REVIEW: HYDE Returns to His Solo Project With English-Language "ANTI."

Hyde may very well be one of the most legendary Japanese rock stars of all time, let alone being a very early member of the Japanese glam rock movement. He was recruited by bassist, Tetsuya, to form a band with Hiro and Pero, a guitarist and drummer, and thus L'Arc~en~Ciel was born. This occurred 28 years ago and ever since that moment, Hyde has went on to record 12 albums with L'Arc~en~Ciel; 4 albums with VAMPS, his second major band; and 3 unique solo albums with one of them being rerecorded in English and a greatest hits compilation for a total of 5 albums released as a solo rock star. Having just turned 50 earlier this year, Hyde returns to his solo activities with something completely different: Anti.

1. Who's Gonna Save Us?
2. Mad Qualia
3. Sick feat. Matt B
4. Another Moment
5. Fake Divine
6. After Light
7. Out
8. Zipang feat. Yoshiki
9. Set In Stone
10. Lion
11. Two Face
12. Midnight Celebration II
13. Ordinary World 
This album cycle began about one year ago, when the lead single and first track "Who's Gonna Save Us?" was released. This was a particularly good song to use to revamp his solo project for a number of reasons, but none more so than its' nature as a new-age hard-rock song with mild electronic influences and a vibe of rebellion and empowerment. The B-Side from this single, "Midnight Celebration II" also made the cut for the final album as a slightly remixed version. This song was originally released about 16 years ago on his solo album 666.

The follow-up single, "After Light," had a similar sort of theme in that it seemingly depicts the result of the rebellion that occurred in the previous single. The primary difference is that "After Light"'s drum and bass lines are significantly heavier and harder-hitting. The added effect of the neon graffiti and grungy back-alley visuals in the music video should be noted as well, considering this was far more a Visual Kei move than the video's predecessor. Unfortunately, this single's B-Side did not make the cut, but it should be mentioned that "Kiss of Death" is, in my opinion, one of Hyde's best vocal performances of his career.

The third release this era was, far and away, my favorite. "Fake Divine" is almost an R&B/Hard Rock cross over song with a strong synthetic beat with heavy guitar and deep, guttural vocals that never become too harsh. The lyrics are, at this point, less associated with rebellion and empowerment and focusing on self preservation in the face of adversity. The visuals are stunningly dark and borderline sacrilegious. Once again, the B-Side "監獄ROCK (Prison Rock)" did not make the album proper.

There were even fourth and fifth singles before the release of the full album. "Zipang" was a collaboration with Yoshiki, the musician associated with creating the Visual Kei scene in Japan. He is a pianist and drummer and there would be no better match for a ballad of this nature. The B-Side, "Ordinary World," is a cover of Duran Duran and did also make the album as noted above. "Mad Qualia" is the final single from the album, but was ultimately used as a theme song from Devil May Cry 5. To this day, I'm still not sure what a "Qualia" is.

The remaining six songs are all brand new tracks recorded for this album specifically. The lone duet, "Sick" features Matt B of From Ashes to New. This song is a lot more fast paced and Matt's presence provides a little something extra, even if it's only for a few bars. "Another Moment" is what I would call a semi-ballad. Where many of the other songs on this album are anthems, this one remains a bit more upbeat while also maintaining an emotional edge and a sense of longing.

The only song I didn't really care for was "Lion," simply because it was just too funky. That is to say, it literally had influences of funk rock and that's just not for me. However, the remaining tracks all had similar energy and themes as the singles. Particularly, "Out" and "Set In Stone" are about being who you are no matter what and having the flexibility of mind to evolve and grow. "Two Face," though, is a bit more self-deprecating in that it recognizes there are bad parts to ourselves, but we don't need to let them take over us.

All in all, the album was a very solid first English-Language release with all the right themes and motifs for the times we're living in. I can appreciate the style will be a bit polarizing, given that there are so many pre-released songs and the composition isn't exactly groundbreaking. However, Hyde is and always has been immensely talented. His work has the ability to speak for itself.

The album does not come out until next month. However, it is now available digitally via iTunes and Spotify. Please support the artist and let us know what you think!

HYDE is also on tour, see if he is playing in a city near you!

ANTI ($9.99 on iTunes)
3) SICK (feat. Matt of From Ashes to New) 4) ANOTHER MOMENT
11) TWO FACE 12) MIDNIGHT CELEBRATION II -anti veersion-
Stream it on Apple Music and SpotifyPurchase it on iTunes. Pre-Order it on CDJapan. 

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