The GazettE’s (Not-So-Legendary) Dark Album TOXIC
The GazettE have become something of a Super band in the realm of modern visual kei, given their 2010 performance in Tokyo Dome, which is something most of their peers have not yet achieved. They recently released their latest album, TOXIC, to much fanfare, the first since their move to the Sony label.
The album art is dark and reminiscent of the movie Saw, featuring an emaciated girl bound in unusual headwear. It gives off an uneasy feeling of something a little poisonous and dangerous.
The intro piece, “INFUSE INTO” captures the toxic notion well. With atmospheric, sludgy electronica, it creates a heady sense of foreboding and links seamlessly into the first song, “Venomous Spider’s Web,” as the spoken words of the intro become quick, robotic chanting. “Venomous Spider’s Web” holds a lot of promise, it is a solid piece with a bit of everything: rocking solos, interesting guitar effects, electronic elements, and an addictive beat.
The promise doesn’t entirely hold out, however, as the next few tracks pass by as blurs of heavy rock, although “SLUDGY CULT” does have an amusing refrain with Ruki chanting “sludgy baby.”
Throughout this album, the GazettE show a certain willingness to experiment, which should be applauded. “THE SUICIDE CIRCUS” is somewhat of an awesome Linkin Park tribute piece. From an R&B influenced introduction (slightly reminiscent of “Filth in the Beauty,”) the interesting mix of rap and rock takes after the American rockers, but with more hints of R&B to the sound. It’s a slick composition and a high point of the album.
Equally slick is “MY DEVIL ON THE BED,” although it is a very different beast. Distorted voices join together with an interesting, unrelenting drumbeat and strong bass-line to power a piece that has an altogether sinister but playfully dark sound. Nestled between these two pieces, the single, “SHIVER,” Kuroshitsuji II opening, comes off rather bland.
But the intrigue continues with “UNTITLED,” the better of the two ballads. This time, the band turn to trip hop as a base influence with gentle, bleepy instruments and a spacey, syncopated drumbeat. It’s a shame they reach for the big guitars blazing in the chorus, as it would have benefitted from restraint throughout. The other ballad, “PLEDGE” is a different show of styles but so very ordinary. There are strings, there are heart wrenching vocals, and there is a piano. It’s pretty to be sure, but also overlong and incredibly dull.
Finally, the wake-up call comes courtesy of “RUTHLESS DEED,” which feels like being hammered out of a slumber with a stark return to dark, fearsome sounds. Reita’s bass-lines throb like a pulse behind the minimal, restrained guitars while Ruki growls and whispers his way through. Yes, it is a little like DIR EN GREY, but it is also very good.
After some more brain battering, TOXIC ends with “TOMORROW NEVER DIES.” Sadly it doesn’t have the feeling of a final song. Listening to it, you don’t expect the album to end once it’s over. This is also where the venture into R&B pop falls down with messy transitions from lighter moments to heavy crunching guitars. It’s a bit of a damp squib of a finish, which is not improved by a fairly pointless outtro: “OMEGA.”
TOXIC has its moments and when it is good it is very, very good, showing neat flairs of creativity with a few outstanding pieces. Overall it’s an unbalanced album, and the ordering makes the transitions between pieces jolting. Maybe this is part of some greater concept of TOXIC, but I suspect not.
- INFUSE INTO
- VENOMOUS SPIDER’S WEB
- SLUDGY CULT
- THE SUICIDE CIRCUS
- MY DEVIL ON THE BED
- RUTHLESS DEED
- TOMORROW NEVER DIES