Review Summary: "The sky embraced the sea that day... in silence that is, in silence endlessly"
Opening with a modest low-fi track, former hair-spray Visual Kei rockers Luna Sea refrain from theatrics throughout the mid/late-career Style, which may detract from the overall experience for listeners who prefer the more energetic work they've put out. It isn't without its popular highlights, many now considered among the band's classics such as the predominately 5/4 signature "Ra-Se-N," the beautiful slow-building love song "Forever and Ever" or "In Silence" with its soaring guitar patterns and solos. But indeed a thorough listen by a serious listener reveals such subtle charms as "Luv U" with it's bouncing rhythm and playful guitar solo, or the fevered apocalyptic vision of "1999."
It is truly an obligation to expand upon "In Silence," a track that sees Luna Sea at their best as masterful alchemists, combining sweet sentiments with foreboding clouds in a song that reveals its fractured heart musically before a word is ever sung. It is a memory of a love song, a great longing for something seemingly intangible, and Sugizo's resonant, ebb and flow guitar work conjures vivid images of open skies, blue or star-filled, and rolling waves (which unsurprisingly served as the opening and primary visual element of the official music video.) "The momentary wind was almost teasing / because this era is raging right now." (Translated)
The weaker points of the album are "End of Sorrow" and "Desire." Neither are bad songs, however both suffer from comparatively unmemorable choruses or lack of variation. Perhaps it's only that by the end of "In Silence," which directly follows them, they are doomed to be buried by this stunning song, practically flawless musically, vocally and lyrically. Drumming throughout the album is suitable for the style but nothing to rave on about, the bass is subtle and groovy, serving its purpose well and occasionally taking a dominant role such as in the mellow album closer "Selves." Guitar is where it's at here, and is the only instrument you can expect stand-out performances from. Lead guitarist and violinist Sugizo truly shines, particularly in the hard to stop rambling about "In Silence," but throughout the album his trademark emotional playing style adds a graceful and crucial touch.
Be aware this is a Japanese band with primarily Japanese lyrics, don't let the English titles fool you (in fact, "Ra-Se-N" is the only Japanese titled Luna Sea track I'm aware of.) Internet searches will provide you with fan translations which add substantial depth and meaning to the songs. Highly recommended overall, 4.2/5.