X Japan began their transcendence into a more progressive band with their second album, Blue Blood
. Unlike their debut, Vanishing Vision
, Blue Blood
focused more on crafting an experience, more than just performing straightforward speed metal. The album showcased X Japan�s affinity for writing ballads, which grew out of founding member Yoshiki�s love for classical music. On their third album, Jealousy
, X Japan experimented further, delving ever-deeper into that which would sow the seeds of their legacy. However, unlike previous works, Jealousy
has quite a few glaring weaknesses. Don�t get me wrong, though: it�s an excellent album. However, it just suffers from several drawbacks of the band simply trying too hard.
For one thing, Jealousy
contains a lot of filler. The most blatantly obvious culprit to be had here is the song �Love Replica.� Here we find ourselves with a track that�s a little over four and a half minutes in length. And yet, this time feels ridiculously waster. �Love Replica� is just an odd little instrumental with some inaudible spoken word parts thrown in for flavor. Only there�s no flavor to be found here. X Japan played at writing songs in this manner on their previous two album, but unfortunately followed through with it on Jealousy
. That�s not all, either. The near nine minutes of �Say Anything� are hardly arranged into the emotive album-concluding ballad that one would expect of X Japan. It�s really just an irksome song that drags on far too long. These two songs basically just represent the worst of X Japan. They�re overly ambitious and poorly constructed.
doesn�t stack up too well in the meat and potatoes, either. �Desperate Angel,� �Stab Me in the Back,� and �Joker� just seem like pointless exercises in showing off technical skill. There�s no real beauty or passion behind these songs. They�re just metal for metal�s sake. The only problem with that is that they�re substandard when compared to much of X Japan�s musical catalog. For what it�s worth, they aren�t inherently bad songs, they just don�t mesh well with what Jealousy
is trying to portray. Even Toshi�s vocals are relatively weak when compared to the rest of Jealousy
. The same goes for the [usually] shouted backing vox. As disappointing as all this may seem, rest assured: the rest of the album is solid gold.
begins with the beautiful �Es dur no piano sen.� This introductory track features some of the most incredibly emotional and evocative piano playing I have ever heard. This comes courtesy of Yoshiki himself. �Es dus no piano sen� also features a full orchestral suite to accentuate Yoshiki�s playing (a feature that would become a commonality amongst future X Japan songs). The song continues on and on, growing ever deeper and more marvelous, until�
On one shrill note, it stops.
�Es dur no piano sen� then becomes a discordant, confused jumble of mixed notes. This leads into the anthem-like �Silent Jealousy,� the strongest song on Jealousy
, and one of X Japan�s finest moments. �Silent Jealousy� is really an incredible thing to behold. The guitar work of hide and Pata is among the best the duo ever performed. It�s easy enough just to tell this from the central riff running through the song. Taiji, performing on one last album before his departure from the band, is exemplary on the bass throughout �Silent Jealousy.� Toshi�s vocal work is absolutely unbelievable. He seriously does some of the best singing of his career on �Silent Jealousy.� The star of the show, however, is the mighty Yoshiki. Not only does he hold the song together with his steady hands to the drums, his piano solo is one of the best any X Japan song has to offer (and that�s saying a hell of a lot). �Silent Jealousy� is an essential X Japan moment, and I couldn�t give it a higher recommendation.
�Miscast� might have fallen into the same category as the aforementioned �meat and potatoes� songs, if it wasn�t for one very distinct difference: defining attitude. �Miscast� oozes �tude from Toshi exuberant snarl, to the light-speed tapped guitar solo at the hands of hide and Pata. �Miscast� succeeds where its peers fail in simply being interesting to listen to, while retaining its head-banging core. Other songs on Jealousy
accomplish the latter, and the latter only (just barely, mind you).
�White Wind From Mr. Martin� is a real treat that Jealousy
offers a listener. The one minute instrumental features the breathtaking acoustic work of hide, and serves as a wonderful lead-in to �Voiceless Screaming.� This song (and the one it introduces), are the first X Japan songs to feature acoustic guitar work (or any type of clean guitar sound for that matter). They make for an extremely refreshing change of pace, and are most welcome on Jealousy
. �Voiceless Screaming� is the kind of song where I don�t mind a little longevity. Unlike �Love Replica� or �Say Anything,� this song is the type of ballad that makes X Japan such an incredible band. Not only does it feature superb vocals from Toshi; amazing string work from hide, Pata, and Taiji; and the wonderful multi-instrumental performance of Yoshiki, �Voiceless Screaming� also has absolutely stunning orchestration, much like �Es dur no piano sen,� only far grander. �Voiceless Screaming� and its counterpart, �White Wind From Mr. Martin,� are similar to �Silent Jealousy� and its counterpart �Es dur no piano sen� in one respect: they are four sensationally essential examples of X Japan�s boundless talent.
may not be as consistent as its predecessors, it�s still an excellent album. Still, how can this humble reviewer justify such a rating when there�s so much inane content to be found here? The answer is really quite simple. I�ll reiterate it for you, the reader, once again: �the rest of the album is solid gold.� I can�t explain it much better than that. Jealousy
disappointments in several areas, yes. However, the good far
outweighs the bad. Even though it may seem unconventional for an album to be so good when most if it is rather impassive, think of it this way: X Japan are anything but a �conventional� band.