7 February 2019 | kluseba
One of the world's most fascinating bands
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.
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 brilluant but fragile band leader for the rest of his life. When the band reaches 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 bedsheet in a prison cell after having been arrested following inappropriate behaviour on a flight in Japan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.