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Guiltless Visual-kei Bands?

Not that you should feel guilty about what you listen to, but there are certain breeds of music that bear a stigma. Visual-kei is a movement amongst Japanese (predominantly) rock/metal acts where they dress up in flamboyant costumes and wear their hair big and sprayed all sorts of ridiculous colours a la glam rock. It's a highly marketable style and a lot of bands rely solely on their visual appeal and play really generic and derivative music (see: DIAURA, Mejibray, post-DIM the GazettE, Deluhi, Moix Dix Mois, Blood, Vistlip etc... just my opinion of course but if you've listened to at least one Dir En Grey album or any one song by Malice Mizer you'll see what I mean). Of course, just because there is a lot of terrible music in the movement, does not mean that this is entirely the case. Here are some visual- kei acts that I believe are well worth their salt.
1X Japan
Art of Life

One of the biggest names in visual-kei (hell, even Japanese metal in general) are undoubtedly
X Japan. Often cited as the Godfathers of visual-kei, X Japan are well known for their speedy
and theatrical prog-metal as well as their emotionally powerful ballads. Their world famous
ep, Art of Life, is what I believe to be their crowning achievement and a culmination of all of
the best parts of their work. Hell, I'm not alone, it's on the Sputnik "all genres, all time"
chart. [Progressive Metal]
2Luna Sea

Alongside X Japan (whom the group were a prodigy of) Luna Sea were one of the biggest
forces of the visual-kei scene in their hey-day and greatly responsible for pioneering the
movement. Their style of music is a glittery alt-rock/prog rock fusion combined with elements
of post-punk to create an erratic and yet elegant style that is very much their own. Mother is
a visual-kei classic, but Image and EDEN provide a better look at the sound that makes the
band truly special (be prepared for a lot of chorus and reverb on the guitars). [Alt
rock/Progressive Rock/Post-Punk]
Kurutta Taiyou

One of the most prolific (although their influence has waned significantly since) acts in the
visual-kei scene are Buck-Tick. Also cited as one of the godfathers of visual rock, Buck-Tick
have an intriguing (albeit somewhat hard to swallow) Gothic influenced rock flavour with Post-
Punk inclinations. Defined mostly by Hisaishi Imai's frequent use of strange effects and
theremin and frontman Atsushi Sakurai's wicked stage-presence, romantic and dark lyrics and
his God-gifted baritone. Buck-Tick are easily one of the most interesting to listen to of the vk
big names. [Rock/Gothic/Post-Punk]
4Dir En Grey

Death Metal goliaths Dir En Grey are a major part of the Visual-Kei scene, gaining reputable
note in both their home country and overseas. They have recently begun tapping into western
influences in their music, masterfully combining their traditional Jrock appeal with western
metal. [Death Metal, Progressive Metal]
5Plastic Tree

An odd little enigma from visual-kei's teenage years. Plastic Tree have a hard to nail down
sound (best to play it safe and umbrella it as "alt-rock") they play some highly addictive Jrock
with a faint hint of shoegaze tones on the guitar, heavy bass and Ryuutaro Arimura's bizarre,
child-like vocals. [alt-rock/very, very, very subtle shoegaze and noise rock tenancies]

Easily one of the most popular visual-kei bands, though they're not really so much a visual-kei
band any more. Poppy, catchy rock music with superbly tight writing and musicianship. Every
individual member shines in their own way. [Pop Rock/Discovolante-core]
7Malice Mizer

Perhaps one of the only acts in the visual-kei scene that were clever enough to make their
theatrical costumes part of their act in a big way. Rather than dressing up for the hell of it,
Malice Mizer would use their costumes to play characters and create a story that immerses
with their music on stage. Their sound is, fittingly enough, highly theatrical progressive rock
and gothic neo-classical (sometimes, along with Buck-Tick, referred to as Dark-wave). Their
earlier work had a lot of french influence. [Progressive rock/neo-classical/art rock]

Symphonic power-metal group with strong emphasis on aestheticism. Very similar in ways to
Malice Mizer. It is also worth looking into the solo career of vocalist Kamijo, stay away from
Jupiter though. [Power metal/neo-classical]

Despite their flair and general sense of originality having waned significantly since they
abandoned the VAP label for Avex Group, Nightmare still stand as being one of the most
entertaining and respectable of the new wave of visual-kei groups that grew up listening to all
of the big names. Their sound is an erratic and ambitious alt-rock/metal with progressive
tenancies. Livid is the band's most complete sounding work while the WORLD Ruler stands as
their big melting pot of ambition with experiments with brass, ambience and electronica as
well as an overall gothic feel. [Alt-rock/progressive rock/metal]

Though not the strongest overall, metal outfit MUCC do have their moments. Best for enjoying
with your mates at parties rather than on your own in deep thought. [metal/anime-core]
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