Bands Who Were (or still are) Visual Kei

Throughout my long love affair with J-rock (Japanese music for those who have never read the blog) there have been changes.  Many changes. You see, the Japanese don’t like to dwell on things longer than five minutes or as long as it takes to get married on the corner by the pay-by-the service automated court certified nuptial vendor. So, sad to say, many j-rock bands cannot climb out of the hole that many trendy teenage social whores dug for them.  Many, however, start visual kei (which is a very hard thing to describe but I’ll try later on) but then manage to either hold their own amongst the lightning fast tastes of the Japanese music industry or change their image without loosing their fan base.

I have a small list of such bands.

We’ll start with Leola’s and my own current favorite band.

The Gazette

I put them on this list for the solid fact that it doesn’t matter what any crazy Avant Garde fashion designer puts on them they still look incredible.  Yet, happily, they sound amazing!  So go ahead and where that top hat that makes you look like the Disney version of the Mad Hatter, wear those shiny, jewel encrusted silk suits, and continue to sing about naughty adult activities…you must be doing something right!

Buck Tick

Talk about staying power!  This band has been around longer than Leola’s been alive and they still have an incredibly large fan base.  At first, they were in the 80’s spiked hair scene which is cool because it made them almost two feet higher than usual.  Since I don’t like to talk about what happened in the 90’s we will leave that alone and then we come up to now!  They now deck out in Fendi and still rock our world!


Oh yes.  He couldn’t escape this list.  I still consider him visual kei, but not to the extent he was with Due le Quartz…yeah, not even close.  Only a young spring of a thing while in Due le Quartz, Miyavi has proven to have calmed down tremendously (I still have the video of him in a gaudy outfit dancing in a grassy field with a broken umbrella and a shopping cart) to the sensational guitarist that I had hoped he would continue to be.  And his popularity…go to one of his concerts.  That should explain everything!


This band might actually want to hide the fact they were visual kei…but then again I don’t think they have  shame in this profession.  Luckily, their visual kei phase was short lived. This band is hardcore and we love them!  Simple style, you know…black.  I just glad they dropped the face masks…what is with that?


 My favorite of all time!  This Japanese juggernaut started in Malice Mizer and hasn’t stuck with a hairstyle yet!  My first image of him was in a pair of vinyl hot shorts in platforms crawling on the ground.  I like the Armani suits and leather jackets now.  Though Gackt’s image has evolved enormously over the last 16 years he has managed to maintain almost his entire fan following since everyone loves him that much.


This is an incredibly visual kei band.  Kamijo, the lead singer, has worn every Victorian, Edwardian, Elizabethan, Georgian, and fantastical costume there is and more!  And it is deceptive.  You think their music is soft, easy listening elevator music because their might be a harpsichord involved?  You would be gravely mistaken!  Since the tragic passing of Jasmine You (we still think of ham sandwiches in a different way…they could save lives people!) the band is trying to regroup so cross your fingers this band does not fall to the wayside like so many.

Dir En Grey

You think that as one of Leola’s friends that I would leave this out.  Their visual kei years were my visual kei years.  I mean, they look better in dresses than I do and I think I look pretty damn good in them.  However, they only really stuck in visual kei for a few years (though Toshiya stills likes skirts) and then went even more bad ass which is wise cause I doubt I would have found Kyo as frightening if he was wearing guyliner and a sparkling one piece spandex outfit.  Sure he would have had blood dripping from his mouth but he still would be wearing guyliner and a sparkling one piece spandex outfit.


I am not going to say much here…it should be a given.  You cannot kill X-Japan now, they have a martyr sothey are stuck in a perpetual state of infamy for the rest of eternity and beyond.  But they did have a style to them…for sure!


 Admit it.  You giggled a bit.  Screw (stop laughing) is a very fluctuating band and I say that in they have a more mild version of visual kei (I think I just made it sound like a disease!)  Their musical style isn’t as heavy as some others but their clothing is very relaxed (sometimes) by j-rock standards.  I do like how they coordinate in some instances…reminds me of the 60’s matching outfits.


 These guys rank up their with Versailles in style.  They cranked it up to 11 on the gaudy scale!  And their music is very similar.  I have noticed that the more visual kei your band, the heavier the sound of the music.  Do the feathers in your collar give you bad ass bass playing skills or the tighter your black leather body suit the harder you play or do the garters on your thigh make the weight of you beat foot that much heavier?


 I have had people ask me if the name had something to do with the Mayan calendar and I said it was probably the price they paid for a bucket of KFC that one Christmas. This is kind of a relaxed band compared to some on out there.  They have a pop in their step and a jive on their chains that hold their pants to their white studded snake skin jackets.


Sadly, they just barely made the list.  They did break up this year…one of the many fatalities of the aforementioned music scene.  But to show how much I am going to miss them I shall include them.  There were flowers involved, there were skirts, fish nets, and top hats.  And they mostly stayed within a red, white, black color scheme.  Sorry if this one falls kind of flat…I’m slowing taking the dagger out of my betrayed heart.


Bandanna ascots, police hats, eye patches, and the propensity of using eyeliner to demonstrate their awesome tribal tattoo skills make up the majority of this bands style.  This band also manages to have a “premajor” era indicating success and staying power of some type.  However, one of the guitarists has so much metal in his face he is a safety hazard in local airports, retail stores and is probably turned away at churches for being able to channel Satan.


Paint splatter? Goth attire?  Straight jackets?  Who cares?!  This bands kicks ass and has done so for over adecade.  The band combines many looks from oriental to emo goth and yet has the ability to move on when something gets tired.  I just wouldn’t want to run into them at my local laundry matt.

As this is no where close to being a complete list so please check back because next week they will have three new bands and two who are retiring after only three years and two albums.  Sad fates do happen.

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