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Jealousy is a somewhat bewildering album. Like its predecessor, Blue Blood, it lies just below the next level of greatness. Being that so much of it is vintage X Japan, it should be a classic of the highest order. Unfortunately, even though it's still a really good release, that's just not the case. I think that has most to do with the intangibles and not the actual material. The album lacks (for the most part) the energy and intensity of its predecessors. I can take things a shade lighter, but that's not really the issue here; it's more of a feeling the band gives off. Every time you think Jealousy is getting on a hot streak, a sour part takes you right out of it. The song "Desperate Angel" certainly doesn't help, either. It's a pathetic glam song that reeks of American money-grubbing, and the only X Japan song I'd dare call bad. Just press skip.
Don't dwell on it, though; the rest of this release is crawling with great tracks. After a cool piano intro, "Silent Jealousy" rocks on with a trademark X opener: speed, a soaring vocal performance from Toshi, and a surgically striking rhythm. Next we get one of the best heavy songs the band has ever done: "Miscast." It's a simple stereo rocker set on destroying everything; and I know I always make a generic comment about how great their choruses are, but words truly can't describe them. What follows up these two brilliant tracks? That abysmal one we discussed earlier. Just take the advice I gave at the end of the previous paragraph. "White Wind from Mr. Martin" follows, which is basically a filler acoustic instrumental. At least it isn't too long.
Now we arrive at the heart of the matter. "Voiceless Screams" is the first of two masterful ballads included on this release. It's strange how all of X Japan's ballads share close similarities but each one ends up sounding so fresh and enjoyable. They don't get old, and I'd swear they have an endless supply of these things. All of a sudden, "Stab Me in the Back" takes a turn for the heavy. The thrashiest song X Japan has ever written, it's also just a fun romp. "Love Replica" is like "Give Me the Pleasure" from Vanishing Vision; a zany instrumental with some spoken word samples underneath. It's an aquired taste, that's for sure, but I like it nonetheless. "Joker" is sort of a lesser track, relying too much on its glam sensibilities. Some quality hooks make it decent overall, though, and it never approaches being bad. X Japan saved the best for last, however. "Say Anything" (great movie, by the way) is a ballad made beautiful by its moving orchestration. This could have been on Dahlia.
The production values have taken a drastic leap forward. There's nothing raw or dry about X Japan's sound here, improving Jealousy's ease of use. I've certainly heard far worse efforts from 80's bands moving into the bleak musical landscape of the nineties (Crimson Glory's Strange and Beautiful from the same year, for example). Jealousy never really disappoints; it just regresses on a very small scale. It's a testament to how stellar your band's discography must be when this is your worst album. My recommendation for Blue Blood still applies: fans of any style of 80's metal can find something to like here, even though it's their least consistent effort. Just chalk it up as a closer victory than we might have liked; it's no blowout, but a win is a win.