Review Summary: I was a little sceptical at first that a band that had such a strong focus on their visual aspect might lack passion in their actual song writing, but I was proven wrong indeed and I now regard this album and band as one of my all-time favorites.
It's sad in a way to think that I never would have heard this amazing work of art had I had not decided on a whim that I would watch the anime Death Note. But I'm glad I did as not only am I now a fan of Japanese anime, but also surprisingly of a very talented band by the name of Nightmare. Having heard The WORLD and Alumina as the opening and closing to Death Note I listened to the two songs in their entirety and was hugely impressed with the instrumental work and visual appeal of the band. Wanting to hear more, I listened to a couple more songs off of the album and then was impulsively compelled to purchase it. I'm glad I decided to because the upon listening to the album in it's whole, I became instantly captivated by the sound.
Nightmare are probably one of the few bands that I have listened to where the rhythm guitarist functions as more than just a rhythm guitarist. The guitarists and the bassist always seem to be doing something completely different to each other but all in unity and melody. One of the best examples of this is on the song crevasse, the album's ballad. The drummer sounds very precise and focused throughout the entire album and makes some interesting and impressive rhythms (Gianism Shichi has an amazing drum track). The album is made complete by the singers amazing melodies. Yomi has one of the most impressive male vocal ranges I have ever heard. His most impressive performance on the album is probably shared by BOYS BE SUSPICIOUS and Alumina where he sends his voice soaring into the high range notes without it sounding shouted and broken which is quite amazing.
As a guitarist, this album has kept me entertained for hours on end trying to work my head around the strange riffs that Sakito and Hitsugi play (18sai gave me a lot of trouble). The WORLD and Morpho have beautiful guitar solos and ~lulu~ blew me away with it's genius combination of heavily distorted lead guitars and steel acoustic backing and piano. I love the use of piano, brass and ambience in this album as it really completes the melodies and takes them even further than just the orthodox vocal, guitar, bass and drum most often used in rock/metal bands (and past Nightmare albums). The album's only real let down for me is the song The FOOL which transitions Gianism Shichi into Alumina. At only 47 seconds in length and consisting of a bit of fast fretwork and the guitarists messing around with their pedals and whammy bars, it doesn't even seem like it needed to be on the album, or at least used in a longer song or perhaps as an intro to Alumina like PHANTOM is an intro to The WORLD. But this is a small complaint however and it's not exactly a bad song, just nothing special compared to the rest of the album.
I can't possibly neglect to review the albums art, one of the bands most important aspects is their visual appeal after all. My version of the album is wonderfully done with it's Gothic appeal and the band in their X Japan inspired costumes present in the album booklet. The skulls and roses contrast beautifully in the artwork and the deck of cards looking font against the star signs on the front cover looks great.
I suggest that you give this album a good listen as it is one of the most well written albums I have ever heard. Even though the album is almost entirely in Japanese (except for The FOOL and a couple of words) the power and emotion in the lyrics combined with the instrumental unity which at times speaks itself breaks the language barrier (english lyrics are printed in a second booklet in the album anyway). I thoroughly enjoyed this albums and it is one of my all-time favorites holding a special place in my heart I highly recommend it to fans of rock and to people who are in to experimental stuff, it's well worth a listen at least.