie (ex-Moran, UMIYURI) MAYU - Roadie (ex-LAREINE, ex-NEW SODMY) MACHI - Roadie (ex-LAREINE, Chanton L'amour) Masanori Yabuki - Roadie (Datenshi Tokyo, Ant1nett) KAMIJO - Roadie (ex-LAREINE, ex-NEW SODMY, Versailles, Solo) Shuuji Ishii - Roadie (cali≠gari, goatbed, EX-ANS) Discography Albums (1994.07.24) memoire (1996.06.09)Voyage ~Sans Retour~ (1998.03.18) Merveilles (2000.08.23) Bara no Seidou (薔薇の聖堂) Mini-albums (2000.02.01) Shinwa (神話) Demos (1992.10.31) Sans Logique (1993.04.05) Sadness (1993.10.12) The 1th Anniversary (1996.00.00) Après Midi (1999.11.03) Saikai no Chi to Bara" (再会の血と薔薇) Singles (1995.12.10) Uruwashiki Kamen no Shoutaijou (1996.10.10) Ma Chérie ~Itoshii Kimi E~ (1997.08.06) Bel Air ~Kuuhaku no Shunkan no Naka De~ (1997.12.03) Au Revoir (1998.02.11) Gekka no Yasoukyoku (1998.05.20) Illuminati (1998.09.09) Le Ciel ~Kuuhaku no Kanata E~ (1999.11.03)Saikai no Chi to Bara (2000.05.31) Kyomu no Naka de no Yuugi (2000.07.26) Shiroi Hada ni Kuruu Ai to Kanashimi no Rondo (2001.05.30) Gardenia (2001.06.21) Beast of Blood (2001.10.30) Mayonaka ni Kawashita Yakusoku (2001.11.30) Garnet ~Kindan no Sono E~ OHP Moi dix Mois Közi Moi-même-Moitie -A huge thanks to @inartisticand the great team over at vk.gy for a wealth of information that without, this would not have been possible.
  25. 17 points

    Releases calendar

    Like I said in the suggestions thread : The official MH Visual Releases Calendar is ow opened ! I will do my best for daily updates and feel free to add the missing ones . 2018 JANUARY 2019 FEBRUARY 2019 MARCH 2019 APRIL 2019 MAY 2019 JUNE 2019 JULY 2019 AUGUST 2019 SEPTEMBER 2019 OCTOBER 2019 NOVEMBER 2019 DECEMBER 2019 JANUARY 2020 FEBRUARY 2020
  26. 17 points
    Tenten is going to announce his new band My CHEMICAL HEAT IsLAND RE:PICTURES KuRt はなむけ my way.co.isthebomb.com
  27. 17 points
    Me fighting off the haters on my way to buy my 18th copy of Gensoukyoku
  28. 17 points

    Show Yourself (again)

    Hey guys! Been aware of this forum for ages but only now getting into participating. Me casually and me being vk, haha. We have some fun annual vk nostalgy nights in Helsinki, so it's a cool chance to dress up!
  29. 17 points
  30. 17 points
    Hey guys! As you may have noticed, the news section is more active than ever before since a certain character has departed, and more and more users are able to contribute their findings without any disruption or intimidation. With more contributors than ever, we each have our own writing style; some of us simply copy and paste band announcements and then translate them - whether by machine or on our own - to the best of our ability, and some of us take a more journalistic approach by adding more details rather than the standard news format of the past. To keep our status as one of the leading J-rock news sites/forums, we've decided to add in some rules and regulations to keep the forum in order and to help future contributors post without any issue: REQUIREMENTS: - intelligible English - News sites like Shattered Tranquility and JROCK NEWS actually make articles about the topics posted here, so think about how you write them. Make sure to proofread spelling, grammar, etc., so that it can be more coherant and understandable to the reader. - Translations to romaji are required mainly for band and release names, since most of our users are not proficient in Japanese (Google Translate is fine, but you are free to request/suggest alternate translations for the sake of accuracy, especially since song titles are a bit more challenging) As elaborated further down below, vkdb or Google can help decipher any names if you need to double-check. *If there's any issues with making translations using Google Translate, I suggest using RomajiDesu! Not only will it romanize the kanji you want to translate, but also show an English translation for each character used (if you're interested ^^). - Please be sure to update the title of the post after a significant update has been announced. For example, if you start off with the topic, "MERRY new single" and the name is announced later on, please change the title to that of the release itself, ex. "MERRY new single, "Kasa to Ame" release". This gives the threads more variety and it's better than skimming thru topics that all have "MERRY new single" in the title. **Highly recommended for topics whose releases are announced after the creation of a thread. Ex. "Plastic Tree to perform OP" turns into "Plastic Tree new single, "Inside Out". This prevents any confusion, skimming through extra info, and especially unnecessary duplicate threads. - Please Please PLEASE use the report button if there's a double-post or issues in the thread. (the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is to check up the news and try to find some things that are out of order. Some days, I won't be around, nor will the rest of the staff, to do that as we do focus on our own lives too. Reporting a post is a much easier way of getting our attention rather than simply posting in the thread about the error, or even worse, unnecessary drama...) - Speaking of cooperation, this is NOT a competition. If someone else posts what you originally left out/posted seconds ago, or the reverse (some info is left out because they didn't see/understand it), don't make a big fuss (unless it's a double-post of course) ; after all, providing news is a team effort, so it's better to work together and to help each other out! ♥ - Please refrain from making any offtopic posts. This could clog up the thread with more unnecessary posts and less valuable information, especially when that escalates to drama. Any posts that have nothing to do with the aforementioned artist or release, etc., will be removed from the thread. Repeat offenses may warrant a warning for spam or misbehavior. - Make a new topic if necessary, especially if the band's previous thread hasn't been updated in a long period of time. In other words, don't necro long-dead topics, especially if you're only doing so to request an old release. That's what the Requests section is for btw. RECOMMENDATIONS: - Band/release names in kanji and romaji are recommended (makes it easier for hardcore/casual/non-Japanese speaking fans to search up their faves; may have to extend this to the download forum as well) If there's any problems trying to figure out a band/member's name, especially in romaji, google them or check out their webpage/social media/vkdb page, which can all be very helpful. - BEFORE posting, use the search function to check if anything has been posted yet. This can prevent double-posts of topics (such as accidentally making 2 threads about a band's new single), and confusion/competition between users. - When making a new topic, please don't copypaste the original Japanese text onto your post, as it looks out of place and completely lazy. At least make an effort to translate it into English so that everyone can understand it. (2019.3.19) - If you want to make any posts about an artist in general, please do so in their appropriate thread in the Artists section (or make one if necessary). This will prevent any clogging of release threads and saving some of us the trouble to going through page after page to find more relevant information about the actual release. - Put some effort in how you actually research and post news. If a band is disbanding at the beginning of 2018, and the actual date of their last live has been posted, please post that date instead of "so&so will disband in January/February 2018". Most news topics don't need a lot of digging, but for posts like these, it'll totally save up a lot of time and stress. **Also, not everyone can keep up with a certain band/release (and understandably so), so threads often tend to go dead even though new stuff is being announced via the official source. It's highly recommended that you follow a band's twitter or check their webpage ever so often for new updates so they well, won't be forgotten or fall off the face of the earth. xD - When embedding a video/tweet/social media post, make sure you also add some context even when the information is displayed in the embed itself, as bands tend to delete everything once they disband/disable social media sites, etc. If you link to a tweet for example, and it gets deleted, your post will be completely blank and worse off, valuable information/history could be easily lost over time (which makes some of us archivists have a hard time with band histories), or your post will be left completely blank. This is extremely important if you choose to start off a new topic with just an embedded post!! New threads that start off like this are considered low effort, which makes the rest of us have to do the hard work, so please put some effort into your post! - Don't go overboard on making your news look pretty or overexaggerated. We've had some issues with certain users putting in too much formatting on their text, posting too many Youtube/Twitter/etc. embeds all on one post, and it's tiresome to actually go through everything, especially when dealing with a slow internet connection or other factors. Extra formatting such as big text, abusing the bold italic formats, or puking rainbows is completely unnecessary and distracting when all we want to read is the news. If you want to proceed with posting lots of tweets/picspams/videos that are relevant to the topic, fine, but put all that shit under a spoiler.
  31. 16 points

    Reflection: Kagerou (2002-2003)

    蜉蝣 (Kagerou) Vocal - 大佑 (Daisuke) Guitar - ユアナ (Yuana) Bass - kazu (Kazu) Drums - 静海 (Shizumi) July is a bittersweet month for Kagerou fans, as the infamous charisma vocalist himself, Daisuke was both brought into and taken out of this world within the month. Kagerou are a band that have been impossible to replace, both in the the Western and Japanese fandom, as seen in the outpouring of emotion that happens every year on the net around July. Kagerou--the band--isn't just their vocalist, nor are his talents confined to Kagerou, but his passing marked the end of an era. The legendary bands of the mid-late 2000's i.e, MUCC, D'espairsray, lynch., merry, Nightmare and The Gazette all had their roots in the early 2000's, with many of the mentioned members playing alongside each other--most notable being the historic Beauti-Fool's 2003 multi-band event. They were all doing the most in their early eras, embracing eclectic and varied looks and styles in the shadow of visual kei's mainstream success and eventual demise. Daisuke's passing marked the end of the decade in which those aforementioned groups had come through the scene and out of it, shedding their visual flair for a more straightforward rock image and fading into the background of the scene as bands from the mid-late 2000's took over the reigns. They kept their followings, don't get it twisted, but they were in a different category from the hot new faces of the time, i.e. Sug, Versailles, ScreW, Alice Nine, Sadie, etc. While a lot of the earlier bands managed to reach a more constant, and arguably mainstream level of fame past 2010, we've been left wondering what might have been with Kagerou. While Kazu and Yuana continue to play in the scene with Stereo C.K and in sessions, it's on a much smaller scale than their peak of fame. 2006 marked the end of Kagerou, Daisuke passed in 2010---but this isn't a sad history lesson. So why, in 2017, are we discussing Kagerou's tunes from 15 years ago? If you've ever listened to their output from that era, you'll know what I'm going to be getting at. The 2002-2003 era was Kagerou as they were gaining steam--nowhere near their peak popularity with Rakushu and not as polished as their endroll Kurohata. What it was, a raw, aggressive synthesis of alternative rock, 90's visual kei and alternative metal. If this mix sounds familiar, that's because it is, with some of today's hot bands including DEZERT, Xaa-xaa, R-Shitei, Kuroyuri to Kage and Gossip in addition to some legendary names of yore, Girugamesh, Awoi, Sel'm operating on the very paradigm that Kagerou had worked to create--with more than a bit of imitation between them. It's not always songs note by note being ripped off, but rather several stylistic elements that function as motifs in Kagerou's discography that come up time and time again among kouhai bands. Trying to claim the influences of newer bands is an exercise in caution, as while something may sound like a rip off, it could be a rip off of a rip off and you can't know for sure. I won't claim Kagerou's influence as universal, original, or unique (although if you disagree with the latter I'll kick your ass), but I will argue that their 2002-2003 run was the most influential two-or-so year run of any band in the early 2000's. While MUCC and DIR EN GREY were equally prolific and influential in this era, Kagerou's contribution has been overlooked in the greater scheme of visual history, which I hope to address here. If you children think that Vulgar invented visual kei, you're in for a fucking surprise because I've heard more nods to old Kagerou from 2013 onward than anything from aforementioned album in the past half-decade. I think this has more to do with the old school revival we've been experiencing as of late, with bands foregoing bland metalcore rehashes and instead embracing the roots of the genre from the late 90's and early naughts. Some historical context will be missing from the following ~mini~ 'dissertation', because I'm not a vk historian (unfortunately), but I'll try to go through everything as clearly as possible. Now without further ado, lets track Kagerou's discography in this era. The marker I'll be using to start my history is Kazu's addition to the band in late 2001, shortly before the release of Iro megane to scandal in January of 2002. If you recall, Kagerou have been around since the end of 1999, and they were active for almost two years with two other bassists before Kazu. He then stayed with the band 'till the bitter end in 2006, and in all honesty I don't see Kagerou without him. As a bassist, he was skilled in accenting Shizumi's percussive line while also playing second guitar at times to Yuana's loose riffs. He's written some totally hummable bass leads and composed more than a few amazing songs with these at the center of the composition. The moral of the story is that Kagerou became a well-oiled machine with Kazu's contribution, and I find Kazu to be instrumental in their later success—hence starting the timeline with his addition. While some great tracks came out of the pre-Kazu era, and @Disposable might kill me for omitting the 2000-2001 period, the best tracks that came out were re-recorded (as you'll soon see), for singles that fit our era of interest. The only stickler was “Nawa”, which was first released in 2001 and wasn't re-done until 2006's Shinjuuka best-of album. Now that we've set up a start, the end coincides with the self-titled album's release tour finale at Kawasaki's legendary Club Citta, filmed for the live DVD/VT Zekkyou Psychopath at the end of 2003. Is this is the end as we know it? Of course not, Kagerou wrote their biggest songs well after this and their signature album with its wide foreign and domestic distribution, Rakushuu came after in 2004. However, this is where the visuals were more scaled back, with the band no longer looking like they just raided a consignment store on acid after a bad domestic spat. The metal edge changed as well, although not gone—as seen with “XII Dizzy” and other notable heavier outtakes—the band embraced a more clean alternative/visual rock aesthetic and sound. They were still vicious, putting on insane live shows as usual, but with greater maturity and restraint. If you're a fan, you kind of understand how their sound changed from 2003-2004 and onward, and while it wasn't a bad change by any means, it was a change that I don't feel fits in with the period of interest. Okay now we can actually get to the discography, sorry! 01/09/02 色メガネとスキャンダル Iro megane to scandal 1.) 夕暮れの謝罪 (Yuugure no shazai) 2.)エキゾチックな感染症 (Exotic na kansenshou) 3.) 葬失 (Soushitsu) 05/04/02 蜉蝣事典 <大人の書店> Kagerou jiten <otona no shoten> 1.) アイドル狂いの心裏学 (Idol kurui no shinrigaku) *note that there was no single ever titled after the track, this is a frequently misreported part of the discography in the west 07/10/02 水浸しの数え唄 Mizubitashi no kazoe uta 1.) ゆびきり (Yubikiri) 2.) 企画モノ (Kikaku mono) 3.) R指定 (Rshitei) 07/10/02 火炙りの数え唄 Hiaburi no kazoe uta 1.) 午前三時の太陽光線 (Gozensanji no taiyou kousen) 2.) 鬱 (Utsu) 3.) リストカッター (Wrist cutter) 02/08/03 叫び Sakebi 1.) 叫び (Sakebi) 2.) 鬼畜モラリズム (Kichiku moralism) 05/07/03 過去形真実 Kakokei shinjitsu 1.) 過去形真実 (Kakokei shinjitsu) 2.) 説教 38.5℃ (Sekkyou 38.5℃) 3.) 過去形真実 [remix] (Kakokei shinjitsu remix) 4.) 説教 38.5℃ [remix] (Sekkyou 38.5℃ remix) 07/23/03 蜉蝣 Kagerou 1.) 十戒 (Jukkai) 2.) 迷走本能 (Meisou honnou) 3.) 根暗高速子守唄 (Nekura housoku komoriuta) 4.) 冷え性の女 (Hieshou no onna) 5.) 闇に笑う黒 (Yami ni warau kuro) 6.) マーヴェラスな首飾り (Marvelous na kubikazari) 7.) 雨の海岸通り(Ame no kaigan doori) 8.) 所詮、自分は犬であります。(Shosen, jibun wa inu de arimasu) 9.) ピチ崇拝 (Pichi suuhai) 10.) 過去形真実 (Kakokei shinjitsu) 11.) 渦(Uzu) 2002's string of singles are a perfect introduction to early Kagerou, featuring them at their most extreme and also at their softest. While some of the tracks were lost in time, others became eternal fan favourites and live staples until the very end. As for the killer live tracks, both “Yuugure no shazai” and “Wrist cutter” were exemplars. On studio, they're brief, rough and tumble tracks: “Wrist cutter” is a flurry of blast beats and thrash-y riffing and “Yuugure no shazai” a more punk-y styled early 2000's/90's throwback. In a live setting however, these ~3 minute tracks were stretched to 8-10 minutes at a time, building up tension in the audience with Daisuke's insane onstage antics and Shizumi working overtime while Kazu and Yuana either played off of each other or also dicked around with the audience. This is more or less the contemporary gyakudai number which is now a staple in any band's live repertoire. Common among the two tracks is the influence their guitar sound had on the scene as well. “Yuugure no shazai”'s guitar line almost deserves its own article, because there's an extensive list of bands who have ripped off the style and structure of the riff. What's unique about the riff is the way Yuana plays with the phrasing and pitch and how it interacts with an effect-laden guitar tone. The guitars are abnormally distorted and clipped, both in the context of visual kei and Yuana's sound overall. It almost sounds like someone put his rig through a bass distortion pedal, and the end result is this beefy and robust sound that has yet to be replicated in a visual band...think something along the lines of Dinosaur Jr. or something. This distortion also lingers a bit, almost suggesting a delay effect is thrown on as well. Anyone trying to cover the song has probably run into some difficulties with that sound, as it throws off the way its played—I know I have. The riff is a simple series of power chords, but the way they move up and down the neck in tandem with the furious rhythm, both in the verses and chorus are evocative of being shaken back and forward. Yes, a single riff made me think of being physically moved—physically and emotionally. What's cool is how completely fresh this sounds in the context of 2017 as well, it's kind of a jaw dropper to think this was released in 2002. That is in huge part to many bands taking a liking toward—what I'll now call—the shaking riff. You hear it all the time, In Xaa-xaa's "Shinitai", DEZERT's "Himitsu", Shellmy's "Katou zakuro" and so on. It's not the exact same, but that principle of moving up, down, and back up is eerily similar. “Wrist cutter”'s structure is more so notable than a standout riff, especially the rhythm work as a alt-metal track. The bass plods pretty high up in the mix along with incredibly busy drumming from Shizumi, which carries the track as it moves through it's iconic thrashy riff and Daisuke's mad vocalizations. The jumping part toward the end (you'll know what I'm talking about) is notable too, as a fragment of the kote-kei era being repurposed into a metal track. I'm pretty sure any band guy that heard it, with the gang shouting vocals, screaming and start stop drumming was permanently entranced. Drawing from some recent releases, DAMY's “Eikyuu ni puppet” is like that brief section of wrist cutter being dragged out into a full song. Another track that (I think) rounds out the holy trinity of 2002 Kagerou songs is “R-Shitei”. The takeaway message is not that R-shitei named themselves after this track (they probably did, lets get real sis) but rather the contrast between unhinged, chaotic verses contrasted with a saccharine chorus. While this is a common complaint with the current indies sound...don't get mad y'all, Kagerou did it first. That said, I understand why people see this as a cop-out, but with “R-shitei”, it doesn't come at the expense of a jarring key change, rather it fits into the contrasting structure of the track. Speaking of that chorus, it's damn glorious; Daisuke is at his finest melodically in the track—in stark opposite to his crazy talk/grumbling in the verses. Among these big hits, there are many underrated gems waiting to be overturned as well. “Utsu” is a weird pick, especially as the band chose to play it at their last live—much to the possible confusion of those who were there (the footage looked awkward). Stylistically, it's closely aligned with “Wrist cutter” through the busy sense of rhythm, despaired chorus and insane end section freak-out. It's also a bop of the highest order, and a shame I discovered it so late. The little jazz break in the middle is somehow funny in the greater context of the track, but a great example of the varied and quirky compositional style of early Kagerou before they ended up toning it down. The two main ballads “Gozensanji no taiyou kousen” and “Soushitsu” pale a little bit in comparison to the band's later, Kurohata-era balladry as they go on for a bit too long and sound a bit messy. That said, the ideas they offer are the backbone of their later work. “Soushitsu”'s acoustic core is reworked into “Shizumu sora”, and “Gozensanji...”'s delicate lead guitar and percussion is heard again in “Wakaremichi” and “Kusatta umi de oborekaketeiru boku wo sukuttekureta kimi”, all of which were composed by Kazu. They're worth the listen for hardcore fans, as they're rewarding despite some of the fluff—but hey, not everything is perfect all the time. Moving onto 2003, we see Kagerou releasing some more melodic singles compared to the 2002 era. “Yubikiri” and “Sakebi” are two tracks I often confuse for each other, partially because they're both beautifully melodic, bittersweet-sounding (although quite different) and a slight departure from their previous work, hinting at their future outlook. “Sakebi” was also their last pre-album single release, and from then on, the band's discography structure would change. Kagerou were an indies band up until the very end, despite being signed to their own sublabel under Free Will, Lizard, supposedly distributed under Sony. The Japanese wiki is in conflict with the English one, and even among Japanese fans there has been question as to whether Kagerou were indies or major. Their releases were big enough to have charted on Orikon's major charts, which began with Kakkokei shinjitsu, the band's second highest charting release at #40, just behind the 2006 Kusatta umi... 3 ver. maxi single release at #21. I'm bringing this up because while their label affiliation didn't change, they began followed the western/major band style of singles featuring lead tracks from upcoming/preceding albums, with a new b-side or two thrown into the mix. This was kind of a bummer and why their 2002-2003 era was so unique, partially because of the insane speed by which they were writing, recording and touring their songs, and also because of how much original music came out. Aside from “Meisou honnou” being featured in a 2002 VA, and the obvious “Kakkokei shinjitsu” inclusion, all the tracks from Kagerou were unique and unreleased. No 8 old songs on a 10 track release, no cashgrab compilation or mini-album, no bullshit. As an indication of what was to come, “Kakkokei shinjitsu” was misleading. A TBS nightly sports show closing song, it is a bright and pretty song without the carnal, rhythmic flair that was overflowing on the S/T. It comes across as kinda boring, and even the cheap, skittery b-side on the single doesn't help much. It works better in the overall scheme of the album though, which is a truly dazzling piece of visual history. Kagerou is a heavy, dark, cohesive, grinding album with sharp poppy, melodic sensibilities in the mix, along the lines of DIR EN GREY's VULGAR, D'espairsray's Coll:set, and MUCC's Homura uta. To talk about individual tracks is kind of against the ethos of the album, as all the pieces work best within the context of the album. This is the opposite of their prior output, which was a bit spotty from release-to-release, and while the album comes without super standouts like the aforementioned tracks, what the band gained was a stylistic voice. This was the sweet-spot between their now waning old-school visual influence and alternative rock, alt-metal and post-hardcore songwriting, with a fair dosage of jazz, blues, and pop in the mix. Kazu most notably came into his own in this release, with a lot of punchy basswork—especially some notable slap sequences, as seen in “Yami ni warau kuro”. While this is an older album, the riffs here slap harder than anything DIR EN GREY released back then, and I'm still confused why they eat up all the acclaim around here for inventing alt-metal in Japan. What about that poly-rhythmic breakdown in "Nekura housoku komoriuta"? The opening lurch and howling despair of “Meisou honnou”? The tension-release in “Marvelous na kubikazari”? The DEZERT-core bass and guitar in “Ame no kaigan doori”? Bitch...this shit slaps. Speaking of DIR EN GREY, Shizumi always reminded me of Shinya in his earlier days--around the time both bands were active. His attention to detail and fills and frills, especially cymbal work and spacy drumming on ballads is a close parallel with Shinya's MACABRE-era drum work. The bands were close however, as they were both the big shots on Free Will at the time, with DIR EN GREY on the cusp on mainstream success. Kagerou's OHP is still open, both in English and Japanese, and it's heartbreaking to navigate. The site hasn't been touched since 2005, with the copyright frozen in time, and a website design that must have been gorgeous for its time serving as a reminder of just how old we've gotten since then. Whats especially sad to me is how much they invested into making things accessible for their European/English speaking fans, considering no one does anything like that anymore. It's a kind of haunted place on the internet and in the fandom, but also a beautiful relic that continues to stand of a legendary band. July 31st has passed, happy belated birthday Daisuke. He would have turned 39 this year, and the weight of his passing isn't lost on me, especially in the writing of this article. Daisuke certainly talked the talk and later walked the walk with his depression, as it manifested in grotesque, macabre narratives within his music, but it's often times too easy to separate the artist from the art. I don't think the news of his passing came as that big of a surprise to die-hard fans, as he had documented his struggles in his poems for a while, but it didn't make it any easier a pill to swallow. At times, it's hard to read his lyrics knowing his eventual fate and partially why I avoided going into detail about his lyricism (spoiler alert, he's an amazing writer). As I've said, this was the end of their proto-indies-whatever-the-fuck-era. Everything past this deserves an article of its own, and while I chose to explicitly focus on 2002-2003, it doesn't mean that the other eras are not as important—just that this period was the most influential by far on the current indies scene of 2014-2017. I'd love to hear what current visual fans who have no clue about Kagerou think of the tracks linked here, as I hope that you hear the bits and pieces of songs, think “Hey, maybe this does sound a bit similar” and maybe lend your ear toward the classics of the genre or venture beyond your post-2011 comfort zone. I've refrained from making this all about individual comparisons, but I welcome them as it's always interesting to compare and contrast present with the past. With the anniversary of his passing almost two months ago now, Daisuke touched many musicians and fans alike and to see the legacy of Daisuke and Kagerou, a full 15 or so years later in full bloom for 2017 is an amazing treat.
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