X Japan
Blue Blood



by Hep Kat USER (124 Reviews)
June 26th, 2006 | 85 replies

Release Date: 1989 | Tracklist

Blue Blood marked the beginning of what X Japan was to become. It’s really as simple as that. No longer were they a mere speed metal act with classical aesthetics (as their debut album Vanishing Vision portrayed), but now the band had become more. Blue Blood was the genesis of X Japan’s transcendence into a state of near-perfection. To this day, it is widely acclaimed to be the band’s finest hour; their greatest moment.

In writing this review, I find I have quite the problem. It certainly isn’t easy, as X Japan are hard enough to describe as is. Furthermore, I’m sure no one wants to read a repeat of my previous foray into the band’s domain, simply reworked for a new album. So, where to begin with Blue Blood? Well, this is the album that first showcased X Japan’s gravitation to a more progressive, experimental sound. While it still retains plenty of heavy metal bliss, the emphasis this time was more on creating an experience. To create said experience, X Japan would embrace a more light-hearted sound on Blue Blood. The band also began to focus its attention on creating some of the most memorable metal ballads ever written.

Right from the album’s introduction, “Prologue (World Anthem),” can a listener notice the distinct differences in X Japan’s approach. This wonderfully melodic instrumental features some of the best guitar work on the album. X Japan’s string slingers, hide and Pata, seem to intertwine perfectly. Their playing is extremely staid when compared to the rest of the album; it’s almost serene. As the song continues, the music gradually fades away, to be replaced by a hauntingly distorted voice, who growls:

All of the hate and all of the sadness
have melted away
nothing remains here
closeby, I see love trying to take a shape
as I reach out for it
the love breaks up before my very eyes
everywhere, there flows... blue blood

There in lies the grand vision of X Japan’s music. While it’s both chilling and disturbing at times, so to is it calm and tranquil. The band’s new creative ideals are mostly due to the influence of pianist/percussionist Yoshiki. X Japan’s affinity for its new direction grew out of Yoshiki’s love of classical music. Speaking of said love, it’s certainly evident in Yoshiki’s musicianship; particularly when he’s behind the keys. Yoshiki is quite literally a master of his respective instruments. He’s also something of a musical genius.

These two qualities are displayed flagrantly on “Unfinished.” Blue Blood is the first album to actually feature the ‘finished’ version of this song. “Unfinished” was originally released on X Japan’s first album, in a form not unlike its name. The song was a little over a minute and a half long, and cut off abruptly. While the incomplete version made for a stunning album ender on Vanishing Vision, the whole thing is absolutely incredible as a conclusion to Blue Blood. Yoshiki’s piano work is sheer brilliance. It exudes emotion and depth, and manages to retain all sense of form throughout. Yoshiki is accompanied by his band mates (and even himself, multi-tracked on drums) as the song plays out, yet nothing can steal his thunder on the piano. Yoshiki’s (and the band in general’s) skills are also displayed most impressively on “Kurenai.” Like “Unfinished,” “Kurenai” is also a re-release of a song from Vanishing Vision. However, on Blue Blood “Kurenai” is performed by vocalist Toshi completely in Japanese, as opposed to English on Vanishing Vision. Unlike “Unfinished,” though, this ballad showcases the skills of Yoshiki as a drummer. Once again, the man can’t help but astound. Though his work maybe overshadowed slightly by the other instruments (particularly hide and Pata’s marvelous guitar work), Yoshiki manages to (once again) make his presence known, if only to those who have to listen that much harder.

“Week End” and “Endless Rain” are also built off of Yoshiki’s piano (the latter, in particular). However, both of these songs place more emphasis on the band as a whole, so Yoshiki doesn’t stand out as much. This is actually quite refreshing. These two songs show that the band can work together with a near telepathic link (the former, in particular). It’s a lovely thing to behold.

Blue Blood isn’t all art, though. Songs such as “Orgasm,” “X,” and “Easy Fight Rambling” (especially the former) show that X Japan can rock with the best of them (as well as write slightly debauched songs). On these parts of the album, the efforts of hide, Pata, and bassist Taiji are the main attractions musically. Taiji, while generally shunted behind X Japan’s other members scores plenty of impressive, yet subtle basslines on Blue Blood. His deep, rich sound has its own distinctive sound; one that happens to be damned impressive. hide and Pata prove, as usual, to be the perfect coefficients to each other. The duo sets up plenty of sonic mayhem on Blue Blood, but does so in a usually coherent fashion. Their furious, highly technical riffs mix with there swan-song solos in perfect synergy. This just helps X Japan create a deeper sound, that’s altogether easier to lose yourself in.

“Xclamation” and “Celebration” fall into a category that’s in-between the edgiest that Blue Blood has to offer, and the most tasteful. “Xclamation” is an instrumental of sorts (disregarding a little inaudible dialogue), which is one of the main forms of expression for the band. There are parts for every instrument here, but “Xclamation” quickly becomes Taiji’s domain, as it contains a fantastic bassline of his that quickly develops into a full-blown solo. “Celebration” actually sounds more like an 80s hair metal song more than anything. This is due mostly in-part to the flamboyant guitar work, and sheer sense of attitude that oozes from the song. “Celebration” is certainly the most accessible of any song on Blue Blood, and therefore the easiest to enjoy.

Up until now, I’ve been rather neglectful of X Japan’s front man, Toshi. That’s because Blue Blood has two wildcards that carry it to a realm of supreme excellence. One of them is Toshi’s fantastic multi-lingual vocal-work, which holds every song on the album together. X Japan just wouldn’t be the same without Toshi. The second wildcard is one that’s far greater than any one member of the band’s accomplishments. The second wildcard takes the form of the song “Rose of Pain.”

“Rose of Pain” is X Japan’s first attempt at writing a ballad with any “real” significance or meaning. The song is so majestic in scale, that I can’t help but deign it to be anything but an obvious precursor to X Japan’s masterpiece, Art of Life. Every band member pours their heart and soul into their performance on “Rose of Pain.” hide and Pata play with furious strength; Toshi belts anguished, yet meaningful lyrics (in Japanese); Taiji contributes his powerful bass-work; and Yoshiki performs admirably on both drums and with the highly refined organ introduction. “Rose of Pain” is an essential X Japan experience. I can’t recommend any song on Blue Blood, sans the beauteous “Unfinished,” higher than I can this one.

Blue Blood is an amazing album. It is quite possibly X Japan’s finest moment (and that is saying quite a bit). I can’t sum it up more aptly than an esteemed colleague of mine once did in reference to another masterpiece:

Fuck genres. If you like music, you owe it to yourself to hear this.

Recent reviews by this author
A.G. and John Robinson PenelopeFrank Ocean Blonde
Rahim Samad Free TransportationChinx CR5
Foxfires PinetumWati Heru and Kashaka Dystopia FM
user ratings (339)
other reviews of this album
watergold91 (3.5)
The gate to success, containing many of their best, timeless songs....

kwill15 (4.5)
Containing some of the band's best know classics, "Blue Blood" is an essential listen for any fan of...

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 27th 2006


Mmhm. Way to fill up the X Japan discography :thumb:

June 27th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review, as always. :thumb:

June 27th 2006


Splendid review Hep :thumb:

June 27th 2006


Yeah, great job blah.

EDIT: I'm not doing the thumb thing.This Message Edited On 06.27.06

June 28th 2006


Great review. I really want to check out this album, but I can't seem to find it anywhere. Erg. Hopefully I'll get my hands on it somehow

Manji Karame
June 30th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

My favorite X Japan album, I don't know how to explain it, it's just a great record, sure the production is awful but the songs are beautiful.

Great review by the way.

July 6th 2006


X Japan is indescribable, Endless Rain is the first song I've ever labeled as "Beautiful"

The most incredible album I've ever heard.

July 23rd 2006


Put your email address in your profile, and I'll send you it.

Took me long enough to see that.
Okay, I'm ready, yo.
It's the same as my Yahoo IM.This Message Edited On 07.23.06

December 25th 2006


This band looks like a bunch of retards. Looked up bass solos and their bassist came up and it was too distortioned or something was wrong with the amps because I couldn't make it out.

December 25th 2006


Settle down. I never said they suck, I have no clue what they sound like, dude. I just said they look funny and you can't deny that.

December 25th 2006


He's right, though.

April 27th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Absolutely brilliant album, and the most influential album in Japanese music history. True classic.

April 27th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Seconded. ^^

June 28th 2007



July 11th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty badass.

July 11th 2007


Amazing album, maybe better than Art Of Life.

August 22nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

This is an incredible album, but it isn't as good as Art Of Life imo

September 25th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

Felt short of my expectations, but it is very good and fun.

I just can't listen to it that much anymore, as it kind of grates on me. No denying how breathtaking it can be/is though.

I agree to this. I'm pretty sure this album would be one of those that I like, but won't really listen to often.

October 6th 2008


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

X Japan has always been one of those distant bands to me that a few people seem to praise, and I was looking for new music so I bought this on iTunes. Haven't rated it yet, but I'm really disappointed so far. Need moar listens... hopefully it'll grow on me.

May 9th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

This is probably my favourite X Japan album next to Art of Life. Songs like "X" and "Kurenai" are some of the best metal songs I have heard in a long time. These guys are metal legends, up there with Maiden and Priest.

Visual Kei is very odd for Westerners, but if you forget about the looks you can hear some truly incredible music. Songs like Endless Rain and Rose of Pain left me speechless the first time I heard them. Great stuff.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy