A Journey for You, By X
After a series of tumultuous events, X Japan’s We Are X has finally made its debut. It’s an opus of a career’s worth of music which displays a colorful symbiosis of life and death. For those unfamiliar with X Japan, the band have been through quite a roller coaster, one which could easily hold a candle to many of music’s greatest tragedies. While experiencing early deaths, cancelled shows and a series of personal issues, X Japan continue to show why they are considered by many to be one of the greatest heavy metals bands to come out of Japan. Ultimately, twenty years later, the band have come together once again to create yet another channeling of rambunctious visual kei.
Released alongside the documentary of the same name, We Are X is a scintillating record built from synths and heavy metal. It is a culmination of the band’s long presence in the world of heavy metal, one that started in the early eighties. The album is a rock opera of sorts, detailing a series of events that ultimately construct the art and style that has come to define the band’s symphonic sound. We Are X dips and turns through loud, bashing speed rock and slower piano-driven ballads. It’s archaic at times, but is pulled together by this taciturn mayhem as if looking to replicate X Japan’s rigorous campaign. The album’s first track, “La Venus,” an acoustic pilgrimage through sadness, was nominated for an Oscar this year.
Truly, the journey on We Are X is very much an adventure designed for listeners. The idea, it would seem, is to experience the tragedies right alongside the band’s founder Yoshiki Hayashi, who cataclysmically ransacks his kit as if looking to purge himself of all his inner demons. The album is full of sounds expunged from prior events, many of which created tremors in an already splitting environment. It’s all personal; nothing is barred, and only when the heavy metal riffs erupt does it feel like the right time to move past all the angst present throughout the album.
Alongside his fellow band members, Toshi, Sugizo, Heath and Pata, who recently spent some time in the ICU resulting in the album’s first year-long delay, Yoshiki uses music as a tool to grab hold of his life story. But, in full, it is the band’s partnership with these experiences that makes We Are X so interesting. It’s real, grounded in truth captured by a band who have been through it all and, most importantly, seen it all. Like Metallica or other metal bands born out of the early eighties, X Japan have grown exponentially, and, in We Are X, it shows.