Par kluseba le 7 Février 2019 à 20:18
X Japan is a band like no other. The band combined punk aesthetics with speed metal musicianship and unusually emotional lyrics which led to the existence of the so-called Visual Kei genre. After growing in the underground for several years, the band rose to stardom in Japan in the late eighties. The group went on to integrate more and more elements of classical music in its sound and gradually focused on writing epic ballads throughout the nineties. The band attempted to conquer the international market but didn't have the self-confidence to release an entirely anglophone record. They were however considered highly influential stars in their home country, similar to what bands like Queen achieved in the Western world.
I'll Kill You (1985) / Line-up: Yoshiki (drums) / Toshi (vocals) / Terri (guitars) / Tomo (guitars) / Atsushi (bass)
What sets this band apart from many others is its share of tragic events. Band leader Yoshiki's father committed suicide without leaving any explanations behind when his son was only ten years old. This event would traumatize the brilliant but fragile band leader for the rest of his life. When the band reached its peak of success, influential bassist Taiji was fired under vague but emotional circumstances. Singer Toshi started to be manipulated by a sect his wife was a member of that declared X Japan's music devilish work that would harm the Japanese society and the singer decided to exit the group, leading to a shocking disbandment in 1997. Charismatic guitarist hide died under mysterious circumstances less than a year later, hanging himself with a towel hanging from a doorknob. Experts consider it a suicide while fans believe it was an accident. This event came close to a national tragedy as several fans committed suicide in similar ways. Former bassist Taiji would also end up committing suicide with a bed sheet in a prison cell after having been arrested following inappropriate behaviour on a flight in Japan.
Orgasm (1986) / Line-up: Yoshiki (drums) / Toshi (vocals) / Jun (guitars) / Hikaru (bass)
Despite all these hardships, the band reunited ten years after it had called it quits, willing to achieve international success this time. The band played numerous shows all around the world including a concert at legendary Madison Square Garden.
Vanishing Vision (1988) / Line-up: Yoshiki (drums) / Toshi (vocals) / hide (guitars) / Pata (guitars) / Taiji (bass) (CLASSIC LINE-UP)
This last event is the leitmotiv of this documentary as we witness the media work, band practices and the concert itself. Band leader Yoshiki is the key figure in this documentary and tells us his story and the one of X Japan in numerous flashbacks. Singer Toshi also opens about the time when he was brainwashed by his former wife. The other members sadly don't have much to add. Local and international supporters of the band tell some anecdotes from Yoshiki's mother over Gene Simmons to Stan Lee.
Blue Blood (1989) / Line-up: Yoshiki (drums) / Toshi (vocals) / hide (guitars) / Pata (guitars) / Taiji (bass) (CLASSIC LINE-UP)
The documentary manages to help X Japan rise to international acclaim. It captures the melodramatic essence of this innovative band. It's filled with amusing, curious and depressing anecdotes we won't forget.
Jealousy (1991) / Line-up: Yoshiki (drums) / Toshi (vocals) / hide (guitars) / Pata (guitars) / Taiji (bass) (CLASSIC LINE-UP)
The only negative elements are the facts that the documentary focuses too much on Yoshiki and not enough on the band X Japan and that the emotionally draining melodramatic anecdotes sometimes feel exhausting.
Art of Life (1993) / Line-up: Yoshiki (drums) / Toshi (vocals) / hide (guitars) / Pata (guitars) / Heath (bass)
Still, any music fan should watch this documentary, no matter if you usually listen to classical music, pop music or heavy metal. X Japan certainly is one of the most fascinating bands in the planet.
Dahlia (1996) / Line-up: Yoshiki (drums) / Toshi (vocals) / hide (guitars) / Pata (guitars) / Heath (bass)
Par kluseba le 31 Janvier 2019 à 15:49
Par kluseba le 28 Janvier 2019 à 02:39
More than thirty-two years after its historical genre-breaking debut record, Northern Haze finally managed to record an unexpected sophomore output. Many things have changed in between these two releases. Original bassist Elijah Kunnuk died of cancer, former singer and guitarist Kolitalik Inukshuk was murdered, the band split up for about ten years, reunited and became a quintet with the addition of not only a new bassist but also a keyboarder, guitarist James Ungalaq took over lead vocals and the quintet recorded ten songs in the dead of winter in Nunavut's capital Iqaluit. One should think that changes and time had a significant impact on the band sound but it turns out they hadn't.
Northern Haze's timeless mixture of blues rock, country rock, hard rock and heavy metal still sounds as warm, motivated and eclectic as it did more than three decades ago. The musicianship has improved slightly and the production sounds clear yet organic this time around but all other trademarks have remained the same as in the group's early years. The guitar riffs are still simple yet efficient. The guitar solos sound emotional rather than skilled. The steady rhythm section forms the solid backbone of the record without being particularly outstanding. The new lead vocalist sounds quite similar to the original singer and convinces with an energetic and melodic approach that blends in perfectly with the multitude of genres covered on this record. The songwriting is fluid, inspired and tight and can generally be described as the band's greatest strength.
The record includes numerous highlights. ''Inuk'' starts the record with a raw opening scream and then flirts with punk rock riffs to evolve into a rhythmic tune that invites to dance and jump around. The track somehow reminds me of energetic Japanese trio Ningen Isu.
''Angajusakuluk'' shows a completely different side and is deeply rooted in indigenous folk music with appeasing vocals, melodic guitar play and a festive atmosphere that should guarantee this song makes the playlist for any party in the Arctic Circle. This uplifting song could also be a Dropkick Murphys ballad.
''Tukisi'' starts as melancholic country ballad with expressive vocals that evolves into a dynamic traditional heavy metal tune. It showcases just two of the band's numerous soundscapes in a smooth transition which makes this song the greatest one on this output in my opinion. The transitional song writing makes me think of Blue Öyster Cult.
''Inuusivut II'' goes even further back to the band's own roots as it is the sequel to a song from the band's first album which combines melancholic vocal melodies with energetic hard rock riffs that end the record on a high note. The guitar solo is particularly noteworthy but the drums sound also more adventurous than usual.
It's stunning how Northern Maze managed to keep all the trademarks that made it so unique more than three decades ago and transported them into a completely different era without ever sounding old-fashioned. The Inuit quintet offers timeless rock music that borrows as much from country music as it does from punk rock and heavy blues rock. While metal purists might have trouble appreciating the record's stunning diversity, it's a particularly rewarding release for rock fans around the world since the ten tracks included here have a lot of replay value because they are filled with much creativity without ever missing the point. Northern Haze isn't just a great band because of its historical status but truly an outstanding rock band that is very enjoyable to listen to.
Final rating: 90%
Par kluseba le 28 Janvier 2019 à 01:04
Northern Haze was a quartet of Inuit musicians from the remote hamlet of Igloolik who had collaborated in various bands throughout the seventies before joining forces in Northern Haze. The band finished second in a talent show in Iqaluit but managed to attract enough attention to be given the chance to record its debut record in Ottawa just one year after its foundation. It took roughly another year for this debut album to see the light of day and the band played festivals in Yellowknife and Vancouver to support the release. This album is believed to be the first-ever indigenous-language rock album. The band made its dream come true with the release of this album but members of their community criticized the four young men for mixing traditional Inuit music and tales with contemporary Western music somewhere between heavy metal, hard rock and country music.
The most outstanding element about the album are the melodic vocals that are inspired by a cool rock and roll spirit. The energetic guitar solos vary between blues and hard rock genres and are performed with passion even though the skills are still fairly limited. The rhythm section is the steady backbone of the raw record. The four musicians were supported keyboarder Ed Simm and Randall Prescott on harmonica during the recording sessions and their instruments add even more diversity to an already interesting release.
Highlights on this passionate debut record are the short and heavy opener ''Qailaurit'' inspired by early doom and heavy metal, the vivid ''Puigo'' with its outstanding guitar solo and atmospheric keyboard layers, the only track with English lyrics entitled ''Trust'' that comes around as haunting country ballad with melancholic piano sounds and peaceful acoustic guitar sounds and heartwarming timeless closing country tune ''Uvaguk'' with its beautiful harmonica sounds that could easily play in any pub around the world. Despite the rough production and the northern background of the band, this album has an infectious passion and warmth.
Metal purists might have some trouble with this record that combines blues rock, country rock, doom metal, hard rock and heavy metal but any rock music enthusiast with an open mind should listen to this historical record that has stood the test of time and still sounds particularly entertaining nowadays. The band didn't have the financial means to record another record for a long period of time and seemed to have fallen apart when their bassist died of cancer and their singer got murdered about a decade ago. The band however reunited with two new members only two years ago and actually released its sophomore record thirty-two years after its first strike. The adventurous rock and roll spirit that led to the band's first genre-breaking output has been rekindled. The rock and roll flame is still burning in the Far North. Let's hope it will never be extinguished.
Final rating: 80%
Listen to the album via Bandcamp: https://northernhaze.bandcamp.com/releases
Par kluseba le 28 Janvier 2019 à 00:01
Ladies and gentlemen!
I have decided to make it a tradition to present my personal awards for the past cinematic year in late January. Here are the movies that have impressed me most in their respective categories between January first 2018 and December thirty-first 2018.
Best Original Song: Venom by Eminem
Best Original Score: BlacKkKlansman
Best Sound Editing: A Quiet Place
Best Sound Mixing: Bad Times at the El Royale
Best Visual Effects: Alpha
Best Film Editing: BlacKkKlansman
Best Costume Design: Rampant
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Thugs of Hindostan
Best Cinematography: Roma
Best Animated Feature Film: Isle of Dogs
Best Foreign Language Film: Champion
Best Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman
Best Original Screenplay: A or B
Best Supporting Actress: Sasaki Miyu in Shoplifters
Best Supporting Actor: Kairi Jyo in Shoplifters
Best Actress: Yalitza Aparicio in Roma
Best Actor: Aamir Khan in Thugs of Hindostan
Best Director: Ren Pengyuan in A or B
Best Picture: Champion
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