Best Visual Kei Bands
Visual Kei is a musical genre that has swept Japan since the late 80’s. Heavily comparable to the Western Glam Metal movement, Visual Kei and J-Rock began as a very musically diverse and visual genre. Old-School Visual Kei and J-Rock combined speed metal, glam, hard rock, heavy metal, pop, classical music (in some cases), punk rock and other experimental styles. Those looking for a list of New Visual Kei Bands, look elsewhere! This is a list of the Best Visual Kei Bands.
Very experimental type of Visual Kei band. Their music varies greatly from progressive rock, alt rock, hard rock, pop rock and punk rock. J and Inoran who first titled the band “Lunacy”, formed the band. Sugizo was recruited to play bass but switched to lead guitar later on. Their biggest break came from X-Japan guitarist Hide discovering the band and getting them signed on Yoshiki’s label Extasy Records.
Popularly known as one of the ‘Nazi’ Visual Kei bands, Rosenfeld heavily used Nazi imagery within their stage performances. This included the members all wearing Nazi armbands. Musically, they are pure, aggressive heavy/speed metal. The vocalist has an extreme vocal style, nearly death metal. Their hair, like most old-school Visual Kei bands, is epically large.
If you suffer from a severe case of Western Nazi-phobia, then this is definitely the band for you to check out. They are bound to piss you off. Don’t worry; you can leave a whiny comment on one of their Youtube videos stating how offended you are by their use of Nazi imagery.
The Dead Pop Stars
The punk-heavy metal Visual Kei band formed in 1992 by ex-Kamaitachi drummer Kenzi. The Dead Pop Stars are characterized by their strong and extremely violent stage behavior. They became notorious among the underground Visual Kei scene for their violent stage charisma. Hiromi from Rosenfeld was in the band line-up from 92-00’.
They were signed to a major label (VAP) and released D.P.S. but were back to the underground scene the following year. Definitely one of the most vicious live performances you’ll ever see.
Aion is most well known by their second incarnation marked by lead singer, Nov. Aion’s original singer, Hisayoshi can be found on the single “Hang On Night” and the first album titled “Deathrash Bound”. They were originally formed in 1983 by guitarist Izumi. Nov’s work first debuted on “Human Griefman”; however, Aion’s most successful work is marked by their 1992 self-titled album. They were one of the most successful Visual Kei bands of the early 90’s.
Their music stays within the Speed Metal, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock category and can range from full heavy head-banging epics to more intricate melodic ‘pop-oriented’ songs. In respect to image, Aion is another band with extremely large hair, particularly in their early days (with the exception of S.A.B).
Rommel is a heavy ‘thrash’ metal band. They are another popular user of the Nazi imagery. Guitarist Hisashi and Bassist Hikaru Utaka left X-Japan in 1986. Rommel was formed in 1987 in which period Hisashi went by the name “Shu”. The Nazi imagery was used for shock value (if you couldn’t guess by now) and the band remained an independent/unsigned act throughout their career. Their image is similar to X-Japan’s early days (1985) and is reminiscent of Wratchchild and Motley Crue (SATD).
The undisputed largest Visual Kei band, X Japan was originally formed by drummer Yoshiki and singer Toshi in 1982. X-Japan’s most infamous line-up is marked in 1987 by the inclusion of Bassist Taiji and dual lead guitarists Hide and Pata. Their first independent full-length album was released in 1988 and titled “Vanishing Vision”. Their breakthrough album “Blue Blood” followed the next year (1989) and is popularly considered X’s best album. By the time they released their third album “Jealousy” (1991), X-Japan was a Japanese phenomenon playing to crowds of 50, 000+ at the Tokyo Dome. They are the first heavy metal band to play and sell-out the Tokyo Dome.
X-Japan’s music includes everything from heavy speed metal, piano ballads, hard rock anthems, strong classical music influence, instrumentals and much more. They are credited with the creation of the Visual Kei genre, which takes its name from X-Japan’s early slogan found on the cover of Blue Blood “Psychedelic Violence, Crime Of Visual Shock”.
After Image combines the thundering stylings of speed metal with melodic keyboard work. Their music displays a vast amount of classical music. Think of them as a Neo-Classical Speed Metal band with great keyboard work. Also, they never had a drummer. They broke up in 2 years because they could not find a drummer and only released one EP. They perform live with a drum track.
Similar to Rommel and Rosenfeld, Mein Kampf used Nazi-Imagery for shock value. They were formed in 1985 and are classified within the speed metal genre. Mein Kampf was formed by Aion guitarist Izumi but split in 1986. Izumi reformed Aion with Dean from Mein Kampf.
The Japanese metal band formed in Tokyo in 1988. U.D.A and Ami were previously in the band Rommel. Their debut album “Do The Dirty” and their second album “Overdoing” was released under Extasy Records (X-Japan’s independent label). Extasy closed its doors and soon after the Tokyo Yankees’ popularity dwindled without the label’s support. Their most successful era was during the early 90s. The lead vocalist has a style of singing that’s reminiscent of Lemmy (Motorhead).
I actually have no clue how they sound, but they look Bitchin’!
Just kidding, their music is (like many old-school Visual Kei bands) speed metal.