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X Japan - We Are X album review

The X factor

Cover art for X Japan - We Are X album

The barely believable story that has fuelled the cult success of rockers X Japan in their own country has often dwarfed their music. But this soundtrack to their new over-the-topumentary redresses the balance.

Shorn of the larger-than-life visuals and the captivating enigma that is mainman Yoshiki, X Japan’s music is revealed as a studied, intense amalgam of late-70s/early-80s hard rock. Kiss are clearly a primary force, refocused with elements of Mötley Crüe and Hanoi Rocks, a healthy dose of prog, a frisson of LA hair metal and a soupçon of Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

So there’s plenty to hold your attention while you’re in the moment, although not much of it lingers long afterwards. This may be down to the Japanese language not really being geared to provide the kind of melodic or vocal hooks that Western ears seem to need, which could be a problem in X Japan’s bid for global domination.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.