X JAPAN - We Are X Soundtrack (International Version)

review - 05.11.2017 20:01

With the "We Are X Soundtrack", a slightly different from usual soundtrack has been released.

When the veterans of X JAPAN reunited, a storm of cheers rolled throughout the fan scene. Recently, the visual kei band delighted their fans with an intense live at London's Wembley Arena in March. Beforehand, many theaters around the world showed the documentary "We Are X", which recounted the band’s disbandment, reunion and the personal background of the members. On March 3rd, the film's soundtrack was released in Japan and worldwide. JaME listened to the 14 tracks of the international version.

The soundtrack begins with the emotional acoustic version of La Venus. This is the only real new track on the CD. All the other tracks have featured previously on other releases or were recorded in an alternative version. The second song, Kurenai from The Last Live, is already a pure classic and the first live recording on the soundtrack. Although you can hear the cheering fans clearly, they don’t dominate or distort the sound. The live recording is surprisingly well balanced and you not only hear the rhythm section and the fans but also the guitars and ToshI's vocals very well.

The soundtrack continues with the beautiful ballad, Forever Love, for which drummer and band leader YOSHIKI takes his place behind the piano and of course, the compulsory strings can't be missed on a sensitive ballad. Later on, PATA and SUGIZO also join in with their guitars. Although the track runs for more than eight minutes, the song never feels long-winded but is entertaining due to its arrangement. This song is followed by A Piano String in Es Dur, a short, instrumental piano piece which sounds melancholy at the beginning but later the tune turns into a more hopeful one, before it comes sinister and discordant at its closure.

The soundtrack continues with the energetic rock number Dahlia. The powerful guitar riffs, bass lines and drums ring mercilessly out of the speakers, inviting you to head-bang and ToshI's heavily distorted vocals complete this strong rock number. Only during the refrain, when ToshI's voice rings clear and the lyrics became softer, the track’s sound relaxes. The classic song from 1996 is rounded out through an interesting bridge part with various solos and entertaining synthesizers.

The ballad Crucify My Love features mournful strings, a melancholy piano melody and an emotional, touching performance by ToshI. The subsequent, predominantly instrumental, Xclamation begins with strong guitar and bass lines. No wonder, as the song was written by Taiji and hide, both deceased band members and virtuosos on guitar and bass during their life time. As the forceful drums join in the track turns more and more into a rousing rock number and takes X JAPAN fans on a successful trip back to the beginning of the band.

Standing Sex from X JAPAN Returns, the second live track on We Are X Soundtrack, follows. Like on Kurenai, this dynamic, fast number sounds pretty well-balanced despite the live background and makes a fun listen. The live track also emphasizes impressively the fact that X JAPAN are, and always will be, a band that realizes its full potential on stage.

After the trip into rock territory the visual kei veterans follow up the sensitive ballad with Tears. Once more the emotional piece is revalued by YOSHIKI's skillful piano playing and nicely completed with the chords of the electric guitars. Sounds of ocean waves and a very sad string melody accompanies the listener through the subsequent instrumental ballad Longing ~Setsuboou no Yoru~. Somewhere in the middle of the song sinister chords arouse feelings as if you were listening to a part of Elliot Goldenthal's music to the movie "ALIEN 3", but that doesn't last for long.

Art of Life -3rd Movement- promptly changes the mood. The fast rock number invites more head-banging but also features interesting, partly aggressive sounding piano chords, a strong bass line from HEATH and numerous guitar solos. The 3rd Movement is the most well-known part of Art of Life, a piece that originally had a run time of 30 minutes and got its own CD in 1993.

The next two songs, Endless Rain and X, have both been featured as live versions from The Last Live on the soundtrack. On Endless Rain, piano chords, ToshI's vocals and the other instruments echo clearly from the speakers. The cheers of the fans are also audible, but they don't overwhelm the instruments and vocals. In fact, the fan cheering fits in well with the atmospheric ballad. The obligatory moment in which the fans sing the refrain alone has been faded out, however.

The performance of X is a bit different. Here the crowd gets wild and raucous. No wonder, because the band’s anthem live is always a guarantee for frenzied head-banging and collective "X jumps". Like the previous live tracks, the fine mixing here makes it easy to imagine yourself in the live surrounding and let yourself get carried away for six minutes. An unplugged version of Without You closes the album, enchanting the listener one last time with its soft piano chords and emotional vocals. This version has been re-recorded and due to the reduced acoustic touch it feels more tender than the original version of this hide tribute.

With the We Are X Soundtrack, X JAPAN present a slightly unusual soundtrack symbiosis. It can neither be described as a pure score nor a real original soundtrack with its vocal tracks and due to the live tracks you even can't categorize We Are X Soundtrack as a studio album. Maybe the reason for this is the fact that the documentary unites many different moments of the band’s history and shows brilliant concerts as well as the inner life of the band members. Nevertheless, the soundtrack offers a balanced mix of tender ballads, rousing rock numbers and atmospheric live tracks. Those who haven't yet made their acquaintance with the music of X JAPAN will find the We Are X Soundtrack a wonderful introduction and for long-time fans it’s also worth purchasing for the two new recordings as well as the beloved classics.

You can purchase the We Are X Soundtrack (International Version) digitally on iTunes or the CD version on Amazon.

"We Are X" Movie Trailer:

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