It’s the end of the year, and cautiously I’ve decided to start an end of the year lists reviewing some pretty nifty music I’ve come across. These lists won’t be in a particular set order since I’m terrible about doing that sort of thing. My brain all of these years later still tends to indicate order of importance, rather then just them being neat and the like.
Without further ado, here’s my top ten picks for Visual Kei in 2018.
SARIGIA – AGARTHA
I made mention early this year, but SARIGIA really is one of those bands keeping me hooked into Visual Kei these days. This song is both a homage in style and sound to the earlier days when latex costumes, and heavy makeup were more the norm. Okay, they’re still the norm being honest but in the bands I listen to only SARIGIA really went for that this year.
They remind me a little of early Diru. The instrumental layering is very reminiscent for me. However, SARIGIA takes it up a notch and really makes it their own. Instead of being weighed down, the track really keeps moving as does the MV.
I can’t label this a ballad, but I can’t label it a standard piece either. It’s an interesting creation that, only SARIGIA could create. Considering it’s their earliest release of this year, and something else didn’t top it for me is pretty stunning as well.
Develop One’s Faculties – アンインテリジブル
I really need more Visual Kei vocalists to step up like Yuya; play guitar and sing. Seriously. DOF is the band I immediately see, or at least see Yuya and think about how much of a badass he is. For Visual Kei being about a band, there’s a big lack of vocalists confident enough to sing and play guitar live. I have the utmost respect for Yuya to do so.
Of course, I also just love DOF for being so unique DOF. There’s an element to their music that really helps them stick out in a genre that can often get quite repetitive. It might be the fact that they rarely ever release full MV’s on their Youtube. This is the only full one they have for this year, and even that’s a treat!
Despite my praises, and gripes this song is great. The energy is through the roof, the visuals are simple but eye catching and I love everything about it.
ぞんび – クソったれが
This is one of those videos where I didn’t realize how often I was coming back to it, until I really thought about it. I thought I liked other releases by Zombi more, but really it’s this one. I’m just a really strong sucker for Kanata and his vocals since, I personally think he has one of the most unique voices I’ve ever heard. I have no doubts when I hear him singing and this release is no different.
Also Midori coming in for that harsh vocal break; yes. Give me more of that Zonbi, and Visual Kei needs to step up. Forget just having non-vocalists do backup vocals; have them take over a chorus once in awhile. Hell yeah Zonbi.
It’s also that now that I’m a teacher in Japan; the music video holds a bit more significance to me. I’m aware of the shitty stuff that students (in Japan) can do, and to have the physical context to back up this song makes it more powerful. I can only hope that this type of bullying dies out soon.
GRIMOIRE – グルーミィグルーミー
So… with that trigger warning out of the way, can I say that typically find GRIMOIRE very charming? This isn’t quite the video to be saying that, but I haven’t made time to make a post about them before. I find their whole concept which is based in fairy tales, and dreams to be very interesting.
It leaves them a lot of interesting options, and limitations. ‘Gloomy Gloomy’ really brought the darkest/hardest edge of their music out. Ry:nK for never speaking off stage (seriously), has a very unique vocal color that I could never decide if I liked or not. I guess if I’ve made the leap to see them live, and follow them this long you could say that I do.
I’m also just a big fan of this era’s costumes. Lune (sheep) and Kie (wolf) look especially good to me. This was also the last release with Amu (owl/bird), and thus a soft heartbreak for me… Especially since Amu and Kie were so close after all too.
CLØWD – NO BORDER
Being 100% real, this was not my favorite release of CLØWD’s. I wasn’t feeling their artist’s image but hey, Visual Kei could always use some shaking up. I’m still a much bigger fan of their older music.
Given how much I absolutely bawled my eyes out when I found out they were disbanding after this release this song has grown considerably on me. It’s not their standard fare, but it’s certainly a lasting final impression.
Oh CLØWD, you certainly broke my heart the most in the Visual Kei world this year.
Dir en Grey – Ranunculus
Dir en Grey is one of those bands where I don’t feel right if I’m not talking about them on these sorts of lists. Part of it is that they’re the band that started it all for me, and just jesus they have been together for literally forever and a day. I wasn’t particularly impressed with ‘Ningen wo Kaburu’ from earlier this year. They had hyped it up as being more then it was in my opinion. Even only watching the censored version of the MV left me with a strong distaste in my mouth.
Maybe I’m just not as hard core as I was when I was 13, and I’ve matured away from the more grotesque sides of Dir en Grey. I’ve been digging ‘Ranunculus’ and the entirely of ‘The Insulated World’ pretty consistently ever since I got my hands on the physical copy of the album. It’s been in my car since early October and I still haven’t switched it out yet.
I never quite know what’s going in Dir en Grey’s videos, but this particular video is pretty damn cool in my opinion.
BABOO – xxxx
So BABOO was another group I’ve talked about before, mostly for the nifty reason of releasing free music for their fans. It was enough to get me interested in them and poking around their discography. After giving it a listen through, I really found ‘xxxx’ to be the most interesting.
You would think that I would have picked an MV that showed their faces but no. I decided to go the MV that most suspiciously looks like a fan upload.
(I’m only partly kidding.)
But alas, much like CLØWD, BABOO has broken my heart this year. Just as I was getting addicted to their sound and almost ready to fork over the cash to see them live; they rather abruptly announced their disbandment on November 27th, with their final performance on December 12th. Such is the life of Visual Kei bands, we’ll have to wait and see where the members head to next.
Royz – SINFONIA
Royz never disappoints me with their releases and ‘SINFONIA’ is no exception. I was pretty surprised when I saw their costumes for this particular period, but there’s always room for a good change up in my opinion. I was expecting a ballad, and that made me slightly worried…
VKei ballads are either always really long and drawn out so they’re usually not my favorite releases of a band. Don’t get me wrong, hearing them live will always send shivers down my spine. I was more then surprised and pleased with ‘SINFONIA’ since it’s more a soft ballad then anything. There’s still a kick ass guitar bit for Kunia, plenty of room for Tomoya and Koudai to get in there too.
I’ve been re-playing it since it came out, which is a rarity in general let alone a ballad. So despite it being one of the most recent releases of this year it earned a spot on my list.
the Raid – 一番近く速い人
Can I say that lyric videos always have a soft spot in my heart? It’s not a secret that a band will put them out if their budget for another MV doesn’t quite cover filming something brand new. I like them since there’s no pressure to watch to see all the full visuals of a band, and just enjoy a song. Plus, sometimes I surprise myself with how much I can follow the song even without furigana!
Of course, the Raid has been on fire with releases this year. I had a pretty difficult time picking which release was my favorite since, of course, all of them are good in my opinion. While I’m a bit puzzled at the name of this track which roughly translates to ‘the nearest fastest person’, it’s still a beautiful song.
アクメ – 絶唱謳歌
Closing out this list… Do I need to explain? Do I really?
No? Good, because I figured it was pretty obvious that ACME, much like Diru, would come up at least once. Zesshou Ouka, aside from being their first full album is also their most catchy song in my opinion to date. The live version is just as fun as the MV, and I have some of my favorite memories from this year thanks to this song. Of course, I’d leave it to close out my list.
And that’s all she wrote! Drop a comment if you got some new tunes to check out, or link me some of your favor VKei tracks from this year! I’d love to hear them!