J-POP OVERVIEW

Gackt - DIABOLOS



Artist: Gackt
Title: DIABOLOS
Release Date: 2005.09.21
Peak Position: #4
Product: CRCP-40120
Label: Nippon Crown

Gackt’s 8th full solo album was released on the 21st of September. It didn’t top the chart but wandered for some time around #4. After the dissatisfaction that “Love Letter” brought about to many of his fans, because of its long, unvaried love-ballad theme, Gackt returns with a promising album, to restore any doubt growing about his talent at composing and singing. It’s clearly good old Gackt and without any recycling of the past.

The title is direct: ‘DIABOLOS’ is the nominative case of the Greek word for ‘devil’. As that case defines the noun, this title tries to set the inspiration of the album’s content. The direct transliteration of the Greek word adds an exotic touch, and a more mystic element. The one-word dark title sends us back to times like ‘Moon’, ‘Crescent’…

Then comes the cover: what can I say, it’s gorgeous. A Classic-like cracked sculpture with wings and sharp metals as feather details, emerging from rocky roses; it gives out a perfect Gothic expression to match with the title.

The other thing I have to mention, of the non-musical part of the album, is the pretty lyric booklet. It is total eye-candy with breathtaking sceneries and remarkable colour (over)usage. Everything is so detailed and the awesome colours carry you inside this dark, yet colourful tale. The pages aren’t enough to understand much of a story, but they fulfill their purpose. The same theme is further pictured in videos shown during the ‘DIABOLOS Tour’ and at the “届カナイ愛ト知ッテイタノニ抑エキレズニ愛シ続ケタ…” promotional video.

1. Misty
“Misty” is the starting track, but it’s not a real song. It’s an instrumental prelude, a comeback of an old Gackt tradition that binds the album even more with his past works. As most of Gackt’s instrumental tracks, it’s a soothing piece of soft music, with calm piano and then a stringed sound. A nice touch is that after the music silently ends, the beat intro of the upcoming song fades in. The pause between the two tracks is fractional and soon we are listening to the first actual song of the album.

2. Farewell
The dominant start. The beat is great, addicting, and Gackt’s vocals really are a great match with it. The music and the singing bring each other out. It’s clear that Gackt is trying out a different singing technique; it’s not a singing method Gackt has us used to, but after a couple of listens it gets quite familiar and interesting. His vocal abilities really shine, full of screaming emotion. A quick jamming effect makes a nice twist just near the end.

3. Noesis
From the first few seconds of this song, the music catches your interest. The tune is rather hard at most parts and stays firm throughout the song. Gackt’s voice at the verses is covered by a “microphonizing” effect that fits with the electric-mechanic sounds of the song. Generally it has a very “computer-like” feeling. The choruses are sung clearly like normal and make up with the rest; a deep cry of the last syllable makes an awesome end at each of them.

4. Ash
The song starts softly, with calm vocals and music being kind of like “Misty”. After the second verse the music gets a lot harder showing the actual parts of the song. The feeling of the chorus is vibrant and sticks out of the almost tranquil verses. At one point Gackt screams “ash” with a rough voice that doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the song’s singing. However, the climax following, just before the finishing verse, is magnificent and really tempers any minor flaws of the song.

5. Metamorphoze
“Metamorphoze” is the 2nd single from the album. The introduction is captivating with a very interesting wind instrument element in it. The song is completed with the awesome chorus, in which Gackt continues to prove his vocal abilities. The voice effects used (e.g. at points it seems he is singing “below the surface” or there’s the mic effect again) make the song more variable, catchy and cool. The song is also a theme for the Gundam Z anime movie, so the approach is supposed to be a bit different.

6. Dispar
The beginning of this song is very addicting with fast tone changes; it makes your ears want to focus more, waiting for what they are going to listen to next.. In the verses, his voice blends with this interesting theme up until the chorus bursts in. The energy is released and it makes you to want to sing along with the whirl of the words and rhythm. Although it is a short song it is very powerful and remains great as is.

7. Future
“Future” starts with soft music and gentle tones. Again the beat gets more vibrant as the song goes on but not as much as in “Ash”. “Future” is more balanced that way. However, after the middle, a very special part uncovers. The normal music stops and the only clear instrument that stays is a depressing violin accompanied by a set of sounds that resemble a war face. Maybe at first those noises seem weird but really they make your mind travel, sort of inside that tale of the lyrics booklet (though some sounds are more ‘modern’). Very unique.

8. Black Stone
This is the 1st single from the album. The music is very fast, and the song is just so vivid. The guitars build a jumpy sensation along with the beats. As a single it wasn’t praised much; however, inside the album it really seems essential to alter the heavy atmosphere of all the previous tracks. It renews the interest and perfectly leads the theme of the more uplifting part of the album. It’s a nice happy tune. Also, it should be noted that this song was used in the commercial of Daihatsu Move Custom (a car).

9. Storm
This is a fresh song for Gackt that takes the album a new direction. It’s an upbeat song with kind of a happy element. The electric sounds, sometimes with a synthesizer and sometimes with a(n electric) guitar, lead the rhythm, which is very catchy in itself. Gackt’s different singing technique is widely shown in this song as well. The song is strong, and not boring. Again, random effects complete the great feeling.

10. Road
Gackt isn’t the type who has many happy tunes in his repertoire, let alone with a cute factor. Those songs are scarce but are really awesome; so is “Road”. It has a happy and lively beat, reminding you of some funky “Marmalade” situations. Listening to it makes you keep smiling and it gives out a lot of positive energy. Perfect for when you wake up on Saturdays. =]

11. 届カナイ愛ト知ッテイタノニ抑エキレズニ愛シ続ケタ … 1
The last single from the album. Maybe the title doesn’t seem very neat, but this song is as big as its name. It is the ballad of the album; very intense and emotional with Gackt’s stunning vocals transferring all of the emotion. The melody is simply gorgeous, forming a brilliant atmosphere without being like an ordinary love song at all (i.e. it wouldn’t fit very well in “Love Letter”). The arrangement is steady and full, like an entire orchestra performing. No wonder it was used as a theme for the mid-day dorama ( “Keiyaku Kekkon”). Certainly the best ending for this wonderful album.

Conclusion:

“DIABOLOS” can be considered, one of, if the best of Gackt’s albums, with all of the songs being rather special. The songs from singles released before the album (including the b-sides) are different versions, most notably “Noesis”. I didn’t rate any of the songs separately but I could easily grade the album overall with a 4.5+ out of 5. I doubt someone could rate it below 4/5. After listening to this album 3 times at the most, every song becomes a favorite.The lyrics of many of the songs meet the very high standards of Gackt: poetic imagery with very emotional expressions, helped by the various rhythm climaxes. Definitely this album is Gackt’s best production, and one of the best albums of 2005 for the Japanese music scene. I totally recommend it to every Dear (Gackt’s fan) and everyone who wants pieces of modern (j-)rock.

  1. Misty
  2. Farewell
  3. Noesis
  4. Ash
  5. Metamorphoze
  6. Dispar
  7. Future
  8. Black Stone
  9. Storm
  10. Road
  11. 届カナイ愛ト知ッテイタノニ抑エキレズニ愛シ続ケタ …

___________
1 Romaji: Todokanai Ai to Shitteita no ni Osaekirezu ni Aishitsuzuketa…
Translation: Even though I know that my love will never reach you, I continue to love you uncontrollably…

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