J-Rock Spotlight: X Japan

Until recently, many music fans in the U.S. may not have heard of the band X Japan. As a fan for nearly 25 years, it is enjoyable to hear their music, which has ranged from the likes of speed metal to some of the amazing power ballads crafted by the band’s co-founder and leader, Yoshiki (drums/piano). The band also consisted of Toshi (co-founder/vocals), Taiji (bass), hide (guitars), and Pata (guitars)

x-japan

Formed in 1982, the band had a brief appearance in the 1988 film Tokyo Pop opposite the late Carrie Hamilton, who played an American in Japan who decides to join a band. Their debut album, Vanishing Vision was released that year on Yoshiki’s Extasy Records label before they signed a major contract with Sony, who released their second album, Blue Blood, in 1989. They were the pioneers of visual kei, the Japanese equivalent of America’s glam metal look.

After the release of third album Jealousy in 1991, the band went through a line-up change when bassist Taiji left the band, to be replaced by current bassist Heath. The band would release more singles, followed by a fourth album, Dahlia, in 1996. That album showcased the band with a more casual look as opposed to their trademark visual kei look. However, in 1997, the band had split up after the departure of lead vocalist and co-founder Toshi.

In 1998, the band’s guitar player hide (hee-day) accidentally killed himself in a freak accident and for a short time, the band reunited at hide’s funeral to perform their hit ballad “Forever Love”.

Ten years later after their split, the band had reunited and recorded “I.V.”, the theme song to the horror film sequel Saw IV. The band had used an unrecorded guitar solo from the late hide to complete the song. However, the band found a new guitarist and now, a violinist in the dual musical form of Sugizo, of another J-rock band, Luna Sea.

xjapan

While the band continued their success with more songs sporadically, a new documentary has been released. We Are X (see trailer) has won the Audience Award at the recent SXSW Festival and won Best Documentary Editing at the Sundance Film Festival.

The band had been set to release a brand new album, their first worldwide English-language album, on March 11, 2016. However, a near tragedy struck in January when longtime guitarist Pata ended up in the hospital with a blood clot in his leg. Luckily, he was saved but is recovering. As a result, a stage show at London’s famed Wembley Stadium scheduled for March 12 was postponed to March 2017. As for the album, a date is still unknown for its release.

For more information on this legendary J-Rock band, check out their official website at http://www.xjapanmusic.com

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