X-Japan - Blue Blood
Sony Records
Power / Speed Metal, Visual Kei
12 songs (65:09)
Release year: 1989
Reviewed by Kyle
Archive review

It often happens that, with a certain album or song that I love, I get stuck in sort of a musical rut when I listen to the particular piece in question on an almost constant basis. At the moment, the song / album that I just can’t seem to rid from my life is X Japan’s Art Of Life; within the past month or two, I’ve found a newfound love for the song, and now it’s getting very close to becoming my favorite song of all time. Only one problem: Normally, when I listen to a song constantly like this, it unfortunately grows stale because I barrage my ears with it too often, and I’m forced to shun it from my regular listenings until the mood once again strikes me to dig it up again; this could be months or even years down the line. So for now, I’ve pushed Art Of Life away to prevent it from growing old; not completely, as I simply can’t stay away from such an amazing work of Art for too long, but just enough to focus on more material. So with ears turned away from that album for the moment, I lay them upon Blue Blood, the very first X album I ever came across.

In a way, Blue Blood is, alongside Dahlia, one of the defining albums of X Japan’s career. Vanishing Vision has the up-tempo fun, Jealousy displays the evolution of the band towards a more mature, progressive sound, and Art Of Life showcases X at their very peak, but Dahlia and this album somehow feel the most “True”. It seems that with both records, the band feels the most solid with who they are and where they’re at musically, having an almost laid back feel while at the same time creating emotional, diverse, masterful music. Blue Blood is also a defining album because it contains what I believe to be X’s “Theme song” of sorts: World Anthem. The majestic melodies give the impression that this really could be a national anthem, if the band had incorporated lyrics in with it, but alas, this is only the album’s intro. It’s easily my favorite intro track to any album, ever, but World Anthem also serves as a lead-in to Blue Blood’s title track. One of the most exceptional straight-up speed metal tracks the band ever recorded, Blue Blood is an absolutely frantic rush of loud, strained vocals from Toshi and quick-fire drumming from Yoshiki, with some subtle yet amazing lead guitar melodies from Hide occasionally popping up beneath the madness. The solo in particular is just stunning, featuring simple hooks while at the same time showing some surprisingly complex playing, building and building until a final high-pitched note is wailed out on one of the highest frets and the song breaks into the chorus again.

While Blue Blood doesn’t feature as many of X Japan’s best songs as, say, Dahlia, it is a very consistent record as a whole, and there’s hardly a song on here that falls short of greatness. Some songs are very Japanese in flavor, with poppy vocals and static power chord riffage (Week End, Easy Fight Rambling) while others carry on in the speed / power metal vein that X does so very well (X, Kurenai, Orgasm). The minimum requirement of two ballads is also fulfilled here, with Endless Rain and Unfinished (A remake from the version on Vanishing Vision, the same was done with Kurenai on this album). I quite like Endless Rain, especially with its astounding solo, but Unfinished (An ironic name for the album’s closing track, no?), though having some wonderful piano playing, just doesn’t do much for me. Celebration is a stand-alone track for sounding like a glam metal song combined with one of Motorhead’s bluesier songs, such as Don’t Waste Your Time. It’s not one of the band’s most well known songs, but it actually plays an important role in X’s evolution; several songs on the band’s Jealousy album feature a more evolved form of this sound. The album’s tail end is made up of both the aforementioned ballad and Rose Of Pain, a song that, along with Silent Jealousy, is sort of a spiritual prequel to Art Of Life, if only because it displays X’s talent for writing songs that showcase multiple styles without clashing in the least bit. The first portion of the song is essentially a ballad for the first two minutes or so before becoming some Manowar-esque galloping riffs and levels of bombast storm in. And once the song reaches its halfway point, it breaks off into pure power / speed metal territory, flying away and not looking back. X really does have an amazing ability to create flowing, multi-layered songs, while most other bands that try to attempt the same type of song typically end up with a track sounding ultimately rushed and thrown together. A rare talent X Japan has, indeed!

And now I’ve dragged on about Blue Blood for far too long, and though I’ve covered the main points and songs, there’s still a few tracks that haven’t gotten nearly enough attention because there’s simply not enough room to fit every facet of this album into a review without making it too long-winded. But that’s just the thing with reviews: No matter how much I praise a record, nothing can prepare you for what you’re going to hear until you actually hear it with your own ears. Though not X Japan’s best album by any means, it is a perfect place to start for anyone curious about the band. And if you don’t like it, then simply try again with Jealousy or Dahlia; every album is different, and there is certainly enough X to go around (No pun intended!).

Killing Songs :
World Anthem, Blue Blood, Week End, Endless Rain, Kurenai, Celebration, Rose Of Pain
Kyle quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by X-Japan that we have reviewed:
X-Japan - The Last Live reviewed by Chris and quoted no quote
X-Japan - Dahlia reviewed by Chris and quoted 100 / 100
X-Japan - Art Of Life reviewed by Chris and quoted 100+ / 100
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