J-metal is a branch of Japanese music that says what it basically is…metal! They play hard, they play fast, and some play with a shock value that makes Marilyn Manson look like a Backstreet Boy! As a matter of fact, many j-metal bands probably use that as a yard stick so to speak. They’re wild, they’re crazy, and they can rock your world!
What many people don’t see in Japanese music is there are so many facets and genres that intertwine and thread around and through each other that it can get confusing…but fun! J-metal is one of the biggest and most well known in the States. The difference between us and them? They have a completely different mentality! For example, Metallic would never wear makeup or dress in costume…not even if the price was right! But Japanese musicians, J-metal included, can perform in any circumstance wearing a pair of 7 inch platforms, garters, and full on bedazzled jackets and still play hard and fast! That is awesome!
WARNING: You may notice later in other lists that some bands cross over many different genres. When this occurs (because it’s not a question of “if” but “when”) always keep an open mind.
So let’s get down to business! Here part 1 of the Most Incredible J-Metal Bands!
10. Malice Mizer
I put this band so high up in the list since the original members have long since moved on to other things. Gackt is the equivalent to God, Kami unfortunately died in 1999, and Kozi left in 2001. Mana, the Gothic Lolita guru, kept the band alive before embarking on Moi dix Mois. The band saw many changes since it was not only Gothic and dare I say carnival-like with harpsichords and strong piano with steely guitars, but then just went goth…and no, that is NOT the same as Gothic. I still love this band and for me the height of their popularity in the late 90’s will always be the best for this awesome band! (the singer in this video is not Gackt, btw)
I actually first saw this band on the cover of Cure magazine ( a Japanese rock and visual kei magazine) and thought they looked cool. To an outsider just getting into Japanese music, many are deceived. Girugamesh is technically visual kei but they are as heavy as you can get! Nowadays, the band has put aside their frilly leathery costumes for universal rock apparel and have become so popular that they now play venues around the world including the US (if you are in the know then you know this is a big deal!)
This band lies on the cusp between metal and rock (even though I am one of those people who could give a damn about separating them…I love them both and hate segregating them!). Their style is a subtle visual kei and their music is hard but not so hard that it leaves you damaged like many metal bands. I guess for many, the dark guyliner and black eyeshadow throws them into the visual category.
Yeah, when talking metal it’s hard not to have a band with “death” in their title. This band uses blood and lots of it to get their musical style across! And what’s better than one great metal band is when two great metal bands join together for an album! That is what Deathgaze did with #9 Girugamesh in 2007.
I only recently discovered this band but love their visual style! You see, what you have to get when watching the band after having listened to the band is what you see might not be what you thought when you heard them. Born is like that. They have devil horns, they wear liquid latex, and don makeup and falsies. It’s what’s popular in Japan and for many different groups so…there you go. You either love it or hate it but I doubt it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
Their goal, to scare the living hell out of you! Well, at least when they started. One thing I love about Japanese music is they love to experiment…with music! Yes, music! Their not afraid to explore into the unknown regions of electronica and pop/jazz which is what Nightmare does on occasion. It just proves that you don’t have to be chained to a stereotype even though that’s what a lot of fans like.
4. Maximum the Hormone
As with so many bands their name is both memorable and confusing at the same time! This band can rock so hard that they leave you with that gooey disoriented feeling that should be left over from an awesome metal performance! And these kids don’t play. They wear the gold plated grills, they head bang, and they mean it!
Another band I was introduced to through Cure. Sadly, this is one of those bands that also recently broke up. Another tragedy of the Japanese music scene. This band was a really extreme Malice Mizer band, not in musical style but fashion only they stepped it up a notch…that went to Mars! They stuck with their visual kei roots until the end which was in 2010.
2. The GazettE
What can I say about this band? I fucking love this band! There is no denying their staying power. Their music ranges from heavy to melodic and they have some of the greatest shows ever. They started visual kei and still maintain a bit of that gravity defying hair and garter belts, but it’s not what they wear it’s what they say. They say it loud and proud and give audiences exactly what they want! I guarantee when you hear “Filth in the Beauty” you will head bang until they feel it in China!
1. Dir en Grey
Even though I am more of a GazettE fan then a diruphile, I still really dig these guys. I’m not the authority, that would go to Leola, but I had to see them live to get it. And I suggest that to anyone who has ever heard their stuff and couldn’t get into them. Go see them live, they’ll change your mind! They’re hard and shocking and totally worth seeing before you die! The reason their #1…they have been around for 15 years, Kyo (lead singer) has blown out his voice numerous times but still keeps coming back for more! People admire them, I’ve seen some who worship them and some who copy them. I think that means a little something for their popularity!
So there are my first 10 Japanese metal bands! I know…I KNOW that most people will not agree with me on my list and that’s alright. Everyone has their favorites and there are many more bands out there that are worth a listen. If you guys have any suggestions for me or bands you’d like me to check out, just drop a message below. Just no shout outs please…they do nothing for me or my figure!