“God said that when you die, your life will pass before your eyes. If you want to feel it right now, just do it do it do it….”
Possibly the best advice I’ve ever received– and one of Gackt’s more articulate English phrases, as extracted from his recent single, Jesus. Some of us are still trying to figure out what “a crew sees cryin knees” means, but maybe we’re slow on the joke.
Both from my original assumption, and from my recent trip to Japan, I almost have to say you’d think Gackt has sort of lost his cover-issue appeal in the Jrock industry. Music magazines (which took up about half my suitcase, needless to say) seem to be packed with Alice Nine, An Cafe, D, Buck-Tick and other such names these days. I stabbed unforgiving fingernails into the spines of magazines,scratching out preceding names until I found those Roman letters I was searching for. He’s there. It’s just that Alice Nine is about ten years more recent. Understandable. Most of those names had just released exciting new albums, including several leaps to major labels. And all Gackt did was start a huge, nationwide, incredible looking “Visual tour”. No big deal. From the magazines, you might be worried about his claim to fame as the god of Jrock. Don’t worry. He has it all under control. I’ve got proof. It’s called one of Gackt’s three latest singles: JESUS.
After that uncertain moment where I just had to sit back and trust Gackt (I refer to the period of time he spent deliberating over whether or not he was going to join Yoshiki of X Japan fame for some weird band.), Gackt changed his theme. In 2005 he was sporting ringlets and cornrows and a definite homage to Vampirism. In 2007 he had become some sort of evil samurai warlord (a fitting image.). Now, in 2009, he’s turned into a…(I guess Gackt is trying to tell us something) an evil, militaristic…badass. Not only did he change his look for something sleek and modern, he changed his music, too. There’s a distinct difference between the early Gackt and the music he’s releasing these days. Right in a nice little clump, Gackt released three singles– and if you think a nationwide tour could throw off Gackt’s perfectionism one little bit…maybe you should switch to decaf.
To say that Gackt is settling down would be a vast insult to his latest work. In fact, I think that Gackt keeps getting more and more intense with each new album and single. Enter: JESUS.
The single itself is a portrait of excellence. The case is a grim shot of a grim-looking Gackt turning back to look from amidst a staggering group of….the back of the case reveals delightful zombies lurching forward, all wearing the same Nazi-esque suit. The disc itself depicts a wryly smiling Gackt, heavily eye-lined, holding his hand to his temple in the shape of a gun. The imagery, the corresponding PV and live TV performances, and the song itself are all darker, heavier, and more intense than much of his earlier stuff. Although it’s not uncommon for Gackt to thrash about in some kind of possessed state during a performance, I was impressed by the intensity he throws into Jesus. Watching him perform it (and even just hearing the track) never fails to give me goosebumps.
JESUS is grungier than a lot of Gackt’s earlier pieces. It’s dark, it’s totally edgy, and the sound is full-throttle metal. His bestial-howls of ‘Jesus’ and ‘Maria’ tear through the guitars and drums’ heavy-metal riffs. His hoarse, pre-solo English phrase (page header) is less the mellow recitation found in pieces such as Lust For Blood and more grunge screamo.
His style here is, and is expressed particularly well in the PV, almost that of a grim Hades-type figure, dolling out judgment– cold and merciless. In contrast, the lyrics are emotional, and deeply threaded with intense questions, such as “Real or dream, real or dream, real or dream, please tell me!” and “Answer me….Jesus!!” This creates an interesting play of imagery between Gackt, who is singing the words, and the third-party character whose finger is trembling on the trigger of a gun poised at his temple.
The follow-up track is a re-mastered, re-written, re-performed Sayounara (taken off the album Rebirth). In typical Gackt style, he just took the most heart-wrenching melancholy song on earth and….made it sadder, if you thought that possible. Where Jesus lifts you up to a state of euphoric battle-craze, Sayounara drags you right back down to open weeping (forget the tissues, get me a mop). Sayounara is a beautiful piece that gives Gackt’s liquid-gold voice priority, curtained with heart-breaking violin and a piano track. You listen and then you cry and then you somehow glue your heart back together enough to listen to Jesus again (for the ninth time).
The single comes with instrumentals of the two songs.
Although we won’t get into his other recent singles, I have to say that I’m impressed (although not surprised) by the direction Gackt is taking his music these days. He’s going for fresh and different (including remastering older songs such as Sayounara), while still keeping with, if not enforcing further, his level of perfectionism and dedication to his music, his integrity, and the expectations of his fans. And even though his latest singles are quite a different style from his older music, they all settle down together into a perfect harmony– it’s all Gackt. Just the way we want it to be.
If Gackt ever decided to release another “best singles collection”, Jesus would have my vote. So if you were wondering whether or not you should pick this single up, my advice to you is just do it do it do it…