Review: the GazettENINTH

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the GazettE is another mainstream J-rock/metal band that has stuck with me over the years. They’ve always seemed to do whatever they want, which has led to an interesting variety throughout their catalog, though in recent years they’ve grown a hell of a lot heavier.

It’s not that they’re strangers to bleak, dark material, though. They have numerous songs about abuse, torture, murder; the worst parts of humanity in general, and often written from the point of view of a victim. The song that caught my attention, the very metalcore-esque “Filth in the Beauty,” from their 2007 album Stacked Rubbish is about rampant sexual abuse in the entertainment industry, fittingly using a Christina Aguilera-esque strain as the main theme where she talks about how her beauty will soon be ruined by outside forces.

Mixing in pop, EDM, and even sometimes genres like swing are fairly standard for the band, but at least for me it’s always seemed fairly well done and not just a gimmick. I still listened to Stacked Rubbish from time to time, but I didn’t actively start listening to the GazettE again until recently, when I unexpectedly stumbled upon their music videos for DOGMA, UNDYING, and UGLY. I wouldn’t necessarily say the band has gotten darker, but they’ve ramped up the metal side of their composition style quite a bit.

After checking out the music video for “FALLING,” I bit the bullet and bought a digital copy of the GazettE’s latest album, NINTH, the fitting title for the ninth full album by the group, and I’ve got to say I have really been digging it.

Like on Stacked Rubbish, the album starts out with an EDM intro track where the word “Jesus” is heavily repeated. “FALLING” is where the real mood of the album is set up. Good singing, throaty and deep growls, and a lot of nice crunchy synth lines over occasional guitar chugs.

“GUSH,” the fourth track brings back some of the older GazettE flavor, with some guitar lines that imitate older visual kei licks. “THE MORTAL” takes us into almost deathcore territory, except that I don’t hate it. Ruki’s vibrato really makes the clean singing parts shine and contrast with his throaty growls and the chorus is full of tons of tension that slowly resolves.  One of my favorites on the album.

“Utsusemi” (emptiness) pulls things back a bit with a great melodic J-rock track, once again using a lot of catchy synth over galloping guitars. I wouldn’t be surprised if this has been used as the opening for a season of an anime.  “Sono Koe wa Moroku” (that voice is brittle) continues the pared-back feeling for the middle of the record with a J-rock ballad. There are some really great texture lines here, like in the echoing synth lines.

NINTH is an eclectic mix of industrial, ballads, J-rock/pop punk, deathcore, and whatever else the band felt like doing. Part of what makes this odd mix work so well is that the GazettE actually does it all well. Over such a large variety of subgenres and juxtaposition of styles, the band consistently feels as if they’re comfortable and in their element, which is impressive in its own right.

4.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

NINTH is available in the US and Japan through Sony Music Entertainment and in the rest of the world through JPU Records

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