Review Summary: A stunning beginning to an incredible career from the Japanese legends.
Luna Sea are synonymous with J-Rock. Along with their Godfathers X Japan, without whom they probably wouldn't have seen the light of day, they pioneered rock and metal in Japan with an iron fist. Born around the time Grunge had its enormous paws on the western music scene, in Japan it was all about Visual Kei. The flamboyant costumes and outrageous hairdos reminiscent of the western glam scene was what it was all about. Of course, one of the most glaringly cliché details of glam is that the music is usually awful. The costumes and the ideal rock and roll life being the main focus for a lot of bandwagon riding bands. But not for Luna Sea.
Luna Sea’s debut album is full of the fiery young ambition to be great. Although the straight to the point album art might set off some warning bells in your head, don’t listen to them; they’re lying. Forget the western glam scene all together because this album sounds nothing like it, it’s an entirely different beast. The album immediately kicks off with a heat-filled prelude which leads straight into the next song without missing a step. One of the first noticeable signs of a promising listen to come is how tight the musicianship is between the five piece. The guitarists complement each other incredibly well throughout the course of the album. The bass and the drums ride along superbly and the vocalist does an amazing job of holding his soaring pitch right across the board.
The individual aspects of the music all fit together so perfectly well like a jigsaw puzzle. Little things add to the intensity of the album such as the harmonious violin present in the background on “Sandy Time” as well as its infectiously catchy bass riff and the clean guitar backing “Branch Road.” Luna Sea utilise harmony in such a unique way that is almost unfaultable in its execution. Unfortunately at times it’s used in rather bizarre ways where you’re not quite expecting it to be such as in the uncomfortable rocker “Shade” a song which is also let down by a rather awkward rhythm. But that aside, the album contains enough energy to keep a modest sized town running so chances are you’ll be too lost in the sound to even care. Throughout the album, the fiery guitar work and bone shattering vocals will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way through the albums modest running time.
The staggering electric haze that the music creates is unfortunately rather difficult to fully appreciate due to the rather sub-par production used on the album which somehow manages to bury everything within itself in places and in other spots make the guitars feel empty. This unappealing production does unfortunately make this album slightly less enjoyable to listen to than it could have been, which is a shame because the musicianship and song-writing ability that Luna Sea display on this album is incredibly strong.
Thankfully, due to the stellar song writing abilities of the band, songs like “The Slain” maintain their intended character and atmosphere even through the questionable production. “The Slain” showcases the band’s versatility, taking a different path from the adrenaline spiked J-Rock of the rest of the album to experiment with guitar soundscapes. What’s even more impressive about this is that it doesn’t kill the albums pace. Luna Sea refuse to give up as the album relentlessly drives its way towards its conclusion.
Luna Sea’s debut work somehow manages to capture the colour and energy of the Visual Kei scene in it and creates a sound unparalleled in its field. It’s not hard to see why Luna Sea went on to lead a phenomenal career and inspire a generation of Japanese rock bands once you witness the cathartic heat that their debut album exudes. This album is a perfect introduction to Luna Sea’s superb discography and is probably one of the strongest debuts in music, strong enough to stand on its own even with its merciless production. This is a fantastic alternative rock album, not an album to overlook or underestimate simply due to the misconceptions its packaging might give.