Blue Blood (Full-length album, 1989)
Performed by X Japan, Released by Sony Music
X Japan was a band that I really wanted to like—frantic and authentic heavy metal from Japan. Blue Blood, being the group's most touted release, seemed like a good place to begin. Striking up a downloaded copy of the classic '89 CD, I felt excited. But minutes into the first listen I felt that excitement wearing away. Whatever it was... be it Blue Blood's sound or the music itself... I couldn't get into it. Within weeks the album, along with a few other forgotten works sitting unsorted within my laptop's downloads folder, was deleted
Less years ago...
With some time to kill I was browsing YouTube, watching live sets by Helloween, Blind Guardian and other big-name metal acts. One video continuously popped up in the related section: X Japan's Last Live. I eyed the suggestion uncertainly, thinking back to my disappointing experience of years prior. But after viewing Helloween's “Hell On Wheels” performance I decided it was time to give X Japan another shot.
To my original sampling of X Japan the contrast was undeniable. From the onset of “World Anthem” I was hooked. Suddenly all of the energy I had been expecting to hear from Blue Blood was loud and clear. Whether it was the more soulful live sound or the sight of Yoshiki's neck-destroying headbanging, X Japan looked and sounded the way I had originally hoped. Enthralled and loving every minute, I watched the full concert video.
Days later I purchased Blue Blood to see how the album would sound with a refreshed perspective, and I realized that Blue Blood really is packed with rocking tunes. “Kurenai” and “Week End” are both filled with especially-explosive riffs. “X” became so much more enjoyable to listen to when envisioning thousands of crossed arms being thrown into the air, in time with every shout of the chorus. “Endless Rain” is a piano-led ballad which I don't entirely hate. The lively drumming drives the music at its high tempo and stands out at key moments on the album. Groovy basslines and high-energy solos are in no short supply. Frontman Toshi puts on a passionate performance with his high-pitched singing and shouting both wild and well-controlled. Musically, this is fun stuff.
Production is up for debate on Blood Blood. Truthfully it isn't bad; the studio sound just seems to stifle so much of the band's energy (which is put on display in some live performances). Perhaps it's unfair to compare an '89 audio recording to the professionally-shot concert gig, but the music on Blue Blood still feels a little lacking in album format.
Pushing just over the one-hour mark with little filler, Blue Blood is a nice piece of heavy metal. Its songs are unfortunately constrained by the studio recording, making (at least some) live recordings the recommended way to enjoy them.
-2 Awful, ruined it
-1 Took away from the experience
0 Okay, didn't leave an impression good/bad
+1 Added to the experience
Personal Bias: 0
Random Percentage: 84*
*Bump that up 10% for some live performances of these songs.
The Last Live Video. DVD. 2002.