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Naive, but entertaining Japanese metal - 80%

Agonymph, November 20th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1989, CD, Extasy Records Japan

For a band that would be all over the place stylistically, X Japan – still just X at the time – debuted with a surprisingly metal oriented effort. All the idiosyncrasies that would later make them one of Japan’s biggest bands are here – not in the last place their over-the-top image – but it’s easily their heaviest output yet. A poor sound that is especially unforgiving towards the guitars may soften its impact, but it’s a record full of excellent riffs, triumphant twin guitar leads, rolling drums and exciting songwriting. And a record that resonated with an audience; ‘Vanishing Vision’ outsold any indie record at the time.

Somewhat of a victim of circumstance, ‘Vanishing Vision’ has a few flaws that it couldn’t have helped at the time. As stated before, it would have benefited from a better sound, but the band wasn’t quite working with the budgets they’d have later. I disagree with the criticism on the production of ‘Blue Blood’, but the popular opinion is definitely the true one. Besides that, there are three excellent songs here that would eventually be reworked into something even better. The only thing they may have been able to prevent is the fact that the original A-side is notably stronger than its B-side.

Those who followed the band for a while may be surprised by the large number of contributions by bassist Taiji. Drummer and pianist Yoshiki is traditionally the man who carries the majority of the weight in the songwriting department, but both sides of the record kick off with an excellent Taiji composition; ‘Dear Loser’ is an excellent intro and moodsetter with a perfect build-up in tension and the slap-heavy instrumental ‘Give Me The Pleasure’, which he wrote with guitarist Hide, is the album’s most delightfully weird tune. ‘Phantom Of Guilt’ is classy, mid-tempo heavy metal with huge riffs and an interesting interaction between clean and distorted guitars.

Furthermore, there is excellent speed metal (‘Vanishing Love’, ‘I’ll Kill You’), Hide’s trademark sound on the border between hardrock and heavy metal (‘Sadistic Desire’) and epic power metal (‘Kurenai’). That’s also where the problem lies; ‘Kurenai’ is excellent, but if you have heard the cleaner, more bombastic version on ‘Blue Blood’, this one is a slight letdown. The same goes for the closing track ‘Un-Finished…’, which would ironically appear in its finished state on ‘Blue Blood’ and turn out to be X’s most profoundly sad, beautiful piano ballad.

A work in progress? Maybe. X would find its definitive form on the following record ‘Blue Blood’, but ‘Vanishing Vision’ is still a debut to be proud of. Its somewhat naive nature is one of its main merits; it influenced a certain reckless mindset when it comes to throwing all these styles together. Surprisingly, the result is more focused than ‘Jealousy’ would be three years later. The album is pretty much a highly entertaining listen all the way through – except for maybe ‘Alive’, which doesn’t have enough going for its eight minutes – and strongly recommended to fans of eighties power and speed metal.

Recommended tracks: ‘I’ll Kill You’, ‘Sadistic Desire’, ‘Vanishing Vision’

Originally written for my Kevy Metal weblog

And So It Begins... - 90%

MHLUNA24, August 9th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1988, 12" vinyl, Extasy Records Japan

Taking a look at this cover, you might be thinking: "Is this the same X who recorded songs like 'Tears' and 'Say Anything'!?". Well, yes it is. You see, years ago they were as metal as bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Loudness (the latter also hailing from Japan). Having spent years on the indie scene and going through many guitarists and bassists, they finally settled on hide, Pata and Taiji, thereby becoming a quintet as opposed to the quartet they'd always been beforehand.

The band had taken on a much heavier sound here. They're borderline thrash, in fact. This may have come from the involvement of hide. Prior to this he'd been in a band called Yokosuka Saber Tiger (a band whose very existence would've been forgotten were it not for him) who specialized in fast, gritty and aggressive music like this. I imagine Yoshiki heard this and decided he wanted X to have this sound too.

This album is also their darkest, by far. "Dear Loser", despite having a name that wouldn't be too out of place in the Ramones' catalog, sounds like the ominous music that would play when Satan rises up from Hell (it even has some creepy chanting in it). Other songs like "Sadistic Desire" (a relic from hide's Saber Tiger days where it was called 'Sadistic Emotion") actually sound very Venom-esque with its low-tuned guitars and basic rhythm. It's also very catchy and you'll probably find yourself humming along to the chorus.

There's a good deal of diversity to be found in the songs on this album. The best example has to "Alive", which I believe to be the precursor to "Art Of Life". The piano playing from Yoshiki at the beginning is a surprising break from the hard rocking that we had heard before hand. It drags a little but still a very impressive track. "I'll Kill You" sounds very different from the earlier versions. Whereas they sounded like your average speed metal song, this one takes the heaviness factor to eleven. Toshi sounds genuinely intimidating with his singing here. Sounding less like a simply pissed off man and more like an axe-wielding maniac, screaming the song title as if he's chasing whoever the person he's talking about is with said axe.

We have two songs that would actually reappear on their next album. "Kurenai" of course needs no introduction. It's much faster here than on the demo tapes. Most likely due to having two guitarists at the helm. Unlike the others, though, the lyrics are in English. Though, they're poorly written (due to Yoshiki's limited English at the time) and Toshi still sounds like he's singing in Japanese due to his very heavy accent. "Unfinished..." is exactly that. The full version would be released with "Blue Blood". This version, however, is much shorter and sounds different. We have synthesizers accompanying the piano and it just seems heavier overall. But, like "Kurenai", the lyrics make no sense due to the aforementioned language barrier.

Overall, I'd say this was an excellent outing for the new lineup. hide and Pata provide some excellent guitar work. And hide, a great singer in his own right, provides some nice backing vocals on "Vanishing Love" and a terrifying scream at the start of "Sadistic Desire". The only problems I have here are the production, which sounds very tinny with far too much reverb, and the fact that Taiji didn't really get a chance to stand out. But his time would come on their next album, which is even better than this!

Pathetic drag queens deliver cheesy eternal hymns - 85%

kluseba, August 6th, 2011

The five legendary musicians of X-Japan (two of them have died in rather strange and suicidal ways) deliver classic melodic heavy metal with somewhat cheesy, commercial and catchy choruses on their first output. Musically comparable to Western standards, it's especially the mostly Japanese lyrics and tragic high pitched vocals that add some Asian drama appeal to the sound. The energizing and emotional vocals by Toshi always fit and give the music an original brand. No matter if he performs on dynamic bangers as the title track "Vanishing Vision", on epic melodic songs like "Alive" or interesting half-ballads such as "Kurenai", he always hits the right tone for gripping and catchy parts and does a memorably outstanding job. The other musicians are less dominating but deliver nevertheless a great job. The drums are quite diversified and work well in the heavier tracks as well as the bass guitar. The two guitars are very melodic and remind a lot of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The pianos can add a commercial, an emotionally convincing or a truly epic note at times and are perfectly and not abusively used. They always fit perfectly with the dramatic vocals on this very professional and convincing debut record.

The right mixture of heavy metal verses and choruses with a lot of epic pop appeal characterize big parts of this album. This technique becomes already a brand of the band on their first record and works well in the melodic and danceable "Phantom Of Guilt", the heavier example "Sadistic Desire" or the epic highlight "Alive" that sounds like a mixture of Queen, Journey and Iron Maiden. While the interlude "Give Me The Pleasure" goes maybe even too far for open-minded experimental fans as it mixes funky bass lines with disco vibes and dark sound samples, the band proves also its capacity to write more simplistic short tracks like the fast "I'll kill you". Whatever they do, they do it with a lot of talent, professionalism and passion on this short but diversified record. They may not reinvent the genre and sound a little bit cheesy and pathetic in Western ears but they deserve to have the name of their country in their name and this album makes us understand why this band has such a legendary status today as their music may please to many fans of different genres while their mode style, their eccentric concerts and their lyrics have pioneered the Visual Kei movement. From that point of view, this record is a historically important record and was the beginning of something revolutionary. That's why one can not only consider the high musical quality itself and omit the artistic vision beneath those nine well done songs.

In the end, this record is convincing from a musical point of view. The band delivers diversified catchy melodic metal for the soft heartened among us. On the other side, they already create their own unique brand on this record and pioneered a whole new genre. That said, the songs are not always musically innovating or gripping and I would have liked to hear a couple of heavier tracks among the commercial ones as I like to have some meat with my cheese.

In the end, anybody that likes Japanese culture as well as perfectly executed and slightly pathetic or cheesy melodic hard rock and heavy metal must check this record out. Anybody that prefers some harder and more dynamic stuff should rather go for the Japanese colleagues of Loudness. Personally, I really like this album but it sometimes contains too much kitsch and sweet for me to be considered as the nearly perfect masterpiece that many fans claim it to be.

A raw metal force of mystique and artistic vision - 82%

Metal_Detector, July 4th, 2011

X Japan, one of the founding fathers of J-metal, also happens to be one of the better bands to ever play heavy metal. They mix styles to a degree of success most bands will never know. Throughout the years, the squad has morphed into and meddled in everything from speed and power to industrial and alternative elements; one thing has stayed constant, though, and that's X Japan's tendency to create material of the utmost quality. Even early on, their debut Vanishing Vision finds the band ruling in every category and at every position. This is a debut release that deserves to be among the ranks of Crimson Glory, The Warning, and Walls of Jericho. If those titles mean nothing to you, then you've either been living under a rock all these years or this simply isn't for you.

This is speed metal (nearly) at its best. Sure, there are elements of Euro power metal, straight traditional and some homeland eccentricity, but speed makes the bulk of it. Fast, over-the-top riffs and rhythms build up to some of the catchiest choruses ever crafted. All the while a very raw, perhaps apocalyptic mood hangs on it, thanks in no small part to its unpolished production. It's all very reminiscent of early Helloween, particularly the aforementioned Walls of Jericho. The leads blaze with a similar melodic intensity and Toshi sounds like a Japanese Kai Hansen, except with a slight touch more of clarity. His lyrics are understandably botched, however, leading to some rather embarrassing lines due to translation mistakes. This is a facet of the band that would improve as they gained a greater grasp of the English language.

Not a single track misses the mark. The album begins with intro Dear Loser, an awesome foreshadowing to the greatness to come. Vanishing Love wastes no time, getting to the point quickly with energy to spare. Simple savagery done right, but the best is yet to come. "Phantom of Guilt" is slower, allowing for some more melodic elements. Hide's creative guitar playing really shines through and creates one of the best songs here. But my favorite comes next in the surprisingly inventive "Sadistic Desire." The bass parts are technical and varied, eventually bursting into one of the best choruses I've ever heard. Pure genius. X Japan then stuns you with the bizarre "Give Me the Pleasure," which is basically a groovy bass-driven instrumental with some strange spoken-word parts buried beneath the mix. The track shows some jazzy technical proficiency and somehow fits in with the rest. "I'll Kill You" is a heavy, direct headbanger loaded with Hide's most impressive fret smokin' yet. "Alive" is a power ballad of sorts, with a little more "power" than "ballad." It's a good song, but it doesn't quite rival their later awe-inspiring ballads for which the band would become known. The album is rounded out with the speedy "Kurenai" (notable for being covered by Shaman recently) and the first variation of "Unfinished," a cool piano outro.

Even in the monstrous year of metal that was 1988, Vanishing Vision holds its own. This is superb album that's as artistically sharp-edged as it is a fun metal romp. There certainly wasn't a better speed album that year; it even bests Scanner's similar Hypertrace by a clean mile. If you seek metal in the vein of early Helloween, you couldn't find a better substitute than this, and I strongly recommend that any fan of fast melodic metal seek this album, however difficult a task that may be. For fans it's obviously a must-have, even if some of the band's signature balladry is missing at this point. What's best is that this is just a taste of the X Japan yet to to come. Enjoy, my friends.


We are X - 97%

kimiwind, March 31st, 2011
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Ho Son

What you will be going to listen here is one of the best heavy metal albums ever created. This is X Japan, the most famous band in Japan including those J Pop Dolls, and I’m no exaggerating. Everyone in Japan knows X, and more than the half of them fill the stadiums, the domes, and the theaters for the sake of attempting one of the most hilarious epic concerts in the world. However, X Japan’s first full length made the top sales among heavy metal records by that time. Vanishing Vision is the best album ever released by X Japan along with Blue Blood. Although, the production of this doesn’t match the greatness of the music itself, but still, it’s not bad at all. The most problematic thing in the production might be the final touch in the mixing process. The vocals sound quite up in the mix, towering the other instruments. Besides that, I can still hear the rest relatively well bar the guitars occasionally.

Anyway, what matters here is the musicianship. Vanishing Vision is a unique combination of speed metal and heavy metal with some thrashy elements. Every track has its own uniqueness. You will hear Toshi’s vocals standing as one of the best highlights in this release. Although he sings in a weak English with an accent, you will still love his tone nonetheless. The main chorus in Kurenai is one of the best I ever heard, it’s extremely catchy and you will be forced to bang your head as hell. In Give Me the Pleasure you can hear the demonic voice of Toshi including some weird background vocals. Toshi uses soaring tones combined with mid pitched vocals in most of the tracks, although they have that thrash feeling like in the track I’ll Kill You. The backing vocals have provided a huge support to Toshi’s show, they definitely enhanced the sound. The album title Vanishing Vision is a good example of what I’m saying.

If you don’t know Hide you must listen to this album. Hide is the main guitarist of X Japan, and he is the mastermind behind these killer riffs and bloody solos that will ebb and flow in your veins. You will be pleased to hear memorable riffs in almost each track, followed by lengthy solos. The riffs are as fast as the music, and the solo in Kurenai is without doubt one of the best that had ever come out off X Japan's music. Another thing that must be addressed is the massive support of Pata in rhythm guitar, I say it's almost perfect and fits well with what Hide delivers in each track. In the other hand, the acoustic guitar often breaks in and gives a lot of variation to the sound. The standout solos are the ones in Kurenai, Vanishing Vision, Phantom of Guilt and I’ll kill you.

Although you might think that the most famous, wealthy and adorable member of X Japan currently is Toshi, the vocalist. But you are wrong. It's the drummer and the keyboardist, Yoshiki. This man is charismatic and has a real big fan base in Japan and even outside of Japan, notably in the USA. And indeed, he deserves it. In this album he plays a big role in the advanced level of Vanishing Vision. This guy is a beast, playing those fast complex patterns and pounding those blast beats. He plays with heart and he shows off his skills brilliantly in this album. Kurenai is a remarkable song where he left a huge touch on its construction; Very fast patterns and furious beats along with one extraordinary percussion. Besides the drums you will enjoy nice piano melodies in the tracks Alive and Un-finished. It’s no surprise that he won the heart of millions across Japan and worldwide.

To every single fan of metal music, this is what you are looking for. This is the unique album that will change your mood from bad to good and from good to awesome. Eh, well I might be wrong, but you should try yourself then. This is an excellant release done by very talented musicians. It’s so sad that Hide left the world following his last live concert in 1997. The world certainly will miss such talent. Rest in Peace, Hide (1964-1998).

Written for Encyclopaedia Metallum 31-03-2011
© Kimiwind

One of the best bands ever! - 95%

TheOnlyMAD, November 25th, 2006

I would have given this album 100%, but I didn't because I thought that it was a little too much since nothing is perfect, but this album isnt far from it. I can't cope with the fact that this band is only well known in Japan (they are extremely famous there) because it is, in my opinion, one of the best bands ever and I'm sure that if they were well known all around the world, they would be even bigger than Iron Maiden. Vanishing Vision is their best album and one of the best albums ever. Period.

A lot of people have only heard the most recent X Japan songs and believe that the band is soft, but they couldn't be more wrong because the band used to be extremely fast, raw and heavy! This album sounds a lot like Walls Of Jericho from Helloween (in sound) and that's a good thing, its very fast and very catchy just like Walls Of Jericho and since I'm a die hard Helloween, 80's power and speed metal fan, I totally fell in love with it. Like I said, the music on this album is very fast and catchy, but that's not only it, its also very heavy, most of the riffs are fucking killer and heavy. The solos and harmonies sound great and Hide (he's very famous in Japan) is an awesome and unique guitarist. The drumming is very fast and you sometimes wonder how the drummer (Yoshiki Hayashi) can keep the pace. The bass sounds pretty technical, its rare that I care about the bass, but the bass on this album is great (mostly on Sadistic Desire), Taiji Sawada is a great bassist. The vocals are an acquired taste, I'm sure that a lot of people will hate them because of the japanese accent, but after a while, you get used to them, I used to hate them, but now I like them a lot and wouldn't change them. Toshimitsu "Toshi" Deyama is much better at singing ballads than heavy songs though (listen to Tears from Dahlia).

Now let's talk about the songs, my favorite ones are Kurenai, Sadistic Desire and I'll Kill You. Kurenai is considered to be X Japan's best song by many fans, its one of the best speed metal songs ever. A lot of people think that it sounds a lot like a song that Helloween could have written during the Walls Of Jericho era, it does, but it doesn't rip off any riff from Helloween, in fact, the only thing that it has in common with Helloween is that its as catchy as Helloween's catchiest songs and you know what? Its better than anything on Walls Of Jericho! Sadistic Desire is my favorite, the main riff is one of the best riffs that I've ever heard, its so heavy and catchy, but nowhere as catchy as the chorus, the chorus of this song blew me away with my first listen! I'll Kill You was my first X Japan song and let me tell you that it was enough to make me want to buy their entire discography, the pre-chorus is easily one of the catchiest things that I've ever heard in my life, its definitely the catchiest part of the entire album. The other songs are just as good.

Anyway, this album is essential and any fan of catchy speed metal will totally love it, no doubt. It just pisses me off that this band is not well known outside of Japan...

Killer songs: All of them!

Next album, Blue Blood, is also great but a bit different and more hard rockish.

Simply their best... - 90%

engineofhate, May 11th, 2006

I'd give this a higher rating if the production wasn't so absurdly horrible. I'm surprised no efforts have been made to remaster and re-release this either.

For metal fans, this is the X-Japan album to listen to. This album was on Yoshiki's own label due to their inability to sign with a major record label due to their music being too hard and aggressive at the time. He probably wanted the major record label deal really badly, because when you listen to the album, the vocals are high in the mix, but everything else seems as if it's kept as quietly in the background as possible. This is likely the case, because it doesn't get any better 10 years down the line for this band even when they're selling out stadiums.

The introductory track is decent, but it gets much better later on. All the songs have a quasi power/thrash metal feel, with the intense drumming giving the album the thrashyness. I can't comment much on the riffs because you can't hear most of it, but when you can, they're fantastic. I'll Kill You is easily their most killer song they've ever released, it's unrelenting in speed and aggression and would be a headbanger but again, the production ruins it.

Overall, the album ends on Kurenai, one of their most popular songs, although I'm not as fond of the verse and chorus melodies of this track as much as the others.
The musicianship is top notch, as seen on Give Me The Pleasure. Their bassist is probably one of the best in metal, but his brilliance is again, hindered by the production.

An acquired taste, but a great album nonetheless - 91%

Radius, July 6th, 2005

This was the first X-Japan album I ever heard, and I believe it was probably the best place for me to start considering how big the band became as they progressed over the next few years after this album's release.

Let me first say that X-Japan is an acquired taste, and there are many who will not appreciate the music here on account of Toshi's high-pitched vocals which are very common in Japanese 'visual' bands. Toshi's vocals are one of the reason I like this album so much, because it is something you do not hear in your Norwegian black metal. When I get tired of hearing that over and over again, I come to listen to X-Japan. If you can get past the vocals, you will get even more from this album, and X-Japan (And perhaps some of Japan's other great visual bands).

To make it easy on you, I will go through each track and how I felt about each one:

Dear Loser:
The first track is an instrumental track which gives off the feeling that an epic adventure is about to begin. It's not too long, and it is likely that you won't be listening to the album just to hear this song. X-Japan would also do something like this on their next album. There's nothing wrong with this song, but some will think that it is out of place here.

Vanishing Love:
This song begins immediately with Yoshiki pounding double bass into your ears with a fast riff, which may even get you banging your head...until Toshi's vocals come in. Those who are not used to hearing them in this style will have trouble with the song, but move past the vocals and you will find one of the best tracks on the album right here.

Phantom Of Guilt:
Slowing down from the second track, Phantom of Guilt begins with another great riff. The song also has some really great guitar solos and good vocals (Most of which are in Japanese) as well. While still great, it is also one of the less memorable tracks. The others seem to stick in your head more.

Sadistic Desire:
The fourth track begins with a loud scream and the song begins with one of the most memorable riffs on the album. The song also has a great chorus and an even better guitar solo. This is one of the most memorable tracks on the album, and will likely stick in your head after you are finished listening.

Give me the Pleasure:
Give me the Pleasure is definitely the strangest track on the album, consisting of mostly bass and drums, the strange part of the song is the vocals. A slowed down demonic voice can be heard screaming, along with the sound of screams in the background. There is also a great guitar solo in the middle as well. Unfortunately this song ends too fast, because I really liked this one. I'm going to guess that others won't agree with me on this one, though.

I'll Kill You:
This has got to be my favorite track on the album, mainly for the speed and chorus. The song begins with a loud "I'll Kill You!" from the band, and then breaks into double bass and guitar. The song is only about 3:30, but I enjoyed every second of it. From the vocals to the incredible guitar solo. This has got to be one of my favorite X-Japan songs.

Alive is the ballad of the album, something X-Japan would later become masters at creating on later albums. The song begins with Yoshiki playing a very meloncholy piano piece, which is then joined by guitar and vocals. The song maintains this feeling of sorrow for nearly the entire 8.5 minutes. There are also some incredible guitar solos in the song as well. While the song is still great, it is probably my least favorite track on the album. X-Japan would later create some incredible ballads which I like better than this one.

Kurenai (Deep Red):
I'd have to say that Kurenai is also my favorite track on the album, just because it feels so epic. It begins slow with guitar and vocals, but later breaks into this incredible riff which is also joined with incredible guitar solos and a great chorus. This song reappears on their second album with an orchestra, but I still prefer the original here. Also all of the vocals are in english, but it still sounds as if Toshi is singing in Japanese, but it does not harm the song one bit. Definitely one of X-Japan's best songs.

Un-finished is a mini ballad which plays in only about a 1:20, consisting of another meloncholy piano melody and drums (Along with a little synth). The song ends way too fast, almost as if it was cut off, but what is there is quite good. However, the song appears on their second album redone and longer and is the best version of the song. Really nothing too special, but it does have great piano.

So there's a breakdown of each track. I'm not too great at describing music. All I can say is that if you want something different, and are willing to try it out, you can't go wrong with X-Japan's Vanishing Vision album. It is easily one of the best of it's kind, from a band that left a huge mark in Japanese music history. If you like this album, you will most likely also like Blue Blood and Dahlia as well. Just remember that X-Japan is an acquired taste, it's not that they are bad, it is just not the kind of metal that many of you are used to hearing.