urgey_rock, on may 15, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: What can I say about X Japan? Besides the fact that they are probably the most influential J Rock band of all time, and the fact that their music kicks more than enough ass, I could probably say a lot. But what of their most successful album of all time, Blue Blood? Well, there's still a lot to be said, but I'll just give you a good overview of what to expect. First off, if you don't know anything about X (their name before the release of "Art Of Life") let me be the one to tell you that their style is quite a mixture. They do songs that are included in genres like speed metal (especially their first album), ballads, progressive, opera-esque. And let me tell you that they have skills to back it all up. But you really have to listen to an assortment of their stuff to understand. Now, the reason this record did so well, in my opinion, is because it captures a little bit of all their styles into one. And if you are a first time listener, Blue Blood is an awesome place to start. Now, I will discuss each song, and give you a brief overview:
01. Prologue (World Anthem) - an epic instrumental track that really does feel a lot like an anthem. After the music has died down, a creepy voice starts to talk, preparing you for the title track.
02. Blue Blood - the tremendous title track is quite a staple in the whole X metal collection. This track is a must listen for any speed metal/thrash metal addict. At first, the quality of the track seems to be a bit of a drag, but that soon changes as you are taken into the very Egyptian Metal sound of this song. Like many X songs, the song has a bit of a soft break in the middle of it as well.
03. Week End - what can I say about "Week End?" They play it at almost all of their live shows, and is a huge fan favorite. Opening up with a sense of mystery, this track is a bit of a break from the rough edge of the previous track, as this track has more of a rock sound rather than a metal. Even if you can't understand what he's saying throughout the verses most of the time, the chorus is very recognizable. Although it sounds like "We Can" rather than "Weekend." Either way, this is one of the bands most popular rock tracks.
04. Easy Fight Rambling - this is definitely what I would call "bar music." It just has that feel about it. Basically, it sounds a bit like an '80s hair metal song. It's nothing too special, but then.
05. X - in the tradition of bands like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, X had a song named after them. I really like this song, because it's kind of just fun to listen to, especially if you see the audience in the Last Live concert. A very well put together metal song, with amazing work from all members. Yoshiki's drumming is immense during the chorus, Pata and Hide play amazing during the guitar solo, and Taiji's bass playing. Is always cool. Not to mention the incredible vocals by Toshi. I would recommend this to any first time X listener.
06. Endless Rain - this is probably X Japan's most popular ballad of all time (I don't know why, I like some of the one's from the album "Dahlia" better). My opinion aside, this ballad is still amazing. Basically, I used to hate really soft music. I preferred the harder stuff, with the occasional light rock in between. But never would I even think about listening to a ballad. X Japan is basically the band that changed all of that for me. This song is a piano driven masterpiece, and the chorus is almost all in english, so you can kind of be drawn into singing it (trust me it happens). And don't even get me started on the solo. Let me tell you, the solos from all of X Japan's ballads may not be at mach 12, but they sound so good with the rest of the music. Basically, any true X Japan fan will like this song, and I would recommend anybody to listen to it (even if you are a huge Gwar or Slayer fan).
07. Kurenai - although this track appeared on their first album. It, well, pretty much sucked on it. Nothing special then. But now, on this record. Oh my god. I might almost say this is my favorite of all of their harder material. From the beautiful clean, chorused guitar intro, to that amazing transition into the distortion. I can't even explain it. The transition to the distorted part is so damn clever. And then, you are drawn into the crazy speed metal section. The solo is very well coordinated. In fact, I downright love it, and then you are introduced to that awesome chorus. You have no idea what the hell he is saying (unless you speak japanese), but really, it doesn't matter, because it sounds so awesome. Just Listen to the whole thing, and see what I mean. Definately in the top 3 of my favorite tracks for this album.
08. Xclamation - another instrumental track, this starts out with fairly soft melodic stuff, and then out of nowhere (quite literally, there is no warning what'soever) the song changes. I won't ruin it for you, but I'll tell you that any bassist should listen to this song just for the one part.
09. Orgasm - now we come to orgasm. The begginning, sounds quite literally like Toshi is having an orgasm. Yeah. However, we are then introduced to a metal song that is another fan favorite. The drumming in some sections. I don't know, when I heard it for the first time. Well, it was fast. The solo is also a good listen for those of you who love the whole fast out of control thing. I dunno, it's not one of my personal favs, but I know a lot of people listen to it, so you might want to listen to it (it's not too long either. A short orgasm).
10. Celebration - another hair metal wannabe. I detest this song. But I know a lot of people like it. It's not that it's a bad song, but to me, it's kind of cliche. Listen to it, and decide for yourself. It's the only way to be sure.
11. Rose Of Pain - if you love metal. And I mean absolutely crave it, with organs and demonic and epic riffs. God, I don't even know how to say it. This, in my opinion, and many others, is X Japan's "metal song." It has the dark metal feel to it. It's almost 12:00 long. It has dual guitar solos. Must I go on? This song was definitely concocted for a metal audience. It opens up with dark organ playing, followed by the crashing of the other instruments. Then, we go through a series of acoustic playing, before going into the awesome riffs. Especially the one. It reminds me of like Hardcore Pirates Of The Caribbean or something. You can probably figure out what I'm talking about. I believe there are 2 guitar solos in the song (the second being my favorite). Basically, even if you aren't impressed with X Japan so far (and I can't see why not), and you are a true metalhead, listen to this song at least once. I can almost guarantee that you'll love it.
12. Unfinished - another track that makes a triumphant return from Vanishing Vision, only this time, Unfinished is finished! One of my favorites when it comes to their ballads, the piano work by Yoshiki is awesome. It opens up with Toshi singing solo. I love that part. And the rest of the song plays itself out quite nicely. Definitely one of their underrated ballads, and a great way to end off an amazing album.
Basically 10/10 as far as sound goes. They truly have an amazing style. // 10
Lyrics: Lyrics... Well, I am not one of the kinds who looks too deeply into the lyrics... But I know a lot of you are. Basically, the lyrics are engrish. That is to say, whatever lyrics are not in Japanese can be hard to tell over the singer's accent, although he still hides it well. But, if you get over the fact that you can't sing correctly to all of the parts of some of the songs, you will not be dissappointed. And besides, some of their songs are all English, so once you figure out what they are saying, it is fun to sing to their stuff. But as far as fitting the lyrics. Well, the lyrics fit the music perfectly, depending on the style of the song. Celebration's lyrics are obviously not as melodic as, say those of Unfinished, but that's comparing apples and oranges. The lyrics flow awesome with the music. Toshi? The singer? Well christ, I'd like to see a North American boy sing that high and still hold his head out in public! He's basically got what I like to call mad skillz (with a z) when it comes to his singing. On this album, the vocals are more raspy than their final album, Dahlia, but trust me. It works very well with the music, and he can go very high pitched. He's good. // 7
Overall Impression: If you've listened to any other J Rock band, their style came from X Japan. The only difference is that X is actually really good. If you love music, and I don't mean if you love listening to the radio or chillin' to Nelly Furtado, then you should definitely listen to this album. If you listen to music for the technical skills, for the awesome creativity, or just for the chance to hear something fresh for a change, then pick up this record. There's ballads for the softies, and metal for the. Metalheads. Just awesome stuff. You won't be dissappointed. Or if you are then. Whatever. This album is a chance for you to try something knew, that can really pay off. I give it a 9/10, only because my ass is covered if someone doesn't like it! // 9
DomiKko, on july 06, 2011 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: "Blue Blood" is X Japan's second studio album. It was this sound that gave them their well-earned fame, nearly a decade after Yoshiki and Toshi conceived the band. It begins with "Prologue", the "World Anthem" which serves as a satisfactory and fulfilling opening track. As X's sound is so varied, I don't feel that it does the rest of the album justice, and it seems to drag on a little; it could have easily been just as effective a minute shorter.
Next comes "Blue Blood", the album's title track, a roaring riff-filled thrash metal song, which really does it's best to drive home the sheer force of this band; and it does. The opening riffs are well-played, however, this is where the album's only major fault comes into play. The guitars are far too quiet. Yoshiki, being the producer for this album, mixed it, and it seems that, in this song, and various other parts of it, he has made the drums and the vocals too loud. Some of hide and Pata's best guitar work is obstructed by over-loud double bass drumming. Not to say that Yoshiki isn't a very talented drummer, but it's a pity that it's hard to hear some of the guitar work, especially when listening through headphones.
"Week End" comes next, and is vastly different from "Blue Blood". It's a lot slower, and the near-flawless guitar work really shows here. The sound is characteristic of a lot of metal that surfaced during the 90s. Following this is "Easy Flight Rambling", a song paying homage to their hair metal/glam visage. It is the only song credited to the whole band, and I think it works well.
After this, is, of course, "X". "X" is the fan's favourite song; while Art of Life (not covered in this review) is the bands signature song, "X" is just as much the signature song of all X Japan fans. I've experienced this live (in London). It's a song much better live than in the studio. It suffers again from Yoshiki's narcissistic mixing. The solo is a blazing, blistering lesson on how they did proper solos back in the day.
X, in terms of studio albums is almost unreviewable, because no matter what you say about it, there's no denying that in a mob of fans screaming "X!" at the band, it's an amazing experience.
"Endless Rain" is a ballad; X's signature ballad. Toshi shows us the versatility of his vocals here, able to switch to soft, melodic ballad singing, even if it is a little course. Yoshiki's piano work is graceful, and seemingly uncharacteristic of a man who spends most of the album trying to punish the drums as much as he can. The chorus is something memorized by any fan, and is catchy even for the casual listener.
"Kurenai" follows this. On the album, the into is comprised of a string section followed by a guitar with a chorus effect. This is replaced by a piano in the live version. Toshi's voice is again, softer and more melodic here, while maintaining it's course element. The song is supposed to be very dramatic and climactic and it would have been, however, the soft guitar intro is actually louder than the roaring metal part; this ruins the atmosphere a little, especially when I frantically scrabble to turn my ipod volume UP not down for the supposedly loud metal part.
"Xclamation" is a very progressive piece of music, and it's a nice little break from Toshi's vocals, which can get exhausting for a casual listener, as it's definitely an acquired taste. The second part also shows off Taiji's incredible skill playing all sorts of different styles on the bass, delivering a frantic, and bubble bass riff, played slap. I would have liked to hear this more than the heavy floor-toms which take over after a while, forcing it into the background, however, that could be my own bias as a bass player. I tend to draw parallels to Give me the Pleasure with this song, and I think this one is much more refined.
"Orgasm" is a typical thrash song, which is short lived, and re-awakens the listener after the lull of "Xclamation". The snare is WAY too loud into solo, but it's a good song. It does it's job, and does it well.
"Celebration"; it's hide's main composing contribution to "Blue Blood". It really drives home how versatile this band is, by showing a new, lighter sound, that was very briefly touched upon in "Week End". This will come to no surprise to anyone that's heard any of hide's solo work; I myself have wondered how he could have worked with X without being suffocated musically, as his style of composing is very different to Yoshiki's. I'm sure many people who appreciate X's thrash element will disagree but simply because it showcases their vast range of talent, "Celebration" is one of their best songs.
It also provides a somewhat lighter break before the final two songs of the album; "Rose Of Pain" and "Unfinished". The former is the album's epic, a 12 minute long monster that tries to end it with a bang. The guitar part in the beginning, after the somewhat ominous organ intro, is great next to Toshi's coarse vocals, he doesn't try to sing softly like in "Endless Rain" here, he simply goes for it. The song accomplishes it's apparent goal of being "epic" and it's length adds to that.
"Unfinished" is one of X's less-heard ballads, it seems to have been lost to the time it was born in; unlike "Week End", and "X", and "Endless Rain", it stayed right where it was, as the last track on an album written over 20 years ago.
Overall, one of the best ways to describe the sound of this album is more refined than "Vanishing Vision", and more coarse than "Jealousy". The songwriting is one of it's great strength, as is the skill of the musicians involved. Toshi's vocals are much clearer here, they're much better than in previous work, however, they aren't up to scratch, especially not compared with later work, or even "Jade", and "Born To Be Free", two modern songs where he is crystal clear. The album also suffered from Yoshiki's self-centred mixing choices. As a result, the sound of this album is awarded a 7 - It's good, it's worth listening to, but it's not yet the best they can produce. // 7
Lyrics: Most of the album is in Japanese; it's hard to review something written in a language I don't understand. However, from translations etc. The lyrics all seem to fit the themes of the songs, and Toshi pronounces well. Yoshiki seems to have tried to go for deep and meaningful where appropriate, and like in Celebration, lighthearted and apt where necessary. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and award this section with an 8. // 8
Overall Impression: This album, despite it's faults, paved the way for X to become a massive hit in Japan. Many western fans might be put off by the number of styles in one album, however, I think that that is part of it's strength, and it seems to not be such an uncommon occurrence in Japan. While not as refined as their later work, this laid the ground work for the rest of their career, and spawned several memorable hits in the meantime; hits that they still perform today.
The album gets a 9 from me, because of all it allowed them to accomplish and they way it fits together so well. While not perfect, it's definitely well on it's way! // 9