18th March, 2009
Usually my album reviews are labeled “first impressions” instead of “reviews” because I think it’s an interesting angle to compile my first thoughts on an album during my initial hearing of it; impressions of music are more prone to changing over time and a tenth hearing may very well be different from a second hearing. But that theme doesn’t really apply here as its a compilation album! HYDE’s first solo compilation album, uninspiredly entitled HYDE, contains all of his singles, as well as a few popular tracks from his four existing albums.
So that portion of his discography isn’t really isn’t something I listen to often. There are a few songs I like, sure, but the majority is kind of just “eh.” Still, compilation albums are a good way to revisit things, right? I figure, what the hell.
TRACK 01: Made in Heaven
As Faith is my least favorite HYDE album, I don’t remember this song very well at all. There’s a nice guitar opening; intro vocals are pretty typical of HYDE’s solo work, though a bit rough and forceful. This is in Engrish, but I can’t understand much beyond a word here and there. I kinda feel bad because it sounds like he’s trying so hard. The chorus doesn’t stand out much and sounds pretty awkward with the poor Engrish. It leads into the second verse with little pause; meanwhile, the music in the background isn’t very interesting as it isn’t changing up much. Most of this song blurs together for me, including the end.
TRACK 02: It’s Sad
Another song from Faith. Really neat guitar opening… opening vocals are again forced and rough, not my favorite style for HYDE, but the guitars remain interesting, uptight, and suspenseful. Chorus is a more typical sound, but I’m much more interested in the guitars at the moment. Vocals lighten up a bit in the second verse; the Engrish feels more casual and confident, but I still can’t understand most of it without a lyrics sheet. Bridge includes a female vocal mixed in with some speaking parts from HYDE and then another chorus. I find it more jarring than anything else though; HYDE’s goal with Faith was to stir some deep, soul-felt emotions, but I’m too caught up in the technicalities here. This is not HYDE’s best vocal work, and the guitars don’t really save it in the end.
TRACK 03: Evergreen [Dist.]
“Evergreen” from ROENTGEN is actually a solo song I like! And the Engrish version from ROENTGEN.english is actually mostly understandable. This rock version is also in Engrish and was first released as a B-side on the “Countdown” single. All the guitar distortion masks over the vocals though, making it harder to hear. Not sure if I like that, but it does give the guitars a solid limelight. The chorus guitars seem to be a little off from the vocals. …It really bothers me that HYDE doesn’t pronounce the “m” in memory… it’s kind of an important sound. There are some drawn-out sounds in the bridge and it fades into a nice guitar solo and then end. Ehh, neat, but not my favorite version of Evergreen. I’ll stick with the original.
TRACK 04: Jesus Christ (YouTube it)
Another one from Faith. I’ve always remembered this one as my least favorite from the album. The Engrish is also pretty understandable in this one, but that makes me uncomfortable to some extent since I’m not too fond of the subject matter. The vocals don’t seem to match up well with the music and there doesn’t seem to be much of a melody. The falsetto in the chorus is beautiful, but there’s still no melody. There’s a lenghty solo between the first chorus and the second verse, and then they add a nice piano tune. Unfortunately, the piano really just adds to the chaos of other sounds and still, nothing sounds particularly cohesive. Still… as we move into the second chorus and that lovely falsetto, the emotional power of the song starts to really seep through. HYDE is really into it and that shows. I’m not into religious music, but I guess it is somewhat moving to hear someone else invest so much energy into it.
TRACK 05: Countdown (YouTube it)
Next song on Faith. Geez, way too much of this album is stuff from Faith! D: This is the first song with Japanese in it though, so hurray for that. I much prefer HYDE’s vocals in Japanese because they sound infinitely more natural and therefore not distracting. That isn’t to say there isn’t still Engrish here, but it isn’t overwhelming… and because there is Japanese, we can pretend that his Engrish is still Japanese and not try to decipher his words. Vocals are pretty typical here and don’t change much as the song progresses. I’m not too fond of the music here; it’s like the previous song in its mish-mash of sounds without a distinct melody. Outro has some spoken parts that are out of place, then buzz out to end. I’m remembering why Faith is my least favorite album.
TRACK 06: The Other Side
Hey, I have no idea where this song is from! Hard guitar intro, though it still sounds muddied. Strong vocal intro, but the energy fades quickly. Melody is a bit clearer now though, and the first verse sounds pretty nice. Guitar and vocals match up nicely; lyrics are in Engrish, but fairly understandable (not quite up to Evergreen’s level though). Chorus is forceful and energetic, but I don’t like the music there until the vocals end and it’s a solo to the second verse. Vocals and Engrish are very clear at the second verse; I really like the rhytmn guitar here, but the lead is distracting. Second chorus is slightly less conflicting than the first as the music in the background matches up a bit better. Buzz out to end. Wish I knew where this song was from?
TRACK 07: Shining Over You (YouTube it)
Finally! A song from 666, my favorite HYDE solo album! (Is it too ironic that my favorite and least favorite HYDE albums should be titled as they are?) Awesome violin intro and sweet vocals full of falsetto. There’s a nice countermelody in the background music to match the main melody of the vocals. Verse is Japanese to counter the Engrish in the chorus, which is actually what the song starts off with, and there are some pretty awesome parts where HYDE is harmonizing with himself. Again, I enjoy the Japanese a lot more than the Engrish, and the Engrish goes back and forth a lot in this song — sometimes it’s pretty clear, and sometimes I have no idea what he’s saying. There are some neat bass lines in the verses too though. Bridge is kind of drawn out; slow outro and then fade out. Oh, hey, this thing is six minutes long, but I didn’t notice at all.
TRACK 08: Horizon
Another one from 666. Nice and calm intro with relaxed guitars and a strong voice; lyrics are in Japanese. I like the forcefulness of HYDE’s voice here — in songs like “It’s Sad,” I feel like he’s trying too hard, but here, he just sounds really, really into it. Verses have some gorgeous falsetto, and I really like the beginning of the chorus. Love, love, love the guitars in the bridge; the drums there are pretty fun too. The verse after the bridge is probably the best part of the song. There’s some vocal distortion and canon leading into the final chorus that’s pretty badass too. Not too fond of the repeating lyrics in the outro, but ah well.
TRACK 09: Season’s Call
Back to Faith. This is the fifth song from Faith and we’re only on track nine. Oh well. “Season’s Call” has a nice, soft guitar opening that leads into some more energetic riffs. Opening vocals are also good, energetic in that reserved kind of way. HYDE’s voice is really beautiful here; lyrics are in Japanese. Falsetto seems kind of random though, and I’m not too fond of the melody as we get halfway through the verse. It just sounds kind of awkward. Kind of blah chorus, but once we get to the second verse, everything’s spiffy again… until about halfway through! Oh, weird, random Engrish after the second chorus as we get into the bridge… the sounds in the background are getting chaotic again. It’s creates an uncomfortable, kind of itchy-scratchy feeling. Ugh, not fond of the continued Engrish. Kind of just want the song to end now… why is this five and a half minutes long.
TRACK 10: Sweet Vanilla
Back to 666. Rock guitars are rockin’ out. Oh, man, I love how the vocals in this open. It’s Engrish, but wonderfully understandable, and then it moves back to Japanese. The difference in sound between this and the previous are so obvious, and it’s the difference between the two albums. The chorus goes back to Engrish, but again, it’s understandable, and the lyrics are really sweet in that cute sort of way, which is particularly amusing since the Japanese portions of the verses are really badass sounding. The vocals in this song are pretty much everything I love most about HYDE’s voice. Everything sounds genuine. The “believe me, believe me,” are probably the best part. The guitar melody in the bridge isn’t really that interesting, but it’s fun and works well for the mood of the song. Final chorus ends on kind of a forceful note and the song ends soon after that, but I definitely remember this being a great opening track for 666. I still like it a lot.
TRACK 11: HELLO (YouTube it)
This is the second track on 666 and thus correct follows the previous song. Annnd… “Hello” is my favorite HYDE song overall. I love the energetic guitar intro and the mood it creates — it’s very nostalgic feeling. HYDE’s opening vocals really pick up that mood well; it’s forceful in bursts, but eases into more relaxed notes in between. The lyrics are in Japanese and just feel good. I love the way it moves into the chorus here~. <3 The melody in the chorus is also very memorable. The verses here really show off HYDE’s lower registers, so it’s a nice break from his falsettos. Second verse leads into a bit of distortion and some typical synth stuff, but it’s a nice intermission before we get to the build up to the final chorus which contains a bit of Engrish. The final chorus feels a little less energetic than those before it, but the sincerity of the voice doesn’t fade. Wind down, wind down. Ends with the name of the song.
TRACK 12: Hideaway
This is the closing track for 666, now we’re even with five and five for both Faith and 666. This opens with a really homely sound. Japanese and Engrish interchanged frequently; love the energy, liveliness, and sincerity here. Guitars are simple but effective. Some steady drums into the second verse. The Engrish is only understandable in bursts, but it isn’t very distracting. The overall feel of this song is very American punk rock to me. It has the same kind of challenge the world mood to it somehow, and honestly, the lyrics don’t make it seem that far off. Really enjoyable song overall.
TRACK 13: Prayer
Sixth song from 666 now, oh snap! Kind of an awkward opening: heavy guitar in between long silences. Then, consistent heavy guitars and a vocal intro you don’t really notice until several seconds in. Serious business kind of sound… at least until the next punctuated silence, then it just sounds kind of normal? Still lovin’ the vocal quality here, though the Engrish lyrics aren’t as nice as far as understanding go. Subject matter-wise, this song probably wouldn’t do too terribly on Faith, but the sound is much more classic HYDE than the rest of the stuff on Faith. The melody is solid and cohesive, though the guitars aren’t all that interesting. Really… even though HYDE’s vocals are pretty nice here, the rest of the song really bores me.
TRACK 14: Midnight Celebration
Seventh song from 666! As much as I do like 666, this is kind of silly since 666 is only a ten-track album! I’ve always found “Midnight Celebration” to be kind of a hilarious song because it’s just so stereotypically… vampiric. Still, it’s a fun and energetic song with a strong opening and very understandable Engrish lyrics. The chorus is my favorite part; it’s great ’cause HYDE sounds so darn serious, but the vampiric overtones of the entire song just make me laugh. Bridge is pretty typical, but the guitars are nice to listen to regardless. The energy throughout the last round of choruses wraps things up nice and neat at the end too.
TRACK 15: Unexpected [Dist.]
Rock version of the original song on ROENTGEN; similar to the version of “Evergreen” above, this version was released as a B-side on the “Season’s Call” single. Kind of a boring intro that leads into some awkward, distorted vocals. Vocals remain distorted and music remains boring — it’s really hard to even tell if the lyrics are in Japanese or Engrish, but I know them to be Engrish. Finally get to something resembling a chorus about halfway through the song; vocals become undistorted, but the Engrish is still difficult to understand. The vocals do have some nice energy here, but the music isn’t really helping. It slows down significantly again and almost seems to end, but then it leads on into the bridge, which sounds kind of odd because it actually has a decent melody. HYDE’s vocals echo through it, but the longer the bridge goes on for, the more boring it gets? Kind of just want it to end now, but it’s another five minute song. Argh. Outro takes forever to fade out too.
TRACK 16: The Cape of Storms
Third song from ROENTGEN, but not a later released rock version. Intro has a very classic feel to it. Lyrics are in Engrish and pretty hard to decipher except for a word here or there. Melody and vocal quality are pretty nice here, though I also find the melody to be kind of plain and uninteresting. Tempo slows significantly as we get into the first verse; mood gets very mysterious and suspenseful. There’s some interesting use of different instruments here as well, like harmonica and something that sounds kind of like a marimba? Chorus returns with the uninteresting melody; HYDE’s vocals are emotional and feel sincere enough, but it’s bordering on that “trying too hard” kind of feeling. Second verse is slow and I’m really getting bored. Five minute and forty-five second song is so long~. D;
TRACK 17: glamorous sky [English version] (YouTube it)
This is probably the song I was most excited about when I glanced over the track list. I love “glamorous sky.” I love Mika Nakashima’s vocals on it, but hearing HYDE sing the song was really interesting too. I didn’t know there was an English version of it though?? Excitement here! Intro is odd and disorienting for all of a moment, and then the vocals start. The sound is very, very different here — the music is much more rockish, the tempo’s faster, and HYDE’s vocals are weird! The lyrics are strange and I can’t understand anything that wasn’t already Engrish in the original. Well, I guess “ano” in the choruses turned into “I know” something, but beyond that is beyond me. The difference in the guitars in the back is really, really throwing me off — it sounds a lot more like a DDR song because the melody is so much more forceful. I have mixed feelings about the vocals; the quality really isn’t HYDE’s best and the lyrics continue to sound strange.
Haha, “nemurenai yo” turned into “I won’t be sleeping.” I guess that works out?? It’s always interesting to see how much of the original meaning carries over since they’re usually more concerned about preserving syllables than translation. The bridge sounds really weird this sped up; the lyrics get a little more understandable, but … not really. The parts that match up well with the original translation are the parts I pick up more easily. The last round of choruses are all right; the slightly slowed tempo doesn’t particularly help the awkwardness of both the lyrics and the guitars though. What a weird way to end this album. What I really want to hear now is Mika Nakashima singing this version of the song though… and perhaps we can wrestle some kind of duet out of them. That would be hot.
OVERALL: Really, I don’t know what the point of releasing this compilation album was… HYDE only has three albums to his solo name! This compilation was unnecessarily long and contains more than half of both 666 and Faith. Really, you might as well pick up those original two albums! It doesn’t have nearly as much as ROENTGEN, which might be legitimately harder to find, except that two of three included tracks were re-released rock versions, so that’s kind of a moot point? The only real point of interest was the last track, which would have probably done just as well released as a special single or as a B-side to another single. The timing of this release also feels weird — I mean, HYDE just got together with K.A.Z to make VAMPS and they’re touring, so why’s he reminding fans of old stuff instead of pushing his new stuff? (Oh, man, VAMPS cover of “glamorous sky,” why is this so awesome.)
Oh, well. It’s not a bad album if you’re looking to hear a decent cross section of HYDE’s solo work, but if you’re already familiar with his solo work, then there isn’t really a long enough history to reminisce over here.