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. Continue reading
Cast your mind back thirty years to the late 80s where hard rock was in full swing. Def Leppard in the UK at the peak of their career after the release of their seminal release Hysteria and over in the states, Guns N Roses were selling out stadiums across the globe. However, in the western world, there’s one band from that era that go somewhat underlooked compared to their peers: X Japan. On April 21st, 1989 the band released Blue Blood (originally titled, X) (CBS/Sony), the album that led them to become one of Japan’s biggest bands. Continue reading
Celebrated composer and musician Yoshiki (X Japan)will compose music for the soundtrack to the next installment of the xXx movie franchise, xXx 4, contributing the films’ main theme song. xXx 4 is in pre-production with casting currently underway, and principal photography set to commence this year. In addition, The H Collective has invested in its first animated feature, Spycies, an action spy comedy produced by Chinese entertainment giant iQiyi. Yoshiki will be working on the theme song and music for the feature which has been animated in France by Lux Populi Production. Spycies will be released in theatres across China on August 8th, 2019. Continue reading
This fall X Japan was to play three sold-out nights in their homeland. Sadly, the third night was abruptly canceled due to the impending weather effects of Typhoon Trami. With concern for the safety of fans as their top priority, X Japan performed an unprecedented large-scale “closed-door concert” with complete stage effects and crew which was broadcast to an audience of over 1 million viewers. The No Audience concert is now being released and you can watch the teaser trailer, shared by Yoshiki on his YouTube channel right now and order it below!
Yoshiki (X Japan) will stream one of his sold-out his upcoming concert this week on November 15th live on YouTube. The sold-out Yoshiki Classical 2018 concert features special guests Sarah Brightman and HYDE. There is a show tomorrow on the 12th as well. Continue reading
As previously reported, Marilyn Manson was a guest on stage at X-Japan’s second-weekend headline appearance at Coachella 2018. Joining X-Japan frontman Yoshiki at the piano, the duo performed Manson’s legendary version of 1980s classic ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’, by Eurythmics. Watch it below! Continue reading
Legendary visual kei rock band X-Japan will make their Coachella debut tonight, headlining the Mojave stage at 11:10 PM. As one of the only hard rock acts of the weekend, the band is likely to make a strong impact on festival goers with their amazing show. The bands 10-year reunion concerts just wrapped April 10 and 11 at Zepp DiverCity in Tokyo, warming up for the band’s debut performance at Coachella tonight, April 14. Richard Fortus of Guns N’ Roses, Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit, and Miya from MUCC joined the stage as special guests, adding more speculation about who might join X JAPAN on stage at their Coachella performances. Stream the performance tonight at the link below. Continue reading
Legendary band X Japan have released the soundtrack to their 2016 film We Are X, releasing on Blu-Ray and DVD this May from (Music For Nations/Sony). Continue reading
Confession time. Up until two days ago when my editor sent me this assignment I had never heard of Crossfaith. So yeah, for a band that has been kicking since 2006 and consistently on tour it took me until their fourth LP Xeno (Razor & Tie) to acknowledge their existence. I am the definition of timeliness.
Anyways, during my lunch break I browsed the web out of boredom and realized that Crossfaith’s sound has been described as renown for combining metalcore and electronic dance music. Naturally when reading that combination of genres the first thing that comes to mind is “I’ve died and gone to hell.” Immediate visions of laptopcore bands like The Browning and Blood on the Dance Floor flooded the brain. Fuck me.
But don’t knock it till you try it, or at least that’s what the girl as the grocery store seems to always tell me. Look at the bright side, Crossfaith is from Osaka, Japan and the land of the rising son has fostered plenty of eclectic and talented metal bands such as X-Japan, Dir en Grey, and Maximum the Hormone. Just press play.
You only get one chance to make a first impression and Crossfaith for the most part hits the mark. Instead of the Hot Topic goth dance party I was dreading the music on Xeno was actually listenable. Multifarious to a fault, but still listenable. Pretty good, actually. However if you are looking for some dance party action then check out ‘Wildfire’ (featuring Skindred’s Benji Webbe) and it’s unholy matrimony of EDM and Reggae. And I can say with no shame that I blasted it out loud in my car.
That being said the tunes here are more in line with Slipknot, mid-career Soilwork and even some Linkin Park for good measure. Frontman Kenta “Ken” Koie leans more on his singing voice on this effort and it helps elevate songs like ‘Raise Your Voice,’ ‘Devil’s Party’ and the excellent title track to radio rock anthem status. In addition to Koie’s strong performance, much attention should also be paid to drummer Tatsuya Amano’s frantic bursts of aggression and producer Josh Wilbur’s (Avenged Sevenfold, Lamb of God) masterful work behind the studio board.
The one moment on Xeno that lost me was power ballad ‘Tears Fall.’ It’s an excellent showcase for Koie’s pipes and it does feature a tuneful solo from guitarist Kazuki Takemura, but it’s way too sappy to fully take seriously. So much so that you could sell it for parts to Bullet for My Valentine. While that gamble doesn’t pay off, Crossfaith pick up the pace again with ‘Paint it Black’ and the drumming showcase that is ‘Vanguard.’ But before the album comes to a close these Osaka natives get a another chance to play with dynamics and texture on ‘Calm the Store’ a melodic track that is much more in line with the aforementioned Linkin Park or Dead Letter Circus.
I feel slightly less hesitant about the melding of electronics and metalcore. Slightly. You done good, Crossfaith.
X Japan are, without a doubt, Japan’s most enduring and influential rock band. And yes, even though they are, by the by, a Metal band, their sound, their aura, and their tendency to do it big and loud, is very much based in the kind of spectacle rock at its finest is supposed to create. Taking on Madison Square Garden was the band’s dream concert since they began to see their dedication turn into liquid success shortly before the untimely death of guitarist Hide, who is, in spirit, still considered by fans and the band to be part of the action.
Untold amounts of anticipation could be sensed around the venue, sitting atop the historic Penn Station in the center of New York. Fans milled around, periodically erupting into the signature call-and-response warcry of “We Are! X!”, and judging by how much X Japan merch and hide/80s Toshi cosplay was to be seen, nobody cared about being ‘that guy’. To date, Iron Maiden or Kiss can get away with that, is how huge X Japan is as a force of rock history. With every minute that wasn’t 8:00 pm Eastern time, I swear my heart crept closer to my throat as the symphonic rendition of ‘Amethyst’ played over the speaker. Upon the fateful hour’s arrival, the grandfathers of J-Rock themselves stepped onstage, glorious as they ever have been, kicking off with a one-two hit of ‘Jade’ and ‘Rusty Nail’, pyrotechnics included, mercilessly hooking the already engaged audience with the mighty power metal number ‘Silent Jealousy’, which certainly got heads banging vigorously as Madison Square Garden has probably never seen.
Following a new song entitled ‘Beneath The Skin’ from an upcoming album -which I’m sure will be off the charts- entertaining guitar/bass duel where Pata and Heath demonstrated the chemistry that enables them to time and time again wow the general populace of the world with both spur-of-the-moment innovation and precision mastery. Loosing the more standard hard rock number ‘Drain’ before an epic violin solo by Sugizo, the time was ripe for ‘Kurenai’, a piece as invigoratingly metal as it is tastefully composed. Another new song, ‘Hero’, had Toshi inviting the audience -and Yoshiki too, but he said “No fuckin’ way”- to sing along with the chorus, complete with words on the screen. The guys in X Japan are nothing if not interactive. After the appropriately titled ‘Born to be Free’, the band takes a well-earned intermission while Yoshiki, composer extraordinaire, took the stage hitoride to grace us with a piano solo featuring Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’, and even ‘Star Spangled Banner’ made an appearance at one point too. So meaningful was this concert to the band, and just being able to finally give American fans the show they were waiting for, it was impossible to see this as hackneyed in the slightest, and I’m unpatriotic almost to the point of treason sometimes.
Yoshiki’s mindblowing drum solo, complete with symphonic backing, was a whole show in and of itself. Reaching and maintaining heights of climactic power I could have never imagined while his drumset hovered about on a glittering platform, and select wristbands throughout the audience did the same, it was a testament to the amount of time the band has spent in perfecting their art. Speaking of art, I cried at last when, after a moment to let Yoshiki cool down after his time as a comet, the band played ‘Forever Love’, displaying images of old concerts, them just hanging out, and enjoying all that rock allowed them to as the massively creative individuals they are. The real tearjerker was arguably Yoshiki’s telling the story of the band’s trials and struggles over the years, of his and Toshi’s nearly half-century of friendship, and their gratitude for having fans and professionals that cared enough to bring to life the event of which I type. Restarting the rock with their comeback song, ‘I.V.’, followed by the endlessly anthemic rager ‘X’, and plenty of throat-rending shouts of “We Are!” by Yoshiki, always to a louder and more impassioned response of “X!” from the crowd, they took leave of the stage once again, but no one was fooled. They still hadn’t played ‘Endless Rain’ or ‘Art of Life’ yet.
I’m sure you can fill in the blanks from here.
Ending with an acoustic version of ‘Forever Love’ over the speakers as the band pelted the audience with roses -to say nothing of the confetti, streamers, and fireworks- and Yoshiki’s body itself -they weren’t ready for that stagedive-, I was left in emotional rapture. I’d laughed, I’d cried, I’d screamed like a barbarian, I’d cried more, and I sure as hell cried a little more. Literally a once in a lifetime concert, among the best live music events I’ve witnessed, and, come to think of it, the only concert I feel funny about calling a ‘show’; it would seem blasphemous to ever think of X Japan as a gig I decided to see. It was more of a spiritual obligation. After all:
We are X.