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Holy fucking speed metal Batman! This is THE X-Japan album, it's got epics, it's got ballads, it's got Fast-as-a-Shark SPEED FUCKIN' METAL!!! What more do you want from an album?
OK, I'll probably want better production and a better singer, I'd also want to do something about their ridiculous get-ups as well. Yeah they're visual kei, so what? As long as they play total Priest/Maiden-worship-meets-amphetamines they can dress up however they want! Though it probably looks ridiculous when they sing "Endless Rain" or their other ballads.
Kicking off with the sublime "World Anthem" the band already shows more feel than the latest in Euro flower metal. Beautiful is the only way to accurately describe it, and although it's more than 2 minutes long it does not feel boring or dragged on. Picture Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture meets Tipton/Downing or Murray/Smith and you'll get the idea. After that Toshi or Yoshiki says the little intro piece and BAM!!! Speed metal motherfucker! The absolutely monumental title track starts and at 210 bpm (a very rough estimate, mind you) they mean business. The intro riff-set is just plain ridiculous and the drums are flying like the wind. It's all awesome until...Toshi comes in. Okay so he's not a bad singer but he could still be better, his performance is alright and at least it's better than his live efforts. hide and Pata's leads are some of the best power metal leads outside of Hansen/Weikath.
Other highlights are the rollicking ode to Saturday and Sunday, "Week End," the incredibly-sappy-yet-thoroughly-enjoyable "Endless Rain," speed metal blitzkrieg "X," and "Kurenai." That last one starts off with some soft, symphonic piece before going faster than light.
The performance of the band is mostly great, the weak link being Toshi and sometimes Yoshiki because he's too fast...then again 'too fast my ass!' Toshi made me crack up during "Endless Rain," Engrish and love ballads do not mix. Taiji is really solid bass player, his skillful runs and fills pepper the album with personality and charm. Yoshiki's riffs (yeah he's the drummer, but he wrote all of the songs,) are harmonic, technical, and undeniably catchy...yet still 110% metal! I guess all those years of classical piano paid off then. Speaking of piano, Yoshiki's playing on "Endless Rain" and "Rose of Pain" is phenomenal. The guitarists are no slouch either, hide and Pata's solos are flashy but totally fits the context, not unlike Lee Altus or Michael Weikath, maybe throw in Tipton/Downing for a comparison of their harmony leads.
Production kinda blows, the vocals are turned way up and Toshi doesn't really deserve that kind of treatment. The drum sound is horrible, well maybe just the snare, it's a little grating at times also the drums are too loud, it pretty much buries the guitars and bass. The guitar sounds like it's being played on an amp with lousy distortion during the riffs, yet it sounds fantastic during solos and leads. The bass is quite clear but kinda difficult to hear thanks to a bang-up mixing job.
Overall this is a great album, one of the better things to come out of the gender-bending, hilariously-coiffed debacle known as visual kei and also one of the better things to come out of Japan in general. This is right up there with Fastkill's Infernal Thrashing Holocaust, Sex Machineguns' Live!! Final Attack at Budokan, Sigh's Hangman's Hymn, Priest in the East, and Made in Japan. Go and buy this, you'll not be disappointed