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  1. 24 points
    In that case visual kei might not be for you
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 18 points
    My body is ready.
  8. 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 😁!
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 17 points
    Me fighting off the haters on my way to buy my 18th copy of Gensoukyoku
  13. 16 points
    Monochrome Heaven's 2019 Banner Contest Thanks for voting! 56 members casted a vote before the poll was closed. I'm happy to announce the winners: In first place with 29 votes was Develop One's Faculties, made by @plastic_rainbow! In second place with 24 votes was Kyo, made by @platy! In third place was DELUHI, made by @ゼロ(*´з`)! Look out for these banners in our rotation soon!
  14. 16 points

    Show Yourself (again)

    Lion tribe
  15. 16 points
    New Look 25th Anniversary Mana Közi Yu~ki
  16. 15 points

    Kisaki Drama 2k18

    (Thank you to @ricchubunny for posting about this in a status, which led to @Chi linking it to me!) An account on Twitter, @KISAKI54175241, has begun to make some fairly serious claims against Kisaki, so here we are in the rumors section yet again. At the time of this posting the account has 66 tweets and multiple images. I saved an archive of the page at it is at this moment in case anything happens to it, so please let me know and I will post that somewhere. Disclaimer: What follows is a translation of allegations made by twitter user KISAKI54175241. I neither endorse nor deny any of the claims made below, and I made a conscious effort to avoid sensationalizing anything in my translations... If you have any questions or feedback in that regard please let me know. More importantly some of the content below is disturbing. There are mentions of domestic violence and child sexual abuse. Please read at your own discretion or skip to the summary below if you would like to know what happened without getting into explicit detail. KISAKI54175241's posts (oldest to newest, although sometimes self-retweets that reordered her twitter timeline will cause discrepancies) The translation as the account stands at 2:28 PM -6:00 GMT is complete. This picture provided by @colorfuljinsei (originally from Kisaki's official twitter?) can serve as a tattoo placement/design reference if you would like to do any comparisons. In summary, Kisaki has been accused of: -Inappropriate sexual contact with a young child -Domestic violence -Being a habitual benzo seeker/user -Being suicidal and using this as a manipulation tactic -Astroturfing tanuki, working to have critical articles and twitters suspended Allegedly, these matters have been brought to police.
  17. 15 points
    Setlist: 1. 99.999 2. Falling 3. Ninth Odd Smell 4. Gush 5. Vortex 6. Venomous Spider's Web -SE- 7. The Mortal 8. その声は脆く 9. DOGMA -SE- 10. The Suicide Circus 11. Incubus 12. UGLY 13. Two Of a Kind 14. Filth in the Beauty Encore: 15. INSIDE BEAST 16. COCKROACH 17. TOMORROW NEVER DIES I'm in need of facial reconstructive surgery after this experience, because my jaw was on the floor the entire time. I have been waiting for years for the GazettE to visit North America on their World Tour. Last time that I remember making plans to go, the band had elected to skip North America, and then the time after that I had prior commitments and couldn't make the show. I was hellbent on making sure I attended this one, and I made sure to bring my friend Jet with me. We were listening to the GazettE in high school during the peak of visual kei, so he's that one friend I can talk to J-Rock about in real life. He's been waiting for this experience as long as I have. After smashing plates of chicken katsu, bulgogi, and rice, and braving our way across town through weather that threatened to pour (but didn't), the two of us arrived at Playstation Theater and was overwhelmed with the disorganization. There were a lot of fans, many lines for various purposes, and no signs to shepherd people into their place. @YuyoDrift, having bought a VIP ticket, was already in the thick of it by the time that I had arrived, and I was unable to find him. After asking around, we discovered that the line we wanted to be on was down the block and around the corner, and that line itself stretched down the block and around another corner. Organization was easily the weak point of this concert, since it seemed like the staff of the theater hadn't planned on so many people showing up. Joke's on you guys; when a visual kei band shows up in America the scene rolls out! @YuyoDrift had reported some issues and drama near the front of the line concerning miscommunication between VIP members and heresy fan club members on who got to enter first, but all I can talk about was how the other half of the line was progressively pushed back further and further until we were about a block and a half away. While I was in line, no less than five groups of people came up to me to ask why we were all standing here. One of them offered to sell me weed and some papers. None of them knew who the GazettE were, but a couple seemed more than interested in the colorful garments of some of the more hardcore fans in line. I need to take a moment to discuss the people that showed up. What a generational gap! There were easily 800 to 1000 people between all of the lines, and this is just what I saw. The youngest fan I saw on line was 12 or 13. The oldest fan I saw on line was in their 40s, and that person didn't look like they were escorting a relative. Some of the older people on line most definitely were parents. The most common age range was actually 18-25. There were people dressed relatively normally like myself, possibly sporting a band shirt or hoodie from a previous tour. There were some scene and emo kids wearing dark pastels and heavy make up. There were some fans who came in sporting colored hair and face paint, really pulling off the visual kei look. The most striking outfit I saw was a man in his 30s wearing a studded vest where the studs were easily several inches long, who came along with an equally as colorful entourage that could have been easily mistaken for Naruto cosplay. The stereotype about the average visual kei fan was thus dispelled and confirmed simultaneously, and I now have a deeper appreciation for just how many different types of fans there are. I was stuck in line for an agonizingly long time listening to the people around me front their knowledge of the band, which was honestly rather painful. One person claimed that the GazettE formed five years ago, to which Jet and I exchanged glances and laughed really hard. We both were listening to the GazettE ten years ago, so clearly they were mistaken. Another person had asked when the band had actually formed, and it took them several minutes to find out it was 2002. Someone behind me in line claimed that the GazettE were K-Pop. I tried not to talk to many people in line because of this, but when you're outside for 90 minutes it eventually happens. I didn't meet anyone too outrageous and after a long time the line suddenly lurched forward and began feeding into the theater. The doors had opened. Jet and I breezed through security, popped in our earplugs, and made our way downstairs to the venue. The line for merchandise was gigantic by the time we got there, and both of us made the decision to get good seats rather than stand in line. That turned out to be the wise move, because most of the merchandise was gone before the show even began, but not before both of us got a shirt later that night. There was a few cool shirts and hoodies that they ran out of before the show even began. Never underestimate the deep pockets of devoted fans. We were standing towards the middle of the floor at first, but we eventually decided to grab some seats shortly before the show began because we had already been standing for hours by that point. That was also a great idea, because parts of the crowd got really wild and it would have been hard to see over four rows of jumping and screaming fans. The earplugs were also a good move, because this concert was really loud. Limiting the sound to a max of 80 decibels spared my hearing a gory torture session and I was more clearly able to make out the instruments. Eventually the lights went dim and the crowd went insane as "99.999" started playing and the band members walked out to front stage. They played the first four cuts off of NINTH before the first pause, and I gotta say that hearing it live has made me enjoy these songs even more. I have a new appreciation for Reita and just how much his bass adds to the music. Heavy isn't the word for it; the bass itself sinks into the floor and pounds into your chest. He swapped bass a few times over the course of the concert as well, always slightly changing the feel of his bass depending on what songs were coming up next. "VORTEX" is the first curve ball that the GazettE threw the crowd, and then that was followed up with "Venomous Spider's Web", and I think both songs sound way better live than on the record. They fit naturally into the set and shows how much NINTH is a refinement over TOXIC. I wasn't expecting them to reach that far back. One of the standout moments of the show was definitely the combination of "The Mortal" and "その声は脆く". The first cut in really heavy after a second, shorter break and the first live-only interlude, which got the crowd really energized. "その声は脆く" stole the show. This was the first proper ballad of the show, and the contrast on the guitars really changed the atmosphere of the venue for those few minutes. Ruki went all out on the performance here, adding some emotional screams to the end which made this a treat to experience. This entire show was recorded, so I'm really hoping that this exact performance of "その声は脆く" ends up on the DVD. It needs to. After that song was done, the lights fade and sound effects wash over the audience again before the opening riff to "DOGMA" began, and it's at this point where the crowd goes ballistic. No one was expecting this. The energy was insane, but this is one of those songs that I think sounds better in the studio than live. That's not to take away from the performance of this song, which was incredibly stellar, but more to comment on just how dense of a song "DOGMA" is. There was a bit of aural whiplash as the band transitioned into a live-only SE followed by "The Suicide Circus" next, but that set the tone for where the rest of the night was headed. Ruki addresses the crowd briefly before "Incubus" kicks in, followed up quickly by "UGLY". "UGLY" was absolutely dominant and by the end of the song the whole crowd was clapping together as the next song immediately kicked in. "Two of a Kind" was also a really powerful and driving song live, if a bit abbreviated. They went from one song to the next without enough time for the cheering to subside. I think Reita makes one more bass switch before this all begins as well. No matter what, the GazettE made sure those in the front were having the absolute time of their lives. Ninety minutes had passed in a flash, and all too soon Ruki announced that they were playing their last song before cracking a small smile. The opening licks and background vocals of "Filth in the beauty" start up and then the crowd cheers harder than ever, and then Ruki's smile gets even bigger before he begins singing. This was the second curve ball we were thrown, and I'm really glad I got to hear one of their classics live. At this point, I looked to Jet who was already looking back at me, and he just shot me a huge thumbs up. "Filth in the beauty" was the song that got him into the band, so to end on that note was extra special for us. The band took a ten minute break at this point and we got merchandise while the crowd was chanting for an encore. We went separately but got the same shirt for $35 (gotta support the boys) and Jet came back just in time for Kai to come back out. He picks up the mic for the first time, entertains the crowd as the rest of the band comes back, and gives the mic to Ruki for a few more words, some "I LOVE NEW YORK!!!", and then the beginning of "INSIDE BEAST" begins. At this point, we were glad they came back out at all and figured that we had one or two more songs left before the true end of the show, but I was seriously not expecting to get "COCKROACH" during the encore. This was the song that separated the old fans from the new fans, because the old fans were over the moon for getting such a throw back, and the new fans looked a bit confused over what song it was, but didn't really care because it banged so hard. This was the oldest song we got all night, and it was equally as compelling live as it is in the studio. I hope future tour dates get a crack at hearing "COCKROACH" live too. The show ended with "TOMORROW NEVER DIES", which was okay I guess, but I would have preferred "Unfinished". All good things must come to an end, but in this case that end was also good. All members of the band retired from the stage rather quickly; Kai took a picture with the crowd before departing too. Both of us had a train to catch, so we slipped out fast as hell after the show ended, but I heard afterwards there was a meet and greet for VIP. I wasn't on that line, so I can't report much on that. Considering how we've missed some bands that we'll never get to see live and how infrequently the GazettE are in town, Jet and I are both glad we went. We'll definitely be in line for the next visual kei concert to hit New York. If you're on the fence about buying tickets to go see the band, I would say go. If you have even a passing interest in visual kei, seeing one of the biggest visual kei bands of all time live is something words can only partially describe. If you really like the GazettE, you owe it to yourself to go. Just keep in mind that they're going to be playing mostly their new material, so don't hold your breath expecting old classics like "Katherine in the trunk" or "Crucify Sorrow" to show up.
  18. 15 points
    I wanna be open with you all about something, the last couple of months have been the most difficult of my life, I have been very depressed, anxious constantly and I’d go from feeling super fine one minute to incredibly down the next. Things in my life, both work and personal, ended up getting too much for me to handle, I was walking home one night and had a breakdown and was prepared to go out and commit suicide by any means necessary. Thank god I convinced myself not to. Now I’m taking steps to seek professional help, and I’m hoping I can get a diagnosis of what’s wrong with me, but I want to say thanks to each and every one of you here at MH, this community provided me with a sense of escape when I needed it the most, I’m so grateful to all of you. Much love ❤️ If any of you here are struggling with anything and you need someone to talk to, to vent about your problems no matter how big or small you feel they are, I’m here for you, just like the community has been here for me ❤️
  19. 15 points
    Another chapter has been written and filed away into the ever growing library of visual kei history, so we resume our customary annual review of all of the great albums that saw the light of day in 2018. Unlike previous years, we elected to wait until the middle of January so the stragglers of the year had their fair chance to weigh in. This list is also not in any specific order, although DIMLIM's CHEDOARA deserves a mention for getting the most votes internally and therefore kicks the list off with a bang. Even in our most challenging years, there's always something fresh and new around the corner waiting to be discovered. Like always, this isn't an exhaustive list and plenty of the hidden gems slip through the cracks, so if you have anything to add to the list tack it on at the end so the entire community can find something new to enjoy. Without further ado, here are some great J-Rock albums of 2018. DIMLIM -- CHEDOARA @The Reverend @emmny @helcchi Sigh - Heir to Despair @The Reverend @helcchi Dir en grey - The Insulated World @emmny emmurée - lightless @The Reverend キズ - 「傷痕」 @platy Mass of the Fermenting Dregs - No New World @The Reverend @Zeus 陰陽座 (Onmyo-Za) - 覇道明王 (Hadou Myouou) @Zeus The GazettE - NINTH @Zeus グリモア - プシュコマキア @platy DADAROMA - dadaism#4 @helcchi @platy lynch. - XIII @YuyoDrift Thanks for reading!
  20. 15 points

    DuelJewel to Resume Activities

    http://dueljewel.jp/pc/zepp.html Duel Jewel announced their return live on March 1st, 2019, at Zepp Tokyo. Hayato has apparently made a full recovery from the variety of conditions (functional dysphonia, vocal dystonia, vocal yips) that caused them to disband.
  21. 15 points

    #116: The Insulated World by Dir en grey

    | Dir en grey's tenth album is something special indeed. Few artists can bring the scene together and elicit responses from everyone the way that Dir en grey can. They can make you pause your habitual listening routines to check out their newest single or album, even if you don't like them. This is because Dir en grey is one of the few bands where we can sense the progression and self-improvement from release to release. I don't think that Dir en grey aspires to impress anyone but themselves from three years ago, and now more than ever I see and feel a band that has graduated from copying trends to setting them. As a concept, and after listening to the album several times, I believe The Insulated World refers directly to them, their view on the world, and the inspiration for where the music they wish to create comes from. The Insulated World feels like a journey into oneself, and the album feels separated into two parts. The first half of the album feels like a turbulent descent into madness, while the second half feels like the madness has yielded to tranquility as the listener floats towards personal understanding. I prefer the second half to the first half. This is a far cry from literally every other album of theirs, where tracks were arranged haphazardly and the experience suffers for it. I can hear various influences from each of their previous eras and albums - some more than others - but one of the most redeeming points about The Insulated World is that it doesn't sound like anything in particular. In the past, I've felt that Dir en grey bit off more than they could chew, and failed to deliver on their own expectations. I felt this most when listening to DUM SPIRO SPERO, where the band used progressive elements for the sake of being progressive. The Insulated World has the progressive elements applied more sensibly, similar to ARCHE. Songs morph and change direction on a whim, but there are hooks and motifs that the band returns to that gives each song coherency. Vocalist Kyo reminds us once again that he's the king of vocal manipulation - just in case you had doubts - but he's embraced his mid range more. Focusing on the extremes of his vocal techniques leaves an immediate and lasting impression at the expense of it sounding very binary. I prefer the vocal extremes for specific emotional climaxes and using other vocal techniques for specific feelings at the appropriate times. "Values of Madness" is the best example of what I am describing, where we get screeching, rapping, singing, and more in a compact four minutes. The re-recording of "The Deeper Vileness" is another great example, and also highlights how well some of the ideas they explored in The Marrow of a Bone translate into their new style ten years later. Complaints about the terrible production job for the singles "Utafumi" and "Ningen wo kaburu" were founded and make more sense in hindsight, with the new versions sounding less congested. Die and Kaoru no longer compete with Toshiya for total control of the low end frequency, Shinya's drum kit sounds less robotic, Kyo doesn't feel tacked on top of the mix, and there's plenty of room left for the guitar distortion techniques and electronic samples to breathe. For the most part, I like the tone chosen for the guitar and the way everything comes together in each song, and I would rank this among both their best and least obnoxiously mixed albums to date. I wish they could get their singles to this quality. The Insulated World is not a perfect release. "Devote My Life" is not listenable due to the piercing, unrelenting tone of the guitar. Sticking it in the second slot does a lot to turn away people who only have once chance to give Dir en grey. They should have gone with a guitar tone closer to "Downfall". "Ranunculus", while a great song and a good note to end the album on, has an atmosphere which doesn't fit with the album. I get the impression this track was conceived either very early or very late in the production cycle, because it stands well on its own. I also am unable to find the hook in the album opus, "絶縁体" (Zetsusentai), which I find difficult to wrap my head around. They've done this style of track more effectively with "Vinushka" and even "Diabolos", and it doesn't hold a candle to the pure atmosphere of "MACABRE". Speaking of Macabre, I also find the new version of "理由" (Riyuu) slightly inferior to the original version. The cover of the song does justice to the original by not straying too much from the melody, but they reined in the emotion of the song and the guitar solo with only a cleaner sound to compensate, and the original version of the song sold itself on its emotion. They didn't ruin it, but they didn't improve it much. The new version of "鬼眼" (Kigan) falls into the same camp, but the much better production values edges it out ahead in the end. For the record, I much rather these safe reinterpretations than ones that butcher the song beyond recognition. These interpretations are subject to change as I spend more time with The Insulated World, and perhaps catch them live one day to experience these songs in person. Even a month later, I still think I wrote this review prematurely, as there are songs still growing on me and others that I am unsure if I like or not. I am pleased overall with how this album turned out, and I can see myself listening to this album in a few years without the songs wearing thin. Dir en grey did well, and this is an album I can recommend to both long time fans and the curious, but if ARCHE did nothing for you then this won't either. Support the artist! iTunes | CDJapan
  22. 15 points
    I just looked at some videos on dystonia patients....this is fucking awful. He says he only has it on his upper right arm, but I'm scared that it may progress all over. I wish the very best for Yusuke. As for those who are saying the band needed this hiatus because "their music sucks anyway"...shame on you. This announcement was very sudden, and losing someone like Yusuke over something as devastating as this is a huge blow to the band, and this man may have to deal with this for the rest of his life. Shame on you.
  23. 14 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. 14 points

    Monochrome Heaven's 2019 Banner Contest

    Monochrome Heaven's 2019 Banner Contest Hey everyone! This is a shout out to all digital artists on the website interested in content creation. It's about time to add some new bands into the rotating banner at the top of the forum, and for that we can use your skills! What better way to show off some skills than in a friendly competition? Here's the basic idea: Create a banner according to the rules which I will define in a moment. Respond to this topic by submitting your banner in a post. Since you cannot edit your post after you submit it, make sure your post is the way you want it before posting. You can submit as many banners as you have time / energy to create. The second phase of the banner contest will be anonymous voting from the community. The top three voted banners will be added to the top and the members who created those banners will be announced then. Winners of the contest will get their screen name in a special color in addition to having their work featured at the top of the forum! Rules: Banner should have dimensions of 800x120. Banner should have a thin, rounded white outline. Banner should preferably be a PNG, but a GIF is acceptable if you are interested in making an animated banner. Banner should in some way relate to Japanese music. Normally, we feature a band at the top, but there is room for creativity. Banner should have the text "Monochrome Heaven" on it. Banner should contain material that is Safe For Work. NSFW banners will be automatically disqualified. Banner submission should remain anonymous until the end for fairness. All banners will be shown at the end. Banners can contain anything else you think will give you an edge in the competition. The submission deadline will be open for four weeks, or until May 18th, 2019. Have fun! I'm excited to see what our members can come up with.
  25. 14 points

    Show Yourself (again)

    been a while since there was a face to the name
  26. 14 points
    Welcome to the 3rd annual most notable VK looks presented by yours truly, The Reverend. As usual, we're here to celebrate the 'Visual' in Visual Kei. Suggest your favorite or least favorite or weirdest looks from the past year in the comments below! Thanks to the ORZ team for helping out and contributing, and especially @platy for making like five banners for me and letting me choose which one I liked best. マーブルヘッド (Marblehead) ユメリープ (Yumeleep) キズ (Kizu) lynch. BRATBAX the Raid. vocalist 星七 (Sena) SHiSHi guitarist お花 (Ohana) MEIDARA Virge Dillinger
  27. 14 points
    just gotta drop my 2 cents in a more visible place: i'm of the opinion that visual kei has been dying for a good minute. but rock "died" in mainstream american music too and its still around. vk will have the same fate. as long as there's japanese people willing to be visual kei, and international english speaking fans willing to listen, then mh will always be here. and even if you have fallen out of love with japanese music, we are still here for you too. at some point, we've grown beyond a site for music and we've become a community and a family, and that is the secret sauce that has allowed us to outlive all our competition.
  28. 14 points
    Well, I have it up in the link below. There was an issue regarding encoding being in both UTF-8 and Shift-JIS, but I got it fixed by configuring nginx to respect the original character set of each html file. If you encounter a 404 not found page, it means the page doesn't exist to begin with because my backup is incomplete but most of the artist pages should be available. https://yunisan.boxjapan.com/
  29. 14 points


    You can only see tzk's back because they can't show that he's crying
  30. 14 points
    Thank you Stockholm & Klubb Lunacy! Some random sweet girl took this polaroid of me 🎵
  31. 13 points
    I moved back to Tokyo on December 31 and started offering shopping service for everyone, rather than just my friends, for small fees. This can be merch and CD/DVD’s from lives/music stores (Tower Records, ZEAL LINK, little HEARTS, Closet Child, Pure Sound etc.) and tickets. ⚠️Follow this post and/or my Facebook group for updates: Paradox VK Shopping Service⚠️ You can DM me here on MH for questions, but orders go through Fb! Confirmed: January ・1/5: JILUKA/DEXCORE/breakin’ holiday/ Яyu (Far East Dizain) SESSION/TRNTY D:CODE/ヴィルシーナ(verxina)/午前零時。(gozenreiji.) ✝️Done✝️ ・1/6: 午前零時。(gozenreiji.)/ユメリープ(yumeleep)/ヤミテラ(yamitera)/フシアナ(fushiana)/MIMIC ✝️Done✝️ ・1/12: 彩冷える(ayabie) - oneman「Virgin Snow Color-Final Season-」 ✝️Done✝️ ・1/15: FIXER vs DIMLIM - twoman FIXER LAST 2MAN ✝️Done✝️ ・1/17: まみれた(mamireta) - oneman「僕が射精された日」 ✝️Done✝️ ・1/20: AIOLIN/ヴァージュ(virge)/ギャロ(gallo)/SAVAGE/DEXCORE/Rides In ReVellion ✝️Done✝️ ・1/27: SARIGIA - 1st anniversary🎉「Where is the Sun」✝️Done✝️ February ・2/11: SARIGIA - Asuka & Mizuki birthday🎉 ✝️Done✝️ ・2/14: まみれた(mamireta)/SAVAGE/NAZARE/蘭図(rands) ✝️Done✝️ ・2/17: SARIGIA/ヴィルシーナ(verxina)/NAZARE/ヴァージュ(virge) ✝️Done✝️ ・2/25: ユメリープ/午前零時。(gozenreiji.)✝️Done✝️ March ・3/9: DIMLIM/Misanthropist/abstracts/Sable Hills/CATHARSIS (Misanthropist with Keita from Far East Dizain) opening act ✝️Done✝️ ・3/23: 午前零時。(gozenreiji.)/烏名 鳴と不愉快な仲間達(Karasuna Mei to fuyukaina nakama-tachi)/ユメリープ(yumeleep)/マチルダ(mathilda)/SiREN/MIMIC/キラワレモノ(kirawaremono) ✝️Done✝️ ・3/27: ティアシティ(TEARCiTY)/THE SOUND BEE HD/Re:move/DictavE/GLORIA/VENECIS ✝️Done✝️ ・3/30: SARIGIA/DEXCORE/NAZARE/DEVILOOF/DOBE/MEIDARA ✝️Done✝️ April ・4/1: 午前零時。(gozenreiji.)/モンストロ(monstllow)/MICBAM/影喰イ(kagekui)/ウラモノ(uramono)/× JAPAN [Vo.Kakeru(Scarlet Valse) Gt.Yuhma(ex.FIXER) Gt.Aika(ex.FIXER) Ba.ゆたら(モンストロ) Dr.遊イ(モンストロ)] ✝️Done✝️ ・4/2: SARIGIA/ジグソウ(jigsaw)/蘭(ran)/mama./アルケミ(archemi)/マチルダ(mathilda)✝️Done✝️ ・4/6: DIMLIM/REIGN/GRIMOIRE/SAVAGE/Chanty/ヴァージュ(virge)/BabyKingdom ✝️Done✝️ ・4/8: SARIGIA - Natsu birthday🎉 ✝️Done✝️ May ・5/11: DIMLIM/SLOTHREAT/Mirrors/Sailing Before The Wind/heaven in her arms ✝️Done✝️ ・5/17: まみれた(mamireta)/DEVILOOF/SCAPEGOAT/JILUKA/breakin' holiday/SiREN ✝️Done✝️ ・5/19: SARIGIA/NAZARE/ヴィルシーナ(verxina)/ヴァージュ(virge)/LAY ABOUT WORLD/ラク×ガキ(raku×gaki) ✝️Done✝️ ・5/29: まみれた(mamireta) 2nd anniversary🎉 ✝️Done✝️ June ・6/5: SARIGIA/NAZARE/AIOLIN/てんさい。(tensai.)/マチルダ(mathilda)/CHOKE/ARYU (ex. MORRIGAN) & Kazuya (ex. THE DC) session ✝️Done✝️ ・6/25: DEXCORE/NAZARE/ヴィルシーナ(verxina)/蘭図(rands)/ヴァージュ(virge)/ラク×ガキ(raku×gaki)/午前零時。(gozenreiji.) ✝️Done✝️ July ・7/23: SARIGIA/MIMIC/mama./カミナリ(kaminari)/Screech in2 the Rain./iCONE ・7/27: DEVILOOF oneman August ・8/17: DIMLIM oneman ・8/18: SARIGIA oneman ・8/19: SARIGIA oneman ・ 8/20: SARIGIA oneman more to come...
  32. 13 points

    Show Yourself (again)

    shalom, shalom
  33. 13 points
    after thirteen years, deadman will hold a oneman live, titled oneman live 2019 -before the dawn-, at Tokyo LIQUIDROOM ebisu on the ninth of September, 2019. the group will consist of 眞呼 (Mako) (Vo) and aie (G). Support members will be Tetsu from MERRY on bass and Asanao from lynch. on drums. nothing about whether this is a full-scale resumption of activities or just a one-day thing. official website
  34. 13 points

    Show Yourself (again)

    remember me as the young girl you see in the photo cuz i have final exams tomorrow so its very likely ill age 40 years in a single night
  35. 13 points
  36. 13 points
    Spoiler: her husband is Takemasa Kujou
  37. 13 points

    Show Yourself (again)

    Might delete later but here's me with no makeup and two eyes, what d'you guys think
  38. 13 points
    well I guess he was... レックレス
  39. 13 points
  40. 13 points
    World tour !
  41. 13 points
  42. 13 points

    Kisaki Drama 2k18

    All the photos prove (granted by my own interpretation) is 1. the woman definitely knew and had some sort of relationship with Kisaki thatw ent wrong, 2. that the woman was definitely injured, 3. that Kisaki at the very least doesn't know how to handle a child/respect a child's physical boundaries, 4. that Riku doesn't trust Kisaki, and 5. that Kisaki ran some kind of Y!JA price-boosting scam. Many of these reflect really poorly on him anyway: 4 and 5 completely match his known behaviors, and the 3rd one is a big ass red flag that would seriously worry me even if the other allegations were somehow proven 100% false tomorrow. But there is still room for being critical of the claims as they've been presented without assuming that anyone doing so is caping for Kisaki/bandmen everywhere so try to keep your heads screwed on when it comes to throwing around words like 'innocence'. I know there's a difference in the quality and detail of evidence provided. I also know that Kisaki is a proven dickhead with a literal rap sheet and that people will understandably weigh that into their judgments. But there are translated assault/rape allegations ostensibly from multiple people against Kyo & Daisuke in this same subforum that have been treated with kid gloves comparatively. I have my own assumptions about Kisaki's guilt like anyone else but it's been annoying me to see not strictly MH members, but off-site people who have jumped on this story as undeniable fact but also decrying tanuki/anonymous sources when it comes to bandmen they actually like because ???. Unless this manifests as an arrest or court case, I'm leaning towards thinking the woman deleted the account because of tanuki scrutiny or regret for posting the pictures of the child. A lot of the posts I read were quite harsh on the mother for taking pictures of her kid looking distressed, and for posting them on social media. I'd also seen some throwaway accounts reply to to her last tweet about deleting the pictures of the kid and criticizing her for originally only deleting a portion. ^^ @Chi I was just searching and a user posted a DM convo they had with the account OP who said that multiple people supposedly helped report him and also said she believes it will lead to an arrest. I hope she's right and that it does go to a court...
  43. 12 points

    What are you listening to 2?

    Hi guys! Turns out that in the forum there's a limit of the number of pages that can be in one topic, and that is around 950 pages. The first topic was so popular we passed that limit! I'm starting a new topic so you guys can post here.
  44. 12 points
    New band "L'eveil en Roseraie" have formed on 2018/11/11. Next live will be at Nishikujou BRAND NEW on 2019/01/27. The first single "静寂の闇に舞う愛と悪戯の遁走曲" went on sale on 2018/12/31 in his live at Kyoto MUSE. "L'eveil en Roseraie" members: vo. Neue -ノイエ- gt.&pi. Renée - ルネ - ba. 忍(ren)(support) dr. 拓郎(takurou)(support) (ex.Larme d'ange) "静寂の闇に舞う愛と悪戯の遁走曲" CD TrackList: 1. 静寂の闇に舞う愛と悪戯の遁走曲 2. フーガ ト短調 -Organ Choral- ohp
  45. 12 points
    we stan a wedding season 👏👏👏 their incel stans r probably already on a suicide watch
  46. 12 points
    キズ (Kizu) will release their 6th single "平成" (Heisei) on 2019.3.19, it will comes in two types (1,620yen, 3songs each).
  47. 12 points
  48. 12 points
    "Trust me, I'm a photographer"
  49. 12 points

    ZON will pass "GAS"

    You had the opportunity and you took it. *standing applause*
  50. 12 points


    I lived in Tokyo and went to all their local shows and many of the away ones too during their second period in the 2000s. Something that I think isn’t fully appreciated among international fans is just how unpopular and broke Lareine was during that time, and how desperately and passionately they worked despite the obstacles. But every concert was magical. It had to be. There was no reason to do it otherwise, and a million reasons to quit. It felt like borrowed time, and I was always so happy and grateful to be able to see them despite the bittersweet feeling they would have been better off doing something else. They always looked exhausted at events, rarely had new costumes, rarely even had new goods because I think they had trouble coming up with deposits. Cheki didn’t start to become a thing until late in their history (2005-ish?) when they’d already spent years grinding away with little return. I suspect the reason why they were able to put out as many releases as they did is because back during Lareine’s Sony days Kamijo invested in buying a bunch of his own production equipment. I think normally an indie band at that level wouldn’t have had those resources. But time to write and rehearse seemed like a scarce commodity too back then. There were times when Kamijo looked half dead. And every time Lareine did a little tour we could watch Kamijo perk up day by day, at the same time as us fans with normal lives were getting more and more tired as the tour went on. It always made me wonder what on earth kind of awful schedule he normally had in Tokyo, juggling the band and probably a part-time job, that going on tour would feel like a vacation to him. (Later on when I read Versailles interviews, they mentioned that Kamijo and Hizaki first met while working at Third Stage.) Unfortunately by 2003 Lareine was already perceived as old, out of date, and uncool. A ‘90s band. If they hadn’t paused in 2000 maybe things would have been different, maybe they could have built a solid base like Dir or Pierrot. But coming back in 2003 it was too late, the trends had already changed. Lareine had few fans back then, and it seemed like all of us were fans from before. I never met any Japanese fans who said they were new. (only international fans) Young VK fans didn’t care. Lareine wrote some of the currently trendy themes into their music in ways that were interesting instead of pure copy/paste, and us old fans had fun, but nobody else cared. They did some amazing experimental stuff on stage, and nobody saw it except us few old fans. To give you an idea of how young fans perceived them, there was a big outcry when Versailles was announced because people didn’t think a pansy weak vocalist with a thin high voice like Kamijo should be playing with awesome (but unknown) guitarists like Hizaki and Teru. They really got outraged when we heard Versailles was going to have a heavy sound. I got in a lot of arguments online at that time with people who clearly thought I was a delusional fangirl for saying that Kamijo’s voice is powerful enough to sing heavier music. In February 2006 Kazumi announced that he was leaving Lareine and retiring from music. I never blamed him, I was thankful that he had done his best to help bring us great music for so long despite the hardships. But this was really the beginning of the end. Lareine put out big ads in the major VK magazines looking for a new drummer, and they even went out of their way to explicitly write that they would take applications from anybody regardless of age or sex or nationality, as long as they could play and would love the band. I think that would be shocking to see in a band’s want ad even today, and this was in 2006 before the explosion of international tours had happened. But they weren’t able to find a drummer, and then during the summer Mayu vanished again. Honestly I can’t even blame Mayu either for wanting to quit under the circumstances, but it was terrible that he vanished without communication or warning. The Club Citta live they did in October was originally supposed to be a Halloween Party event live with multiple bands, not their last live. I went to as many of Kamijo’s anniversary tour dates as I could, since it was so special. The Tokyo final with everyone was amazing. So glad I went. p.s. “Drama” was so great live that to this day I can still half-hear the performance in my memory, even though they only played it twice in Sapporo in February 2006 before Kazumi left. It was so powerful. Kazumi and Emiru were much louder than on the studio version; this song actually has a really sexy rhythm when you can hear them. Mayu took the electric part instead of the acoustic one. They came together solid and strong booming on the beat in that last chorus on the song, Kamijo singing powerfully instead of gently, and hard on the beat like the others. I regret not bringing my MD recorder to Sapporo, but I never imagined that those 2 nights would be the last times we could enjoy Lareine normally.
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