Released by: MMG Inc
Release Date: 1995
1 song 29 minutes
X Japan, a highly influential rock band in Japanese music history, faced various challenges and transitions over time. Initially formed in the 1980s, the group encountered significant obstacles, including the tragic loss of their original guitarist, Hide, in 1998. This event deeply impacted the band members and led to a temporary dissolution. After a period of hiatus, X Japan regrouped and continued producing music, engaging in successful concerts and releases. During this time, the band members also pursued individual projects and collaborated with other artists. Despite these intermittent breaks and alterations in the lineup, X Japan has retained a dedicated fan base both in Japan and globally, remaining pioneers in the visual kei and Japanese rock music scenes.
Art of Life, a 30-minute epic composed by X Japan, stands out as a formidable piece of music, encompassing the essence of what makes music a profound and captivating art form. Despite the potential pretentiousness of this claim, the song unquestionably lives up to its monumental title. Although my bias as a metalhead and a fan of X Japan is undeniable, my appreciation for these aspects is derived from the depth and richness they offer.
To me, metal represents a raw and primal expression of human art, often embodying the intensity of a primal scream or the desperation of a final struggle. It serves as a reflection of life-or-death situations, pushing one’s limits, and confronting overwhelming emotions or psychological trauma. X Japan, however, skillfully infuses their metal foundation with elements that evoke the feelings of young love, the serenity of a beach sunrise, the mystique of a city-lit snowfall, and the tenderness of a tear of joy. They masterfully blend the raw aggression with passionate beauty, creating a composition that traverses the extremes and everything in between.
The complete live performance of this song has only taken place on two occasions.
The song’s lyrics, penned in a second language, carry a poetic and evocative depth, particularly considering the emotional turmoil band leader and main songwriter Yoshiki experienced during its creation (he wrote this in his early 20’s). In his attempt to capture every emotion he felt, the lyrics resonate with themes of existential crisis, love, longing, and loss. They possess a universality that allows almost anyone to interpret the song in a deeply personal way.
One aspect of the song that initially eluded my understanding was the piano solo. In fact, It took some patience to understand it’s underlying beauty. However, after going through my own psychological and emotional challenges, I suddenly comprehended its significance. It became apparent how the piano solo encapsulated Yoshiki’s emotions, seamlessly integrating with the rest of the composition. This newfound perspective transformed my experience of the song, rendering the piano solo an indispensable part of its essence. While I don’t endorse the notion that one must undergo a particular experience to fully appreciate a piece of music, in this instance, it took my own journey to grasp its true significance. This is truly a masterpiece well done!!!
We had a chance to cover X-Japan back in 2017 when they toured in the UK at SSE Arena Wembley you can read our coverage of that one here.. and also recently we had the immense honor of being invited to cover Yoshiki at the Royal Albert Hall with his Yoshiki Classical 10th Anniversary World Tour with Orchestra Requiem.. read our coverage of that one here. Two amazing nights that puts the music of X-Japan into perspective.
Reviewed by: Shadow Editor