Review Summary: Big in sound and big in heart.
Crescent was Gackt’s continuation of the story he began with Moon. Overall, Moon lacked strength musically, seeing Gackt take more of a guitar based attack on his style, causing some collateral in the song writing department and resulting in very little dynamic. Crescent manages to keep heading forward with this style, but looks back towards Gackt’s beginnings to form a far stronger, much more engaging album.
It’s even in the small details, such as the fact that the album doesn’t start off with the “song in a made up language” gimmick his past three albums had. Overall, the guitar driven crunch of Moon is kept intact, both as a thematic tie in for the albums and as a signal that this was the direction Gackt had decided to settle with. On Crescent, Gackt spends a lot more time alone with a piano, his most primal instrument and acoustic string ballads, a luxury he didn’t give himself on Moon, even though for the most part it’s in these textured ballads that Gackt had sounded most elegant. “Tsuki no Uta
” sees Gackt show restraint from bombarding the listener with huge swooping instruments, managing to build intensity simply out of the string section rather than huge goofy guitars, finishing off the movement with an impressively clean falsetto. Surprisingly, especially since Crescent sets itself up really early to be Gackt’s “biggest” (cheesiest could also be substituted if you’d rather) sounding album yet, “Hoshi no Suna
” manages to be a standout track by not standing out at all as Gackt sings accompanied only by piano. The playing is humble and graceful and Gackt’s singing sounds its most emotional here. The song also builds a huge amount of tension this way, even though it is by far the most stripped down of any song on the album.
The rest of the album (for the most part) suffers from some serious cases of too much all at once. Songs like “Mind Forest
” and “Kimi ga Matteru kara
”, though neither are bad songs, suffer from some seriously bad clipping because of how simultaneously loaded they are with instruments and how loud all of these instruments are mixed. Then there’s the albums most theatrical track “Birdcage
”, which starts out fairly passively with Gackt sing over a lead violin and acoustic guitar before throwing you head on, without warning, into a section jammed full of… well actually god knows what exactly because there’s so much going on that the strings, synths and guitars all bleed into each other and you can barely hear each individual instrument. Though all of these songs are only actually flawed by the production, as the only songs that really are negatives by themselves are the bland, skippable guitar ballad “Solitary
” and the incredibly tasteless “Lust for Blood
” which sounds like it could be the soundtrack to one of those MMORPG ads you see on streaming websites.
But that’s really where the negatives cap off for Crescent, as for the most part, this is Gackt at his best. Gackt continues to prove that he’s one of the best pop rock acts in Japan, this time simultaneously flexing his talent as an actor by presenting the album as a concept album. If you’re returning to Gackt after hearing Mars or Rebirth, then there’s no way you’ll be disappointed as all the arena rock hits and the possessive pop hooks are all here in full driving force. “Kimi ga Oikaketa Yume
” is Gackt doing what he does best, playing directly to the audience, even in the studio. “Kimi ga Oikaketa Yume
” has one of the strongest choruses in Gackt’s repetoir. Gackt even shares the spotlight on the albums closing track with L’arc~en~ciel vocalist Hyde for a big finale, full of big sweeping strings and punchy guitars.
If you’re looking to get into Gackt, Crescent is by no means a bad place to start, in fact as an amalgam of Gackt’s career up until this point, it’s almost the perfect place to start. Crescent sees Gackt hastily learn from Moon’s shortcomings and improve. Though the production is a bit shaky here and there, it hardly detracts from the album’s quality and certainly not its enjoyment value. Crescent is a great example of an artist with such massive stage presence, it can be felt from the studio.