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This is Japan! - 80%

kluseba, October 24th, 2011

"Blue Blood" is often seen as one of the best and most consistent records of the eccentric, artistic and unique Japanese metal band X but I can't quite agree on that. Normally I like diversified and courageous records but this is an example for overwhelming creativity where a band put many old and new songs almost randomly together on a well filled full length release. This record delivers diversified instrumental tracks with sudden changes as "Xclamation", melodic speed metal killers like the title track "Blue Blood" and overlong hard rock ballads in the key of Guns 'N Roses, Scorpions or Poison such as "Endless Rain". A few new versions of tracks that have already been included on the first full length release such as a more developed version of the power ballads "Kurenai" and "Unfinished" help to create a high amount of confusion. Who put this together? We can’t even talk about a regular album as this record has a weird compilation feeling and nothing quite fits together. Japanese have a completely different open minded culture than we as Europeans or North Americans have and this weird potpourri marked the definite breakthrough of the most important Japanese metal band next to Loudness. There is a lot of soft rock cheese and pop sugar next to the initial metal elements within this poser record but it's nevertheless somewhat sympathetic.

There are many great tracks on the album without a doubt. Open minded speed metal fans will adore the straight opener "Blue Blood" after a short overture or the fast paced "Orgasm". Romantic hard rock posers will have wet dreams by listening to the emotional tearjerker "Endless Rain" or the new version of the strangely titled album closer "Unfinished". Catchy hard rock and commercially orientated heavy metal tracks like "Weekend" or "Celebration" could though even have played on Western radio stations back in the days even though singer Toshi has a very strong but charismatic accent. Next to short instrumental interludes such as "World Anthem", there are also epic twelve minute long hard rock anthems like the beautiful and romantic "Rose Of Pain". I'm pretty sure that any fan of any kind of rock music might find something appealing and addicting on this record but it's quite impossible to like several styles on the album or the entire record that requests a lot of open minded attention, time and patience. I have the feeling that the success of this record is based on the fact that it attracts a larger public and especially people who aren't normally listening to heavy metal music. While the band's first effort "Vanishing Vision" attracted a heavy, speed and thrash metal crowd, this second full length output also wants to please to young and beautiful women that listen to radio rock. This means a lot of groupies, a bigger fan basis and the creation of the foundations of the growing X Japan madness that somebody outside of Japan can't really understand. The reactions of the fans when the band decided to split or when guitar player hide died in strange circumstances and was buried next to a Buddhist temple not even a decade later are comparable to the crowd of young women of the Western civilization in front of The Beatles back in the days. X Japan are a phenomenon and their success is not only based on their eccentric and diversified music but on their fashion style, their pompous concerts and their charming and fresh attitude. These things are all reasons why this band got so big in Japan even though "Blue Blood" is such a strange if very interesting record.

That's why this record is undeniably a piece of Japanese culture and has way more than just a purely musical interest for me. It's not easy to get an approach to this diversified record but if you try it helps you understand the Japanese way of life. This is a better choice than any documentary movie, anime series or history lesson. This album is Japan and while it has things in common with Western bands, it's so unique that you can't just admire and analyze but not entirely feel it as the Japanese did when this record got its heroic breakthrough. A part of that, you have a potpourri of addicting styles and many catchy and solid tracks with solid instrumental performances and charismatic if unusual vocals. I really like this album but I'm simply not always in the mood to listen to it and that's why I can't talk about a consistent masterpiece. There are way too many unique but nevertheless strange flaws on this album that keep me from giving this an as fairly good note as I gave to the band's first strike "Vanishing Vision". But I must underline the unique state of art of this record that any fan of rock or metal music should give a fair try if he or she cares a little bit for foreign cultures. What a strange piece of music: you can't simply read about it, you should listen to it right now to understand!