X-Japan - Vanishing Vision (Extasy) 1988
1. Dear Loser [instrumental] (2:33)
2. Vanishing Love (6:00)
3. Phantom Of Guilt (5:18)
4. Sadistic Desire (6:09)
5. Give Me the Pleasure (2:57)
6. I'll Kill You (3:20)
7. Alive (8:22)
8. Kurenai (Deep Red) (5:44)
9. Unfinished... (1:31)
"Vanishing Vision" is the debut studio album by the Japanese heavy metal band X. The band was formed in 1982 under the name X but changed their name to X Japan shortly after the release of "Vanishing Vision" due to confusion with another established band already called X. The album was originally released independently by the band on vinyl only but was released on CD in 1989.
The album is surprisingly much heavier than one might expect given the bands over-the-top glam look. Their hair was bigger than Nitro, they wore more make-up than Twisted Sister and were more androgynous than Hanoi Rocks and Poison combined. The band is said to have helped jump start the "Visual kei" movement in Japan which transcends music styles into punk, rock, electronic and pop music. Regardless of the look, the music is what counts and X Japan are a heavy metal band. "Vanishing Vision" contains several songs that can only be described as speed metal ("Vanishing Love", "Sadistic Desire", "I'll Kill You", "Phantom Of Guilt"). Each of these songs are fast but also contain dual guitar work, some symphonic elements and plenty of melody. Vocalist Toshi has a distinct voice with a heavy Japanese accent. In fact, some of the lyrics are in Japanese. With the exception of the instrumental opener, the heavier, speed metal tracks dominate the first half of the CD until track five. "Give Me The Pleasure" is an odd song that has band leader Yoshiki reading a monologue under some funky, slapped base lines from Taiji. The speed metal picks right back up with "I'll Kill You". The rest of the album is a mishmash of oddities including two ballads, "Un-finished" and "Alive". The later of the two is a dramatic song that begins as a piano-driven ballad and clocks in at over 8-minutes long. This song has a bit of a Queen flavor to it, especially in some of the lead guitar work. "Kutenai" starts off as ballad for the first minute and a half of the song before erupting into yet another speed metal number. The album ends with a short outro track that is just over 90 seconds long. This track ends abruptly, thus the title "Unfinished". I wonder if the song was shortened due to the time limitations of vinyl? The only thing that really lacks on this album is the production. I wish the guitars were more biting and a bit more forward in the mix. I found myself turing up the volume so that I could hear the guitars better.
Overall X Japan is a surprising album from a band who is obviously very talented and hell-bent on proving themselves. Apparently before this album was released the group was banned from playing in certain clubs and was not looked on favorably by many in Japans. Apparently the self-released album did so well for the band that the people were forced to pay attention. Despite being an independent release the album made the charts and initially sold more than 10,000 copies.
The rather disturbing cover art was drawn by Shiro Nishiguchi and is said to be inspired by the track "Sadistic Desire".