• A despicable case of fan exploitation - A review of X Japan's ''We Are X''

    What happened back in 1996? Hashimoto Ryutaro became Prime Minister of Japan. He has been dead for more than a decade now. The Siege of Sarajevo came to an end in the aftermath of the Bosnian War. The Nintendo 64 home video game console was released and became a huge success. Back in those days, I was still going to kindergarten, my grandfathers were both still alive and I hadn't discovered metal music yet. 

    Why am I talking about all these things? It's because X Japan's last studio record Dahlia was also released that year and I wanted to put things into perspective. Twenty-one years have passed since this release. A new album has been announced and teased several times. In the beginning, it was supposed to come out shortly after the group's reunion ten years ago. Then, it was supposed to follow the release of two singles that came out six years ago. Two years ago, the band posted a picture of a disc with twelve new titles written on it on its Facebook page. The group released a new single in support of the upcoming album. Last year, a special show in London was supposed to take place which seemed to indicate the release of a new album but the date was pushed back an entire year because the guitar player got sick. Several sources indicated that new material could still be released later that year. When the band finally played its rescheduled concert this year, a documentary of the band as well as its soundtrack were celebrated. But once again the band didn't release its new album without any explanations.

    And after such a long time, that's truly infuriating. Many people made fun of Guns 'N Roses' Chinese Democracy release but the band actually ended up releasing said album. Metal fans make fun of Wintersun and definitely have point but even this group has at least released the first part of its Time cycle. I don't even know any case that is comparable to what X Japan is doing to its fans.

    To say it as it is: The band hasn't achieved anything noteworthy in the past twenty-one years and counting. Imagine a person who retires and stops working in its early forties and lets other naive people pay for its laziness for more than two decades while laughing at them. Would you like to support such a sucker? I guess nobody would to but that's ironically what anyone who buys this record actually does.

    X Japan hasn't done anything but breaking promises, failing to give updates about the new release and trying to make a maximum of profit with a minimum of effort. X Japan has released eleven compilations since its last regular studio album and I didn't even count the boxed sets and live releases with more material of the old days. Most greatest hits compilations came with no new material at all or with only one new song which was often a live or acoustic version that sounded unfinished. X Japan have become the equivalent of capitalist loan sharks that try to fool the high number of fans that blindly follow the band and buy, comment and worship anything they do. Even calculated plastic pop bands with exchangeable band members of the shallowest kind have more to offer than this legend that destroys its own status with every single new release that isn't the promised new studio record.

    We Are X is another release of this despicable kind. The band throws in an acoustic version of a new song called ''La Venus'' that hasn't even been published in its original form yet and that song turns out to be another shallow piano ballad like ''Without You'' that was exclusively included on the band's last greatest hits release just to be published again on this compilation here. The band's few promising new singles like ''Jade'' or ''Born to Be Free'' are however once again not physically available yet.

    Aside of adding a vapid new song, this compilation manages to fail at all other levels as well. It opens and closes with two boring piano ballads instead of kicking things off with a bang. The compilation randomly mixes live tracks, acoustic songs, instrumental tunes, edited versions and regular tracks on this release that doesn't have any coherence whatsoever. The songs and versions chosen for this compilation are almost exclusively tracks that have already been chosen numerous times for similar releases. Overlooked fan's favorites or rare material from the group's early years are obviously not included here. The band even destroyed its own songs by offering only an excerpt of its career highlight ''Art of Life'' which was at least included in its entirey on the last greatest hits record. This song should be released in its entirey or not at all. It's as if Led Zeppelin put an excerpt of about ninety second of ''Stairway to Heaven'' on a shiny new coaster.

    That isn't enough though because the band needs to fool its Japanese fans even more. The limited edition of this album comes with a different cover artwork and a bonus disc including including two live songs that had already been published before. The regular version of one of those songs is even already included on the first disc, so you get the same song twice instead of listening to something different for a change. How much are the fans supposed to pay for this special edition in Japan? While the regular release is available as an import version for about fifteen dollars, the vapid limited release costs about twenty-seven bucks. Yes, you have to pay almost twice the price for two extra songs that have already been published before.

    What is the context of this release anyway? It's called the soundtrack of an original motion picture which is actually a melodramatic documentary about the band's career that tells us nothing that X Japan fans haven't already known before. Instead of getting a proper soundtrack, the occasion of this documentary's release was used to produce another cheap compilation.

    I can't even eat as much as I feel the need to puke when I'm just thinking about that release. If you have any kind of self-respect, don't buy this piece of crap and actively try to convince other people not to waste their money on this hollow plastic record. If you support the band by buying this album, they will think that they actually have a point in releasing this. Instead, these so-called legends should be brought down to earth again and criticized for the way they treat their fans. They should deliver the goods or just retire instead of exploiting their misled supporters. I was a fan myself not so long ago and have chosen to ignore anything about this band until an actual new studio record will be released. As it is now, I doubt that this will actually happen one day but hope dies last.

    We are not X!

    Final rating: 0%

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