I literally spent half my youth on Japanese rock/visual kei. I traveled to Japan only for fan meeting events several times. I was one of them who went to see Dir en Grey at Rock am Ring back in the days. I think it was that time (?) Kyo’s mic didnt work well and he seemed pretty pissed off about it, lol.
I would say there was some kind of a “peak” around 2005-2010-ish. There were so many active bands that kept pumping out quality releases back then. Hell, even “Sadie” released some really solid stuff before they disbanded (check out “Madara”) . VK was also starting to go abroad and stuff, japanese rock was about to become the next big thing.
Then… a few years later it just kind of fizzled out. I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was the japanese labels who kept refusing to put stuff on Youtube, or something else that over time made people tired of trying to check out the latest music from Japan. For the longest time you literally had to go to specific pages to download illegal rar files if you wanted to listen to new releases. It killed the vibe for many, for sure.
At around the same time people stopped buying music worldwide. I think this took a huge hit on especially this japanese “members only” rock/VK scene. Even once super popular bands started disbanding and the quality of the releases decreased. I wonder if it was that simple that they stopped making any real money, and kind of lost interest.
Now I am here like 15 years later trying to get back into it again. I literally vacuumed spotify on all recent releases from the classic bands that used to be good… and almost everything is crap/soulless. Its only Dir en Grey and Gazette who still are able to put out something decent, for example Oboro is a step in the right direction for their new album, or Gazette’s latest single which was pretty solid. I also liked Candis. Artists like Mucc, Matenrou Opera, Nogod, Kamijo, Merry only to mention a few have completely dropped the ball. Not even Galneryus can put out some decent music anymore…
Mucc which used to be my favorite band is almost becoming a joke of themselves at this point, aren’t they releasing like a new album every 6th months now? I also read there is another one coming out soon… while Tatsuro just released 2 solo albums. Is it really getting that hard for even the “big names” to earn money? Desperation? Also why is Kyo doing all kind of weird side projects? That one with Miya and Yukihiro was just so damn generic, and those weird clothes designs (his brand?), lol. Don’t get me wrong I am not trying talk shit about Kyo because he will always be one of the biggest inspirations for me in my life, but is he also trying to squeeze out every $$$ he can before he gets too old?
I have zero interest in trying out indies anymore - the ratio that you find something worth listening to in the japanese indie rock/vk scene is probably the lowest on the planet. People mentioned that deviloof and kizu are the biggest newest bands in recent times and they didn’t impress me at all. Kizu is your typical shitty VK and Deviloof sounds like any western death core band that ever has existed. I guess this is the only way they still can get some attention abroad anymore since if you just growl and scream for 3 minutes, have decent produced videos and look a bit “cool”, fans of the genre will automatically gather and praise it. Not trying to make fun of anyone, no offense.
What always differed japanese rock from western rock for me, is that even if screaming is a big part of it as well - is that Japanese rock often leads up to catchy choruses/melodies and epic climaxes. Just listen to “Kamikaze” by Nogod and that climax chorus man…
I am willing to say that this scene never has been worse. Maybe it’s even dead, with only a few glimpses of hope here and there, but they are truly few at this point. Am I completely wrong with my observations?
Love and Peace