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  1. In celebration of Monochrome-Heaven's 10th Anniversary, we've decided to hop in our musical time machine and take a look at some of the important, classic, and downright pivotal J-rock albums of 2007! Below you'll find albums that left a significant impression on us as fledgeling J-rock fans and albums that impacted the fandom at large. So let's put on our nostalgia-goggles and take a look, shall we!!?? 9mm Parabellum Bullet Termination Alongside the likes of ling tosite sigure, these guys were one of the most hyped bands amongst the J-indie fandom at the time - and with great reason. On this album, 9mm crafted the perfect blend of explosive indie rock with elements of punk, hardcore, and metal - creating a sound so dynamic and fresh that even their naysayers couldn't deny it! TERMINATION was only their first full-length album, but it's responsible for inspiring an entire generation of successive bands with an influence that's still palpable to this day. Sadly, 9mm descended into utter mediocrity after this release, but this remains one of the few albums that I'd consider flawless, and it's widely regarded as a classic by fans. -@CAT5 girugamesh girugämesh Few albums I have listened to in their entirety as much as girugamesh’s 2007 eponymous release. The 45-minute epic strips the soul bare - from the dynamic opener “Patchwork” to the heart wrenching “Kowarete Iku Sekai”, girugämesh brought out an unmatched explosion of creativeness from a group of friends that, despite barely breaking into their 20s, had given their all into music. It is a quality seldom heard in VK today as they channelled all of their aggression, elation, desperation, pain and longing, relishing the listener in girugamesh’s world of raw emotion where each song held meaning and every individual tune stuck to memory. This is certainly one of the albums that not only epitomized 2007, but defined girugamesh for me. For many of us, bands like girugamesh catered to our angst-ridden adolescence, as we threw away our childish inclinations while gravitating toward the darker side of VK. And it was partially thanks to this album that gave me the faith to continue following them throughout their tumultuous latter years and see their career to their end, finally gaining closure with their swansong “period” that took them back to their formative roots. -@helcchi bis Believe in Style If girugamesh represented the transition into the dark side of visual kei to the generation that were growing up in the 00s, bis held tight to that childhood naïveté as they remained frozen in time, echoing sounds of a bygone era of oshare kei. An ode to eternal youth, Believe in Style is an endearing Summer album that embodied all the stupid things we did when we were young and all the fun we had - free of consequences and responsibilities, as well as the bitterness we held towards growing up. “Start”, “DAYS” and “SEASONS” were the quintessential high school anthems that perhaps started many people's venture into j-rock, brimming with youthful energy, catchy tunes and an attitude ready to conquer the world. It certainly seemed that success would come easy with the bright-eyed popular young band shooting their way to the top of the indies charts, yet bis’ world was painted through rose-colored glasses. And like many young bands trying to gain their footing in an adult world, the fun was short-lived and they disbanded way too early. Believe in Style would be their first and only full-length album, however not before leaving us with heartwarming memories. -@helcchi D'espairsRay MIRROR Perhaps the only album I personally covered that sounds just as good today as it did ten years ago, MIRROR is one of the defining visual kei albums of the '00s. Every time I think of the mysterious cover, the riff to "Trickster" starts playing in my mind and Hizumi's crooning is like a harpoon that gets stuck in your head and can't be removed. It's funny to imagine how divisive this album was when it came out because it sounded nothing like [Coll:set], but in retrospect I might consider it the most approachable D'espairsRay album that still maintains the darkness I love them for. There's also bittersweet sentimentality talking, as this is the release which marks the point of no return for many fans. -@Zeus Eksperimentoj Eksperimentoj Having garnered a good amount of clout from the highly regarded band Dhal (a side-project formed by Aoki Robin of downy), vocalist Eugene Wakamikoto's first album with his own band Eksperimentoj was certainly a release of great interest back in 2007. In a lot of ways, Eksperimentoj sounded something like a spiritual successor to downy (who were on hiatus at the time and would remain as such for another 6 years). Eugene wrote and sung the album entirely in English, yet he sounded almost identical to Aoki Robin, and musically, the band played a gloomy, atmospheric style of post-rock that was aesthetically in line with downy as well. Though in spite of the similarities, Eksperimentoj still occupied a space of their own. Unfortunately, this was the only album they ever released, yet it's singular to this very day. -@CAT5 HIZAKI grace project Dignity of crest Released on New Year's Day of 2007, HIZAKI grace project's first album was significant for me as it ushered in the second wind of my VK fandom, which is still kickin' today. I was delighted to see an old face, Juka (ex-Moi dix Mois), combined with some great neoclassical guitarwork and subtle tinges of MALICE MIZER (dat harpsichord in "Philosopher") that brought me back to when I first learned of VK in 2002. Virtuoso guitarists HIZAKI and Teru went on to form Versailles and Jupiter, but I still come back to Dignity to crest fairly often, as it showcases some of their best riffing. -@fitear1590 Ling tosite sigure Inspiration is DEAD Ling tosite sigure (who were still being referred to as 'rin toshite shigure' by western fans at the time), had to be the most exciting band in Japanese indie at the time. Here you had a demure indie rock trio playing music with the technical prowess and ferocity of a death metal band, and their creativity seemed to know no bounds. Even if you found the vocals grating or annoying, you couldn't deny the Ling's ingenuity. Hell, before I grew to appreciate them, I found myself simply captivated by all of TK's insane riffage alone. Coming from a band so talented, and so obviously inspired, Inspiration is DEAD seemed like a statement - a dig against all of the bands who were content to tread the status quo instead of breaking new ground. And that's exactly what Ling did with this album, as they continued to do for years to come. Inspiration is DEAD remains a fan-favorite to this day, and as the band's final indie release, it's one of the most raw and unkempt records they've put out - a far cry from the polished, formulaic, and generally diluted music they've been producing lately. -@CAT5 LOSTAGE DRAMA Just a year after LOSTAGE dropped the classic PLAY WITH ISOLATION, they returned again with this spectacular release. DRAMA took all of the emo-tinged indie rock of the previous album, but accentuated it with hard rock elements which resulted in a fresh and powerful new sound for the band. In fact, you could argue that this is the album that set the tone for the rest of the their career, as the style they crafted here is one that they've continued to hone throughout every album since. Truly a highlight in LOSTAGE's discography and the year 2007 alike. -@CAT5 MERRY M.E.R.R.Y. After ten years, M.E.R.R.Y. still remains as one of MERRY's most memorable albums due to the band's versatile sound, which consisted of distorted punk rock with jazzy elements, groovy melodies, and some tender ballads. The singles included are "Blind Romance", "Saihate no Parade (最果てのパレード)", and the tender "Komorebi ga Boku o Sagashi Teru (木洩れ日が僕を探してる・・・)", which all remain as fan-favorite tracks today. In fact, 2007 was around the time of MERRY's prime, as the band had already been signed with major label Victor Entertainment for 2 years, and they had already performed overseas for the first time a few months prior to the album's release. Personally, the album has some of my favorite MERRY tracks ever, including "Utagoe Kissa 『MODERN』 (歌声喫茶『モダン』)", the catchy and melodic "Hirahira Tonderu. (ひらひらとんでる。)" (whose PV was directed by FULL of GUNIW TOOLS), and dat sweet bass solo at the start of "Coq d'or mama (コックドール・ママ)". -@suji nayuta solar ribbon・solar children Never heard of this band? No worries - most people hadn't heard of this band ten years ago either! In fact, nayuta is so obscure that only some of the most hardcore J-indie enthusiasts that I know have come across them, as this album wasn't released widely and almost no information can be found on it today. Still, despite their stature, nayuta has to be one of the best kept secrets of the J-indie scene, and this album is one of the best that you've never heard. On Myspace (yes, Myspace was still a thing in 07), they used to describe themselves as 'Underground hardcore parade music', and while that's actually pretty apt in a weird way, it doesn't do them justice. There's a definitely a hardcore element to their music, which is further emphasized by the rough and noisy production quality, but the band makes creative use of melody while maintaining the beauty of it. Add in some sublime male/female vocals and you have a sound that's as chaotic as it is charming. solar ribbon・solar children may be a hidden gem, but it's well worth excavating to wrap your ears around. -@CAT5 OGRE YOU ASSHOLE AlphaBeta vs. Lambda If bands like Ling tosite sigure and 9mm Parabellum Bullet were dominating the aggressive side of Japanese indie in 2007, then on the opposite end of the spectrum, OGRE YOU ASSHOLE were the kings of slacker rock. The band already an album and a mini-album under their belts at the time, but Alpha Beta vs. Lambda truly solidified them as an indie rock force to be reckoned with. Characterized by laid-back grooves, smooth vocals, colorful riffs, and tight instrumentation, OYA carved out a delightful sound on this album that many younger bands like mitsume and siamese cats have aimed at, yet have never quite been able to hit. Hell, even the band themselves have never been able to live up to the sound they established here - and they've released eight albums since! -@CAT5 Plastic Tree Nega to Poji 2007 marked the 10th anniversary since Plastic Tree's major debut, and to pay all their efforts for making it that far, they decided to release the groundbreaking and jaw dropping album that is Nega to Poji. It was a major turning point for Plastic Tree, throwing away the old and bringing out new ideas. Nega to Poji as a whole laid out such a unique charm that if you listened to one song out of the album context you'd instantly recognize the Nega to Poji sound; the dreaminess, the grungy guitars, and Ryutaro's less childish to mesmerizing vocals. Honestly, there really is no bad track on the album as they all give it a perfect balance, except for old, but newer versions of tracks like "Spica", "Makka na Ito", and "hate red, dip it", that might feel like extras to some. I do admit however, that the new "hate red, dip it (loudest sound version)" flows well with the rest of the album. You've got the dreamy "Nemureru Mori" as a tranquil start, the pumping "Fujunbutsu" and "Elegy" to amp up the noise and energy, the heavy "Sabbath", which is possibly their heaviest track other than "Ghost", some impressive drumming in the melancholic "Kuroi Kasa", and the beautiful and heartbreaking "Andro Metamorphose" that received huge debate for copying Mew's song "Comforting Sounds", yet is still loved by most, if not all pura fans. I remember playing this album on heavy rotation the day it released. It was one of the best things I heard at the time and is still an absolute favorite of mine, which I'm sure many fans can agree with as well. Hell, there's even a whole studio version of the album on DVD from the limited edition. -@plastic_rainbow RENTRER EN SOI The bottom of chaos It's not the album that springs to mind when I think of classics, but THE BOTTOM OF CHAOS is the album I think of when I think of Rentrer en Soi. The sound of a band successfully reinventing themselves to fit the hype sound of the time while still retaining their defining features and simultaneously progressing is as difficult to pull off as it is to describe, but for the most part THE BOTTOM OF CHAOS does this successfully. The album hasn't aged as well as I would have hoped - the production sounds thin, the growls are weak, and the best moments are segments of tracks spread over the whole affair rather than one or two solid songs - but when the entire package is this consistent it's still fun for a spin. Give this one a try if you want to know what fans a decade ago thought the tops in heavy music was. -@Zeus school food punishment air feel, color swim school food punishment debuted with their first mini-album school food is good food back in the spring of 2007, instantly turning heads as one of the new, promising indie bands on the block. Some people were even quick to compare them to Spangle call Lilli line - one of the most prominent female-fronted indie bands of the time. However, It wasn't until later that year with the release of this album that sfp really began to come into their own. The groovy, upbeat power-pop of the tracks like "you may crawl" and "art line" were basically the prototypes for what would become sfp's signature sound later on in their major label years. While the moody and dramatic "loop, share" was like a precursor to the band's 3rd mini-album Riff-rain, which came to be widely regarded as their best work when it dropped the next year. Still air feel, color swim is an important release that marks the development of a band that later grew to become iconic in their own right. -@CAT5 Shiina Ringo Heisei Fuzoku Shiina Ringo is a legendary figure in Japanese music, hands down. With her gigantic and diverse discography, it can be quite overwhelming to start digging in. While I started with her most famous albums 勝訴ストリップ (Shouso Strip) and 加爾基 精液 栗ノ花 (Kalk Semen Chestnut Flower), I wasn't officially 'sold' on her until heisei fuuzoku. The album, which was arranged with the help of Neko Saito and served as a film OST, is a collection of self-covers and new tracks (like "Gamble"), all with a sumptuous orchestral/jazz/big band sound. The reinterpretation of "茎 (kuki)" as a sultry jazz number is particularly unreal. For anyone not quite ready for Shiina's pop-rock or more experimental side, heisei fuuzoku is another great entry point to her oeuvre. -@fitear1590 the GazettE STACKED RUBBISH 2007 might have been the last year I was flat-out head-over-heels in love with visual kei. Great albums and band debuts were happening left and right, its popularity was growing, bands were touring internationally, and people were still allowed to post fan-made content on YouTube (or am I the only one missing hilarious fanvids?). One of my most played albums that year, and probably my most played GazettE album ever, was STACKED RUBBISH. Not only did the singles leading up to the album kick ass, but just about every B-side from them was just as good in their own right, and it's no surprise some ended up making it to the final cut. The album enveloped the singles perfectly too, with just the right amount of variety between upbeat clap-alongs like "ガンジスに紅い薔薇(ganges ni akai bara)" and "SWALLOWTAIL ON THE DEATH VALLEY" and GazettE's classic, bitter aggression in tracks like "BURIAL APPLICANT", "MOB 136 BARS" and "CIRCLE OF SWINDLER". A light sprinkling of Ruki's new-found 'hip hop' influence also gave the album a dose of intrigue, as it opened with the questionably titled and unintentionally hilarious "ART DRAWN BY VOMIT" as well as the unforgettable did-he-really-just-say-fuckboy? engrish in "AGONY". Whether it's for a good laugh or a good headbang, STACKED RUBBISH's epic-ness needs to live on forever in VK infamy. Yes I did probably link the entire album, fight me. -@doombox Tokyo Jihen Variety Let's take a trip back to the past when Tokyo Jihen was saving jazz and Shiina Ringo was still relevant. Believe it or not, Tokyo Jihen's third full-length 娯楽(バラエティ), pronounced Goraku, turns ten this year! Feel old yet? I would consider 娯楽 to be the black sheep of their discography, mostly due to everyone but Ringo composing music for this release. 娯楽 includes seven tracks from guitarist Ukigumo, five tracks from keyboard player Ichiyo Izawa and one composed by bassist Seiji Kameda. Drummer Toshiki Hata was also asked to contribute, but he declined. There's nothing wrong with it, but when it comes time to name drop Tokyo Jihen tracks, my mind often does not wander here. 娯楽 is best known for lead singles "O.S.C.A." and "キラーチューン" (Killer-tune), and "金魚の箱" (Kingyo no Hako) which became the theme for the film 魍魎の匣 (Mouryou no Hako), but my personal favorite song is "黒猫道" (Kuroneko-do). It ended up selling 175,000 copies and was certified Gold by the RIAJ. -@Zeus trico MUSICS Sometimes brilliance goes overlooked because it's found in the most unexpected places, or in trico's case - a place that wasn't even on the radar for most. 2006 saw the release of the band's first album, but it was just humdrum enough to be negligible. They hadn't become a band that you'd hear readily flying off the lips of J-indie fans, so it made sense that Musics went by barely detected when it dropped the next year. I'm not sure what transpired in the time between these two releases, but trico had clearly become inspired in the interim. As opposed to downy, who were far left-field, and sleepy.ab, who were perhaps a bit too poppy, trico managed to hit the perfect stride of Radiohead-inspired rock, while also forging their own identity. With Musics, the band remained highly accessible while keeping things interesting. They took some interesting creative liberties, employing unusual sounds and subtly progressive arrangements, yet never became overly-experimental or self-indulgent. This was a short but fantastic mini-album, and it's a shame that this was trico's last proper release. I would have LOVED to hear what else they could have gone on to produce! -@CAT5 Versailles Lyrical Sympathy Many of these tracks have been revisited and re-recorded in many releases by Versailles, which should indicate just how influential this release is. The Revenant Choir was the first release, but Lyrical Sympathy is what opened the door and introduced the band to the world. Classics such as "The Love from a Dead Orchestra" and "Sympathia" are among many fan favorites, and it's always refreshing to hear a power-metal band take a few trends and buck them. Actually, there are only one or two tracks here which haven't made a reappearance because they've even recycled the intro track! A decade ago when I first stumbled across Versailles, I never thought I'd have the opportunity to see them grow and come this far. Lyrical Sympathy holds up if you approach it from an ideas perspective, but as far as execution goes it's a diamond in the rough that I enjoy with the thickest rose-tinted glasses I can find. -@Zeus - Liked our list? Disagree with our list? Did we miss anything? Feel free to leave your comments below, let us know what you think, and let us know what albums you found remarkable that have turned 10 this year!
  2. As we celebrate Monochrome Heaven's 10th anniversary, ORZ will take a moment to reflect on the last decade. One thing we all have in common is that Monochrome Heaven was instrumental in helping us shape our tastes, so we're going to share with you some vocalists we really like. These aren't necessarily the best vocalists per se, but they are ones that we enjoy and that we hope you will too! 郁磨 (Ikuma) Years active: 2005 to present Notable bands: アンド (And) and REIGN 壱-hajime- Years active: 2005-present Notable bands: TRIGGAH, THE GLADROW, 壱-hajime- solo project Ryuga Years Active: 2008 to present Notable bands: Sel'm 一葵 (Kazuki) Years Active: 2012 - Present Notable Bands: Belmosaic, ザアザア (XAA-XAA) YUKI Years Active: 2007 - Present Notable Bands: Mix Speaker's, Inc., リライゾ (Liraizo) 芥 (Akuta) Years Active: 2008 - Present Notable Bands: Administrator, Chanty Ryoga Years Active: 2006 - Present Notable Bands: BORN, RAZOR Thanks for reading and feel free to share yours too! (Please put all videos in spoilers so the page doesn't slow to a crawl)
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