Review Summary: A visual kei classic.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
In the 90's, visual kei was at its peak. With various branches (i.e. Nagoya kei, kote kei, kurofuku kei, etc.) in the genre, it's very hard to open-mindlessly claim, "visual kei sucks", or whatever the statement may be. However, one band in particular was highly acclaimed in the 90's visual kei scene, not only for its spectacular music, but for its extravagant live shows. That band is known as Malice Mizer. The band was formed in the early 90's by members Mana and Kozi, and later recruited Yu~ki on guitars. Although the band had a lengthy list of former members, their shows were always a center of theirs. After releasing two independent albums, to reasonable success, the band finally released their first major album, "Merveilles", in 1998. The album was deemed a visual kei classic ever since.
The album starts off with the dark introduction, "De Merveilles", which slowly pulls you into their world, before fully thrusting you in at full velocity, with the highly dramatic, "Syunikiss", which very cleverly mixes classical and progressive rock elements. The vocalist, the now-renowned superstar, Gackt's vocals put a heavily theatrical turn in this song, and throughout the album. An outstanding opening track to say the least. The album then blends into their cult-classic single, "Bel Air", which takes a much more progressive turn. The excellent musicianship of the band shines brightly in this track, and Gackt's mysterious vocals add an extra layer of excellence.
But then, the album takes a 180-degree turn with the song, "Illuminati", which is essentially gothic-electro-industrial-meets-synthpop. The song focuses on erotica, and letting your emotions run wild. A very different turn, but a highly interesting one at that. Then the album goes to an alternative/pop sound with "Brise", which is a surprisingly sunny track for the dark and dramatic album. At this point, the album undergoes various changes amongst that description.
But then, the synthpop sound comes back with the track, "Ju te Veux", which is very reminiscent of the club synthpop sound that was highly popular in the 80's. A good throwback track, and Gackt's vocals add a nice pop meld. The album then enters gothic territory once more with the highly disorientating track, "S-Conscious". But then the album starts one of its biggest standout tracks, "Le Ciel", which is a very angelic and emotional track, that features Gackt among highly soulful territory, crooning to the souls of each and every listener. The album then goes off into another mentionable track, "Gekka no Yasokyoku", which is essentially a very theatrical song, and a great way to close the classic album.
Overall, "Merveilles" by Malice Mizer is a stunning example of how creative and artsy the visual kei circuit can be. Although there will probably never be a record like "Merveilles" released anytime soon, it should also be applauded for the various influences in the album, whereas their previous records were very straightforward in sound. A classic visual kei album that broke ground for future acts to come.