View Full Version : Featured Artist #13: X-Japan

04-04-2005, 02:48 AM
X-Japan – Japanese rock at its best

X-Japan was:

Toshimitsu Dayama, aka Toshi (Vocals) 1976-1997
Hayashi Yoshiki, aka, Yoshiki (Piano, Drums) 1976-1997
Matsumoto Hideto, aka hide (Guitar – pronounced ‘He-deh’) 1987-1997
Tomoaki Ishizuka, aka Pata (Guitars) 1987-1997
Taiji Sawada aka Taiji (Bass) 1987-1992
Hiroshi Morie, aka, Heath (Bass) 1992-1997


Vanishing Vision (1988)
Blue Blood (1989)
Jealousy (1991)
Art of Life (Mini-album, 1993) (http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?albumid=1791)
Dahlia (1996)

Let's get Crazy! (X)

Unknown to most of the western world, X-Japan were one of the biggest and greatest rock acts to have ever come out from Japan. Nothing short of legendary, X-Japan pioneered what is now know as ‘visual kei’ in Japan – the equivalent of ‘shock rock’. With their crazy hair (Think Motley Crue ten times over) and outrageous stage dress up, (http://www.sempai.org/~mwduncan/jpoppics/xjapan1.jpg - note the red dress) they heavily influenced nearly all future Japanese bands, who would soon try and copy their ‘look’. Over a ten year period, releasing four full length albums and one mini-album, X-Japan grew to cult status within Japan – in terms of popularity, they were the equivalent of the Beatles (speaking of which, the band worked with Sir George Martin, the Beatles producer, later on in their career, as well as Roger Taylor of Queen), the undisputed kings of J-Rock.

“X-Japan were pretty much Japan's answer to Led Zeppelin”

Originally known as just ‘X’, the band was formed by Toshimitsu Deyama (Toshi, Vocals) and Yoshiki Hayashi (Yoshiki, Drums, Piano) in 1976 – when they were just 12, after Yoshiki was inspired by KISS ‘to become a rockstar’ when they played live in Japan. By the time 1987 came about, nearly 10 years after the formation of the ‘band’, X had three additional members, hide (Guitar/Background Vocals, always spelt with a small ‘h’ – hide actually was planning to open his own hair saloon before he got a fateful call one day from Toshi), Pata (Guitar) and Taiji (Bass) and had written their first single, ‘Orugasumu’ (Orgasm).

Vanishing Vision

At the time, no record labels would sign the band, finding them too aggressive for mainstream music, so Yoshiki created his own label – Extasy records, with help from his mum who sold their family business in order to support him. Within a year, they released their first album, Vanishing Vision. Only a taste of what was to come, the album was ranked first in the indies chart list within a week of release, and over 10,000 copies had been sold. Yoshiki’s furious, fast paced drumming (In later years, he would have back problems because of his intense drumming and would have to wear a neck brace while drumming – an interesting sight to see him headbanging on the drums with it on. He broke his wrists a few times too.), together with hides and Pata’s beautiful guitar harmonies, aggressive riffs and ripping solos, Taiji’s pounding bass and Toshi’s amazing voice (with a three octave range, able to sing the ballads and heavy metal with X-Japan were soon to be so famous for), caught the Japanese mainstream off-guard. What made the music stand out even more however, was the classical influences brought in by Yoshiki (the main songwriter), whose beautiful piano pieces and song arrangements mixed together with all out heavy metal was a breath of fresh air to the cheesy J-pop that dominated mainstream radio in Japan.

Recommended Tracks:

-I’ll Kill You
-Sadistic Desire

X was now gaining popularity all over Japan, their unique visual appeal and amazing live shows (I’d recommend people to find videos of their live performances – absolutely mind blowing) attracting a huge fan base, which would in time, only get bigger.

Blue Blood

Only a year after the release of their debut album, the band released their second album, Blue Blood. Another hit, this album cemented X’s place as the ‘best Japanese rock act of their time’ A lighter sounding album than their last, Blue Blood was a mix of raw energy and dreamy sweetness. It retained their sound, although a lot of the darkness and negativity had been replaced by more up-beat, faster paced and generally lighter songs (Just look at the names of some of the songs: Easy Fight Rambling, Celebration, Orgasm… as opposed to say, Sadistic Desire). There was also a new version of Kurenai and more classics, Blue Blood and Rusty Nail. Soon after the release of the album, the band went on their Rose and Blood tour, attracting huge crows and sold out shows all over the country.

Recommended Tracks:

-Blue Blood
-Rusty Nail


In 1991, the band released their third Album, Jealousy. This was probably the bands most diverse album, with two instrumentals, showing off Yoshiki’s great piano skills, two of their most ‘hair metal’ sounding songs, and then more fast paced, prog based music (prog elements are littered throughout their music). Strings were even added into some of their songs, making them even more epic than ever.

Recommended Tracks:

-Silent Jealousy

With the success of their first three albums, X decided to go international, and went to LA to try out their music on a western market. It was at this point in time where the band changed their name to X-Japan, to avoid confusion with an LA punk band, already named X. It was also at this point in time in which an argument broke out between Taiji and Toshi, ending up with Taiji breaking his arm, and then leaving the band. Their American tour was short lived, and they soon returned to Japan, where, once replacing Taiji with Heath, they commenced on their Violence In Jealousy Tour, which again drew huge crowds and sold out shows. Note: Today, many people believe that the departure of Taiji was one of the contributors to the break up of the band, a few years later.

By this time, X-Japan had moved away from the ‘Visual Kei’ style, keeping to ‘cool boy’ look, with short hair, Gucci sunnies, designer suits and the like. Only hide, undoubtedly the most popular member of the band, kept up with the ‘old style’, keeping his hair pink and wearing multicolored costumes. (http://www.baubo5.com/music/x%20japan.jpg).

The defining moment of the band was yet to come however, when X-Japan was asked to perform in the Tokyo Dome. X-Japans’ Tokyo Dome concert, was unique in that no concert had ever before been held at the Tokyo Dome (it is now the biggest concert venue in Japan, having being preformed in by stars like Madonna and Michael Jackson). It rocketed them to even higher levels of fame - It was the baptism of X-Japan in a way, to show that they were now the top of the top. For 3 days, X-Japan rocked the house, and the shows are still remembered as the best they ever put on, comparable only to ‘The last live’ – the last show X-Japan ever preformed.

04-04-2005, 02:48 AM
The Art of Life

In 1993, X-Japan released the mini-album, The Art of Life. Containing one song, The Art of Life (duh) clocked in at just over 29 minutes, and was probably the best song that X-Japan ever produced. The only song Yoshiki wrote fully in English, it has been compared with Dream Theatre’s ‘A Change of Seasons’ – an indication of how epic it is. A progressive masterpiece, this song contains everything anyone could need. Staring off with a piano and guitar intro, the dreamy melody doesn’t hint at what would come next….

With a build up comparable with Stairway (not quite, but it’s good!), the song soon lurches into a fast paced fury of guitar solos and drums, the melody constantly changing, with background strings making the song blissfully epic. hides and Pata’s synchronized solos at points in the song makes for even more unique and interesting song. At around the 13 minute mark, the song slows down, to make way for the piano solo. At a length of just over 7 minutes, the piano solo is absolutely unreal. Yoshiki, Staring off with a note-by-note intro, the piece slowing begins to build itself up, with the bass part becoming ever more grand, becoming a fury of ‘wrong notes’, before breaking back into melody again. Fading out, the strings come in again, with an almost orchestral like sound, become once again lapsing into guitars and drums. The songs slows down the piano, stings, guitar and drums, altogether, carrying the song through to its end. X-Japan only ever played this song live once, and went for an amazing 34 minutes.

During this year Yoshiki also worked with Beatles producer George Martin to produce Eternal Melody – was consisted of X-Japan songs arranged for classical performance. The double album was performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and also included other classical performances by Yoshiki on the piano. (Despite the ‘hard rocking’ image of Yoshiki, he absolutely loved classical music – as can be seen in his six minute symphonic composition of ‘amethyst’, a beautiful classical piece)

Dahlia Tour/Dahlia

1994 was an interesting year for X-Japan, which saw them perform at ‘The Great Musical Experience’ together with international artists such as Jon Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, INXS and Joni Mitchell. Yoshiki also worked on some various projects, contributing to the KISS tribute album, KISS my ***, playing Black Diamond, and in June, Yoshiki released the single ‘Foreign Sand’ together with Roger Taylor of Queen. In December, X-Japan played again in the Tokyo Dome. It was more of a ‘break’ year for the band, not writing any new material.

The next year X-Japan went on their biggest tour yet, the Dahlia tour. Playing at venues all over Japan for an entire year, the Dahlia tour was also recorded and released as a live CD.

It was in November of 1996 however, that the album Dahlia was released. Received with mixed feelings, some people believed that Dahlia was X-Japans best work, while other believed it to be the opposite. Dahlia undoubtedly had a different sound from their previous albums, this due to the ‘new’ bassist, Heath, as well as the fact that hide wrote a number of songs on the album as well. That said however, because of the long wait that fans had to endure between Dahlia and their last ‘proper’ album, Dahlia was probably the fastest selling album X-Japan ever had, with more X-classics, including the title track (A personal favorite), Rusty Nail, Scars and Tears. Amidst the delight of the fans however, were rumors of tension within the band, as well as with Atlantic records (X-Japans ‘new’ record company, who they signed on with in 1993), whom detractors of the album believed pushed too hard to get the album out as fast as possible.

Recommended Tracks:

-Rusty Nail
-Crucify My Love

The Last Live

On the 20th of April, 1997, Toshi announced he was leaving the band, saying that Yoshiki’s songs were not the style of singing he wanted to do. After a few months of speculation, Yoshiki announced that X-Japan would disband, as they were unable to continue without Toshi. Fans were shocked by the turn of events and many refused to believe it. Many thought that the break-up would be temporary, and something would happen to bring the band back together again. Rumor had it that Yoshiki had plans to form a new band with a new singer, together with hide.

Any plans that anyone had however were put to an end, when on the 2nd of May, 1998, hide was found dead in his apartment, after a night of heavy drinking, an apparent suicide by hanging. With no apparent motive for the suicide, the shock was huge, and four fans actually attempted to commit suicide themselves, two of them actually killing herself because of the news. There are suspicions that hide’s suicide may have been an accident: two theories saying that he might have either been doing a neck exercise or practicing for a mock stage suicide for an upcoming gig. On the day of hides’ funeral, fifty thousand people turned up to pay their respects to Japans greatest guitar player. Yoshiki flew from Los Angles back to Japan immediately after he heard the news, and the band got together one last time at the funeral to play ‘Forever Love’. Following hide's demise, Yoshiki entered a state of depression for almost three years, being unable to compose or play – during this time, he never played the drums. There and then, the legend of X-Japan came to an end, all hope of the band ever getting together again dashed. There is a hide Museum in Yokosuka in Japan, where his guitars, car and other items of interest are still displayed today.

A few members of X-Japan still continued doing music, with Pata creating his own band Ra:IN (Rock and Inspiration), Toshi was rumored to have joined a cult involving musical therapy (many believe this cult was the reason he quit the band) and singing in small concerts once in a while, and Yoshiki doing various projects, including Violet UK and Globe, as well as producing for different bands. Perhaps a testament to the ‘greatness’ of X-Japan, was the fact that in 1999, Yoshiki was asked to write and perform a song for the emperor of Japan. The Emperor liked the song so much, he even composed a poem about it. Yoshiki was again invited to the Akasaka palace in Tokyo, to dine with the emperor a year later.

Well, that’s about it, I recommend all you guys to check them out, I should however say that a few of you might not like the vocals. The Japanese accent is not one easy to get used to.


-hide holds the world record for the longest throw of a television… from a hotel window.
-Yoshiki always asserted he had amethyst coloured blood
-Current Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he’s a fan of X-Japan
-Don’t bother trying to play the piano solo in Art of life. It requires four hands. Honestly.

Samples of songs can be found here:


Keep Rockin!

Further Reading:

X-Japan Main site: http://www.x-japan.de/main.htm

Katrin's and Chris' X Japan page: http://www.projectj.net/xjapan.htm

Art of Life Review: http://www.chaoticempire.org/artoflife.html

04-04-2005, 02:51 AM
Awesome. One of the best yet.

04-04-2005, 02:57 AM
Great work dude. I can't say I'm a fan of X-Japan, but I enjoyed that FA nonetheless.

Apocalyptic Raids
04-04-2005, 05:16 AM
Well Done, I might have to check them out.

04-04-2005, 05:20 AM
Wait so the solo in art of life wasn't layered? He played the whole thing? :amaze:

04-04-2005, 05:38 AM
-Don’t bother trying to play the piano solo in Art of life. It requires four hands. Honestly.

'tis indeed layered.

04-04-2005, 05:50 AM
Great FA. Since Yoshiki was both the pianist and drummer for the band, he's quite an extraordinary talent. I think the piano solo in Art Of Life was played as it's heard, i.e not layered, which is incredible really...I never knew they only played it live once though. Oh how I wish I could have been there. :( I'm really growing to like these guys now.

I have a live recording, I think. Get me on MSN if you want it.

04-04-2005, 08:22 AM
bump, could a mod sticky this?

04-04-2005, 08:28 AM
Badass FA, Good work.

04-04-2005, 08:57 AM
Nice. I haven't heard any of their stuff though.

04-04-2005, 11:09 AM
Why didn't you link to my Art of Life review? :(

I introduced them to the forums, I want credit. :mad:

Permanent Solution
04-04-2005, 11:11 AM
Why didn't you link to my Art of Life review? :(

I introduced them to the forums, I want credit. :mad:
He did, at the very top :)

04-04-2005, 11:17 AM
This was a most sexcellent FA. A lot of effort went into this, and I learned quite a bit from it.

04-04-2005, 11:18 AM
He did, at the very top :)

There's another X-Japan review on Sputnik, too. It's a compilation.

04-04-2005, 11:19 AM
Great FA, DVG. This is a band I really want to hear more of. :)

Distant Echoes
04-04-2005, 04:15 PM
Defintaly a band i do want to hear. Nice FA.

I didnt read the entire thing, but to were they broke up, but did you mention that (i believe) they were offered a big record deal, but refused it since they were told they had to change their image. I think Thats a respectable move on their part...no matter what their trying to represent.

04-04-2005, 04:33 PM
Thanks for the comments guys =)

Iai: 's there - love you really.

Distant: I heard about that but could really find anything on it- but yea. any stuff anyone else can add, go right ahead.

04-04-2005, 05:05 PM
Excellent job. X Japan truely is the greatest J-Rock band, as far as I'm concerned.

Dr. Jake Destructo
04-04-2005, 05:26 PM

How, could someone post some mp3s?

preferably the non-30-minute ones, b/c I have dialup.

04-04-2005, 05:54 PM
That was a really good FA. I've never heard them, but I have to check them out now.

04-05-2005, 07:37 AM
Can someone please tell me if the keyboard solo was layered or not? One guy above said it wasnt, another said it was. I'd really like to know.

04-05-2005, 07:49 AM
Yes it was, it really, honestly takes four hands to play. They still played it live though, and im pretty sure Yoshiki dosnt have four hands, but obviously it can be played with two (obviously didnt play it note for note live)

04-05-2005, 08:24 AM
He used his foot.

04-05-2005, 10:07 AM
Good one, I downloaded Kurenai, it's pretty insane.

PIGS(1 different one)
04-05-2005, 06:46 PM
Nice featuted artist man, although it won't change the fact that I can't stand this band. :(

Freezing Moon
04-05-2005, 06:50 PM
I haven't heard them, but this was a great FA, so I might have to check them out.

PIGS(1 different one)
04-05-2005, 06:52 PM
Wait, is Hide a woman?????

04-05-2005, 07:50 PM

Butch Walker
04-05-2005, 08:05 PM
I'm currently addicted to 'X'

mr black
04-06-2005, 10:19 AM
yeah i stumbled across art of life a while ago, originally the person who named it said it was dream theatre. but that songs nothing short of epic

04-08-2005, 05:36 PM
After listening to "Art of Life" (which is awesome!) I formed the opinion that Dragonforce must have been heavily influenced by X-Japan :smoke:

04-08-2005, 06:38 PM
I only have Blue Blood, and I haven't given it a good listen yet. I'll dig it most probably, since I like J-Rock. Well-written FA:)

04-08-2005, 10:19 PM
I was goiing to buy Art of life and Blue Blood, but I think I might just get this:


Looks good

04-08-2005, 10:48 PM
Ooo... pretty.

Whale and Wasp
04-09-2005, 08:23 PM
can someone send me some x-japan please? (AIM or YIM: froggyy449)

i will worship you forever...

04-12-2005, 08:11 AM
I was goiing to buy Art of life and Blue Blood, but I think I might just get this:


Looks good
That's a Chinese bootleg. Might as well download it off the net.
X Japan were REALLY good, it's too bad they can't get together any more.
Personally, I like Blue Blood and Art of Life best followed closely by Vanishing Vision. I prefer the hard metal edge they had going (although Blue Blood does have Endless Rain)

04-12-2005, 08:14 AM
I dunno it looks pretty legit, I know chinise go through a lot of trouble to get their items looking real, but i doubt they'd put in a 14 page booklet with every CD.

Are you sure about it, because I was thinking of ordering it.

04-13-2005, 12:48 AM
Are most of their songs in Japanese? Only a few of their songs have (English Version) beside it. Not that it should make a difference, it just makes it seem harder to get into.
The music is pretty good though, surprised it came out a japanese band resembling Kiss that I've never heard of. Must've been popular if fans would commit suicided of their death. but then again, japanese people are known to do ****ed up things in proportion to the rest of the world(no offence, but muchosucko.com proves it all)

04-13-2005, 04:19 PM
4130, that is definitely a bootleg. All the CD labels and jackets are wrong, not to mention a funky decoration on the box to hold it all.
Metal Militia, their songs have a mix of Japanese and English, but mostly Japanese, especially later on. If you must have English, I recommend Kurenai on Vanishing Vision; that's the English lyrics version, as opposed to on Blue Blood.

Jay S. Bach
04-13-2005, 08:01 PM
This is a great post because I was actually thinking a while back, I've seen all these threads about metal from Norway, Denmark, etc., but what about from Japan? I knew there were some very talented groups out there, I just wasn't sure where to start. Are there any other metal groups from Japan that you'd recommend?

04-13-2005, 08:06 PM
X-Japan is a great band, and this was a great FA for a great band heh.

I only have The Art Of Life (which is brilliant) and Blue Blood...but I am interested in more.

04-13-2005, 09:14 PM
I just wasn't sure where to start. Are there any other metal groups from Japan that you'd recommend?

Erm, there are a few, yes, but there more pop-rock than anything else.

L'Arc~en~ciel (popish rock/metal)
The Loudness (Hair metal sorta)
B'z (i havnt heard this band, but thier guitarist has his own Les Paul Signature guitar - i think something like only 6 other artistis in the world have one)

There one other popular one... (Not Gackt. Gackt Suck.) it'll come to me.

Dir En Grey. 's the one. Yoshiki produced their first major album.
Luna Sea

04-14-2005, 07:45 AM
just downloaded art of life (live) = insane
,x japan = gods

04-14-2005, 02:17 PM
L'Arc~en~ciel (popish rock/metal)
They sound more like Radiohead than anything, though they're more accesible.

They're an awesome band either way. Ark and Ray are quality albums.

(Not Gackt. Gackt Suck.)
123 - though I'm pretty sure it's just one guy.

hide's solo work is meant to be great. Mad Capsule Markets' stuff from a couple years back (Osc-Disc was the album, I think) is worth a look too.

04-16-2005, 11:32 AM
I like Gackt...

04-17-2005, 04:59 AM
Awesome band. I love Art of Life. Great FA.

04-18-2005, 04:44 PM
Good article, though Art of Life remains pretty much all I've heard by these guys.

04-18-2005, 04:49 PM
Would it be heresy to say that i don't much like X-japan?

04-18-2005, 04:50 PM
In Japan, maybe. I think you're alright here.

04-18-2005, 04:50 PM

04-18-2005, 04:53 PM
Dir En Grey I liked more, though. They're good. Try to get ahold of the song "Child Prey" if you can. Crazy **** there. Someone once told me that X-japan was actually a group of Americans just singing in Japanese. Do we have a band called X-USA, I wonder?

01-25-2006, 10:29 PM
Good one, I downloaded Kurenai, it's pretty insane.

i agree. id just got this song, its pretty good.


04-14-2007, 07:17 PM
X Japan is an amazing. There are reunion murmers... Yes, even without Hide.

04-14-2007, 08:35 PM
Holy Crap I remember this thread! I lost my Art of Life when my Hard drive chrashed and now i'm annoyed >: (