One of the best things about reviewing music, in my opinion, is having a music-savvy senior editor that encourages me to review music that is not in my wheelhouse. I have realized that if I was left to my own devices, I would likely stay in my little Heavy Metal utopia, reviewing only what I picked. I received the promo email from my editor about doing a review of Japanese act HYDE. Full disclosure, the only musical act I was familiar with from Japan was Babymetal. So, when I got the promo of HYDE’s new album, Anti, (UMG), I felt a tiny twinge of trepidation. After all, what do I know about Japanese music? Absolutely nada. How was I going to do a fair an accurate review of this music was my query. As soon as the first track off of Anti, started playing, all my fears of doing an inadequate review dissipated. The music that came pouring into my earbuds was the kind of music that bridges all humanity. HYDE’s music possesses a universal sound that almost any person can enjoy or relate to. On a personal note, I broke out in goosebumps from about 5 seconds into listening to the album, an involuntary reaction my body reserves for only the best soul touching music.
The album as a whole is a testament to Hyde’s musical longevity. Hyde: real name Hideto Takara has been a groundbreaking musical force for almost 30 years. The fact that he is consistently able to write and create music that is fresh, cohesive and relevant is a miraculous feat within itself. The pre-release I was sent did not have the tracks of the album in numerical order, ‘Set In Stone’ was actually the first song listed and the first one I listened to. A quick side note, generally an album’s track are organized in the order they should be listened to, as determined by the artist and producer of the album. So, listening to an album’s track out of sequence can alter the listeners overall take on an album. I was honestly caught by surprise by the delightfully dark tone of ‘Set In Stone’. HYDE’s delivery of the song lyrics absolutely paints a murky picture of unknown sinister things. HYDE could be reciting the alphabet in this track, and his vocal intonation would still be able to convey the song’s message. The next track listed was number 13 titled ‘Ordinary World’. I cannot put into worlds how genuinely full of joy I was when I realized I was listening to a magnificent cover of the Duran Duran song, ‘Ordinary World’. I sincerely hope that Simon Le Bon and his bandmates hear this cover.
The next couple tracks, ‘Two Faces’ and ‘Midnight Celebration’ kept the feel of the album on the fringe of dark and dreamy. The tenth track, ‘Lion’ immediately changed the vibe I was getting from the album. This track is enjoyable Pop- Rockish, with infectious hooky guitar riffs, and a Punk Rock vibe. I generally do not mention each track on an album in my review. I pick out a few noteworthy songs to focus on and go from there. The next track listed after ‘Lion’ is a noteworthy song, to say the least. Track 8,’ Zipang’ (feat. YOSHIKI of X Japan),in a word, is epic. Full of robust melodic pageantry, and beautifully crafted lyrics, this track is emotion invoking.
‘Out’ is a rally song, a get-up and fight song, a going 65 in a 45 mph speed zone song. I think you get what I am trying to describe. Track two, ‘Mad Qualia’, six, ‘After Light’ and the third track, ‘Sick’ (featuring Matt B. of From Ashes to New fame) continue on with a forward aggressive message.
The title track,’ Who’s Gonna Save Us’, exudes the pure essence of HYDE’s message through music, we need to pay attention, simply put. Track four, ‘Another Moment’ and the fifth track, ‘Fake Divine’ both share Techno-Popish Industrial Metal infused characteristics but each maintains its own voice. Lyrically the songs are created as different as night and day.
Color me impressed, ladies and gentlemen. I stand before you a humbled Skullgurl. I embarked on this album review harboring preconceived notions of what I thought an album from a Japanese artist should sound like. From this day forward, I will no longer preface my description of HYDE by using the word Japanese. HYDE is simply a very gifted musician, and this album, Anti is a musical work of art.
7 / 10