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Was Not Expecting This - 95%

kgerych1995, April 26th, 2014

I had sort of laughed this band off as sort of a Japanese rip-off version of Guns 'N' Roses. Jesus Christ, just look at the promo photos of this band. They look like Enuff Z'Nuff from some sort of weird-assed fourth dimension! It was not until years later that I actually gave this band half a chance.

In what I would call X Japan's moment of glory, we are treated to 51 minutes of diversity. This album is what I want to call perfection, but that would be accomplished with the stroke of a single song two years later. This album has everything - speed metal, progressive metal, power metal, symphonic metal, glam metal, pop, and even some classical elements garnished on for good measure. What we get is one diverse album.

After two short classical piano intros, we are treated to what was my first exposure of X, "Silent Jealousy", which is one hot slab of metal. Everything is sharp and clear, unlike some of the muddiness on their previous outing. Yoshiki's drums ring out like a shotgun blast and Hide and Pata both utilize Maiden-influenced harmonies that make up this very intricate piece of music. My only issue, and this occurs throughout the album, is that the only thing Toshi usually sings in English is the choruses. The rest is all in Japanese, which I do not understand too much of. I can always translate the lyrics, but they never fit quite right.

"Miscast" is another great piece of metal. The song has that intensity, it has that groove, but it also has a popper hook with the sing-along choruses. Another track that does this very well is "Desperate Angel", which has that massive hook in the chorus, but the rest of the song is in a heavier mold, albeit with a bluesier tinge in the case of this song.

There are some more experimental moments such as the acoustic ballad "Voiceless Screaming" and "Joker", the first of which was penned by Taiji Sawada. It is a stark difference compared to the heavy material exhibited previously. This is a soft, almost melancholic ballad put in an awkward place to serve as sort of a "cool down". "Joker" on the other hand has a couple of hints of industrial to it, but it is not very recognizable apart from the casual listen.

The final track and what ties this album together in one beautiful package is the power ballad "Say Anything", which is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. It is so beautiful that even a grown man such as myself will pull his lighter out and weep at its sheer power. To really get the full idea, I translated the lyrics to English and figured out what I think this song is about. It is about a relationship crumbling apart and one side or the other will say anything, lies or not, to save the dying relationship. Some lines when translated into English almost make it sound like a suicide note, with lines such as:

Run away from reality, I've been crying in a dream
Frozen time makes me shiver
Building up my tainted memories
Until my sadness vanishes

You say anything, whatever you like to say to me
Say anything, you leave me out of your eyes
You say anything, all I can hear is a voice from within my dream
Say anything, you can dry my every tear

It is a beautiful song with a certain classical feel to some parts. It really makes for a hard listen sometimes, especially if it may evoke certain emotions, as it does for myself.

Overall, this album is a work of brilliance. There is not a bad song on here, only lyrics that I have to translate. The instrumentation is very tightly woven together and other elements such as pianos and orchestras tie it all together to make one very beautiful sonic masterpiece.