Crush 2 Hits More Than it Misses
Crush 2 brings more ’90s visual kei up to date with a series of covers by the current representatives of the genre. Crush 1 was a mixed bag, between bands who truly made the classic songs their own, and those who believed covering was merely a byword for karaoke, and Crush 2 offers much of the same. All of the artists have done a stellar job in their efforts to match the talent of their predecessors. There were no spectacular car crashes like last time, but the success of some was a cut above the rest.
The most daunting cover of the album kicks things off. Kudos to Aoi for taking it on. How does one cover Gackt, a singer with a fabulous voice and a loyal following without crashing and burning? Aoi’s version is lighter in feel than the original and sounds like (post-mortem) Ayabie-does-Gackt with the flourishes of electronic with the stuttering guitar after the word “Mizerable.” But Aoi has pulled it off with a refreshing new “Mizerable” that pays homage to the original.
The 9Goats Blackout cover of “Speed” by Buck-Tick is really more of a remake than a cover but they capture the spirit of the original perfectly. Similarly, while the Hana Shounen Baddies’ cover of Pierrot song “Kumo to Ito” is not a much of a departure from the original, it is pulled off with panache and at times you can forget you are listening to Baddies. It’s not great as a cover, per se, but it is a treat for Pierrot fans. Sadly, v[Neu] who seemed perfect for TM Revolution’s “Hot Limit” disappoint. Rather than putting their own stamp on the song, v[Neu]’s version is weak, with a thin instrumentation that resembles a karaoke synth. This should have been one of the more fun songs on the album, but failed to meet expectations.
Megamasso’s “Rocket Dive” is a great track, though it’s a cover that stays true to the original material with a Megamasso twist that lends the song a lighter feel, to match the inherently cheerful lyrics. Inzargi’s vocals lack the louche snarl of hide, but his is a much perkier version and opens Crush 2 with a bang.
A major criticism of Crush! 2 and the previous album is the lack of experimentation of the bands: aside from a few brave attempts there is little risk taking and only a handful of artists went all out. It makes the album less of a cover album and more of an album of remakes. Many, R Shitei and amber gris to name two, would have benefited more from covering songs in their own unique style than producing note-for-note carbon copies with their own vocals.
That’s where Adapter, Chemical Pictures, and Moran who together provide three exciting covers, shine. Adapter took on CASCADE and put so much of their own character into the piece that the CASCADE version becomes a distant memory. All bleeps and odd、vocoded notes, Adapter thoroughly Atari-ised CASCADE and came up with a unique and fresh “FLOWER OF ROMANCE“.
CRUSH 2 is stable in the center thanks to Chemical Pictures’ beautiful and restrained version of “JAM” by The Yellow Monkey. Allowing Tenten’s vocals to carry the piece, a subdued synthesized instrumentation underpins the melody until the midway point, when the instruments join in with the march-like rhythm, enhancing the original tune through which the guitars and drums were present throughout. It creates a lovely center-piece to the album.
Moran, meanwhile, took a less playful and altogether darker, metal approach to “Illuminati,” opening on sinuous violin notes before an assault of dual-peddled drums. Heavy guitars crunch under Hitomi’s vocals before allowing the violin to take over for the chorus. The guitars are the standout here, particularly a neat bass solo playing with the Malice Mizer melody and spinning it into a piece that feels more sinister at points that the original.
CRUSH 2 hits more than it misses and some bands have shown real talent for the cover. Fans of the older bands should be pleased with the results, forming as they do a fitting tribute to some of the most memorable songs written in visual kei.
- Aoi (GACKT) “Mizerable”
- Annie’s Black (SOPHIA) “Gokigen tori ~crawler is crazy~”
- ADAPTER. (CASCADE) “FLOWERS OF ROMANCE”
- R shitei (DIR EN GREY) “Yurameki”
- amber gris (LUNA SEA) “SHINE”
- OZ (Rouage) “Shiroi yami”
- GUILD (SIAM SHADE) “Gureisharu LOVE”
- Chemical Pictures (THE YELLOW MONKEY) “JAM”
- ZUCK (Kawamura Ryuuichi) “BEAT”
- 9 GOATS BLACK OUT (BUCK-TICK) “Speed”
- v[Neu] (T.M.Revolution) “HOT LIMIT”
- Hana shounen baddies (PIERROT) “Kumo no ito”
- HERO (GLAY) “Yuuwaku”
- Blu-BiLLioN (La’cryma Christi) “Mirai kuro”
- Megamasso (hide with Spread Beaver) “ROCKET DIVE”
- Moran (MALICE MIZER) “ILLUMINATI”