Sound — 7
This album is much heavier than most of its previous ones. It is still fairly commercial when you compare it with other J-rock bands like Dir En grey. The album has excellent instrumentation and harmony. Most notable is that in "Ophelia." It's not any typical rock piece, the piano figures highly and brings the song to appropriate climaxes. It sounds intense without being heavy. Other than that, there are standard rock pieces inside, "Killing Me" or "Existence." The solos (guitar) require average technique but they complement the song well. It has a certain ad hoc feel to it, but each note falls in the correct place. The riffs don't exactly figure highly, what makes this album stands out is its harmony and instrumentation. Their style is pretty understated, and their complexity lies in the more subtle portions of the song.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are in Japanese so I have little idea! However, english verses pepper the album, and I would say that they're passable. English is not Hyde's (the vocalist and songwriter) native language anyway. Hyde definitely has a voice of his own. His crescendoes figure highly as well as vocal strength. Though not as finessed as many '80s hair metal vocalists, what figures highly is his vocals' originality.
Overall Impression — 8
L'Arc En Ciel (and I guess every other band) are in their own ballpark and it'll not be useful to compare them with any other artist. Not too good pieces (in my opinion) are "Awake," "Lost Heaven," in a sense they're a little generic. And are more or less aimed at a general audience. To a lesser extent "As One" because it sounds a little like generic American nu-metal, hardcore. Even though I quite like it being the heaviest song within the album. I like the songwriting, the instrumentation etc. But overall, it's still quite a standard rock album, and doesn't break much new ground. That's the downside, I think. I would get the album again if its lost. One thing I like about it is how the band balances complexity, subtelity and accessibility into one album, something few have done.