The 13 Must-Have Japanese Rock and Metal Albums You Need to Know – Kerrang!
A story brimming with blood, phantasmal Gothic obscurity, irresistible flamboyance, anime magic and French baroque sumptuousness, Japanese rock has been dominated by an aesthetic as essential to its existence as the corpse is to black. metal. Contrary to stereotypical heavy metal sensibilities, the visual kei subculture flirts with color, sex and gender in a way very unique to Japan, with its cohorts choosing to change their look and style not only through albums, but often within the same disc.
But this kaleidoscopic view of an artist’s self is just the tip of the J-rock and metal iceberg. Here we present the 13 albums you need from the ever-changing Japanese scene – from its skyscraper hair origins to its planet-dominating present …
X Japan – Blue Blood (1989)
Thirty years later and still the embodiment of the crime of psychedelic violence of visual shock. Chiba’s outrageous use of metal Chiba in kabuki colors, leather and colossal hairstyles would have turned more than a few heads 1989 – a spectacle reinforced by the savage ferocity of their anthemic attack on heavy metals. A marriage of roses and viscera, tumultuous savagery and devastating beauty, Blue Blood was X Japan at its most dynamic and seductive – its desires at their most sadistic. Tokyo’s Dead End may have been the first, but with their second album, X has become the dominant force in Japanese music.
D’erlanger – Basil (1990)
Replace the speed metal sleaze for sullen post-punk shadows, with 1990 D’erlanger had joined the ranks of Buck Tick and Zi: Kill as forerunners of a new movement set to consume the following decade. A true embodiment of eroticism, Basilisk envelops undertones of Gothic euphoria of Joy Division, as singer Kyo draws his audience to a thrilling lair filled with obscure intrigue, entangling them in his David Sylvian-esque canvas until that they can no longer twist. These velvet hymns engulfed a generation with a burgeoning erogenous intensity the scene has rarely seen since.
Luna Sea – Mother (1994)
In J-rock circles, 1994 will be forever remembered as the year when visual kei erupted from its aphrodisiac nymph with ecstatic fervor. Alongside Tierra de L’Arc-en-Ciel, Mother achieved enormous success by mixing the gothic romanticism of past albums with radiant shine. Its rich sound dominates the vast spectrum of exuberant vitality at the heart of Luna Sea’s magnum opus with Rosier its emblematic hymn. Even at its most common level, Mother has proven that Japanese rock can revel in glorious heaviness.
Malice Mizer – Wonders (1998)
Before the baroque goth of Moi dix Moix, before singer Gackt became a superstar, this quintessential rococo ensemble embarked on a quest to rewrite the rulebook. A pioneer of the now archetypal union of classical European aesthetics with heavy metal, Malice Mizer transcended theatrical elegance, embracing an archaic piano and violin fanfare, culminating in symphonic ballads and more avant-garde pomp. heavy as everything on the air at the time. What the riffs lack, their highest record more than makes up for in lyrical grace and divine extravagance.
Dir en Gray – Vulgar (2003)
Perverse nightmare of sadomasochistic proportions, Vulgar is Dir in Gray (and Japanese metal) at their peak ero guro: a grotesque underground world so salacious that it would make the Cenobites jealous. A tome drenched in sinful odes, with darkness gushing from its arteries, Vulgar’s angst is best felt in its twisted heaviness, ripping out its cacophonies produced like chunks of his own flesh, filled with enough murderous grooves and riffs. desperate to keep the despair. living.
Psycho le Cému – Frontiers (2003)
Traversing the confines of an anime supernova, Frontiers de Psycho le Cému dared to embody multiple personalities, connecting the triumphant past of the stage with an uncertain future. Taking stylistic reinvention to new extremes, this oft-overlooked group has taken on a radical new look with each new single, molding what should be a blasphemous concoction of metal, rock, pop, psychedelia, EDM and hip-hop with contagious results.
MUCC – Kuchiki no Tou (2004)
Dripping with insatiable anguish and salivating their threat in the uncompromising tone of guitarist Miya, MUCC ripped their souls from their breasts with their fourth outing. A tour-de-force of melancholy without any excuse, Kuchiki no Tou drew on the inner darkness, determined to implode, and channeled it through Tatsurou’s tragically ravishing cries. An album of relentless catharsis, MUCC would later achieve international success with a more optimistic outlook, but rarely got past this emotional roller coaster.
EspairsRay – [Coll:set] (2005)
In the beginning 2000s, D’espairsRay’s [Coll:set] unleashed industrial metal carnage that Japan has yet to recreate. Accompanied by captivating melodies and monumental choruses like Tsuki no Kioku-Fallen, Garnet and Hai to Ame, with Hizumi’s striking voice – and a disturbing sense of dread – [Coll:set] caught the attention of the West as J-rock began to take over the world.
Nightmare – The Ruler of the World (2007)
Striking a delicate balance between sentimental harmony and electrifying power, Nightmare’s fourth album resembles a modern day mother, bleeding out the gothic majesty of Luna Sea with the perilous gloom and raucous punk of their contemporaries. It is therefore surely no coincidence that The World Ruler completed the meteoric success of TV Death Note series, like her debut single – The World / Alumina – opened and closed the show for 19 episodes. A record that embodied the perfect storm of the stage, that should have propelled the group into the stratosphere.
A cafe – Gokutama Rock Cafe (2008)
Back in the middle2000s, two groups were hot on everyone’s lips: Alice Nine and An Café. Love them or hate them, An Café has proven to be the perfect antidote to the gloomy malevolence of visual kei. The Harajuku dance rockers cultivated a mass oshare kei with their undeniably catchy music and brightly colored clothing, and, by the time of the release of their third album, began to climb the European charts. Ryuusei Rocket and Cherry Saku Yuki !! remain buckets of poppy fun to this day.
Versailles – Jubilee (2010)
Looks like they came straight out of an extravagant baroque ball, exhibiting their neo-classical symphonic metal with heartfelt regal, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Versailles for 18e century French aristocrats. Increasing royalty and grandeur on their second album, Kamijo and his nobles ascended the throne as maestros with odes worthy of a monarch, mischievously welcoming them to their vampiric masquerade.
The Gazette – Dogme (2015)
Choose Dogma rather than 2009‘s Dim, the definitive record in the arsenal of the group that shaped a generation? There’s a method for this madness, as The GazettE’s eighth release has not only dragged the world deeper into unseen darkness since their heyday, but served as an astonishing return to form. Dropping electronic alliances in favor of a menacing attack of brutality, Dogma claims some of the group’s most elaborate work to date, a reminder of their relevance as a new wave lurks in their shadows.
BABYMETAL – METAL RESISTANCE (2016)
If you honestly thought you could escape BABYMETAL on a list like this, you got it wrong. The idol troop has awakened the interior of the globe oni when they stormed the world stage with their eponymous debut in 2014, but it was METAL RESISTANCE – dominating the charts in a way that no other Japanese band has reached before or since – that has catapulted KOBAMETALset of intergalactic celebrity. A glove of crazy dance and neck-snap successes flourished in their pop-tastic heaviness, and even praised Herman Li and Sam Totman leading the way on their path to victory. With 2019of METAL GALAXY continuing their kawaii-metal conquest, the resistance is still in vain.
Posted on May 13, 2021, 2:00 p.m.