girugamesh is one of my favorite Japanese visual kei bands. Visual kei is a genre of Japanese rock “characterized by the use of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes,” often combined with an androgynous look. The visual kei scene is dominated by men (who look like women), but, exist†trace is the best of the few all-female visual kei bands. girugamesh formed in 2003, but, have since dropped the visual aspects of the genre, concentrating on their sound which is like alternative rock, alternative metal, and/or metalcore. They are Satoshi (vocals), Nii (guitar), Shu (bass), and Яyo (drums), and they have released six studio albums and two EPs to date.
So, let’s rank girugamesh‘s studio albums …
1. MUSIC (2008). girugamesh‘s third album is the band’s heaviest, mixing alternative metal and metalcore with elements of industrial and rapcore. It’s a masterpiece of modern Japanese rock. “DEAD WORLD“ is the best track, but “Asking Why“, “FREAKS“, “ULTIMATE 4“, and “Break Down“ are other great heavy rockers, while “Ishtar“ is a moody ballad, and “Enishi“, an upbeat pop/rocker. Three singles were released after MUSIC, and, in Japan, singles precede albums, but, these tracks fit better with MUSIC‘s gritty sound. “ALIVE“ and “BORDER“ are great A-sides; while “GAMBLE“, the former’s B-side, is one of the band’s best heavier tracks, and the more melodic “suiren“, the latter’s B-side, foreshadowed the next album’s sound (and, was included, with “ALIVE“, on that album). The (non-album) third single, “crying rain“, is a passionate power ballad, and, my favorite girugamesh song, bar none. So, watch the video and listen to this amazing song here:
Oh, and “S.T.F.U.“, the B-side of “crying rain“, is a excellent melodic rocker.
2. girugamesh (2007). girugamesh‘s self-titled second album adopted a heavier sound than the band’s debut, but, MUSIC pushed it over the edge. However, girugamesh is as good as MUSIC, and, could easily take the top spot, on a different day. This album, which was sold in the U.S. exclusively at Hot Topic stores, is a mix of alternative metal and alt-rock. “Crazy-Flag“, “Barricade“, “Patchwork“, and “Vermillion“ are the best darker tracks, while “Shining“, “Shiroi Ashiato“, and “Rocker’s“ are good upbeat melodic rockers. But, “Domino“ is my favorite track on girguamesh which, like “crying rain“, is a phenomenal power ballad (with emphasis on the power). But, as if that track isn’t enough, the album closes with “Kowareteiku Sekai“, another amazing (epic) power ballad.
3. 13’s Reborn (2006). girugamesh‘s full-length debut was typical of harder visual kei bands like MUCC, D’espairsRay, and the GazettE, but, that’s a good thing. This album was my introduction to girugamesh, and, I was sold on the track “Mouja no Koushin“ (with its military march and insane riff!) alone. But, grungy ballads like “Aimai na Mikaku“, “Ame to Fukousha“, and “Fukai no Yami“, and fiery rockers like the band’s debut single “Kaisen Sengen“, “Deceived mad pain“, and “Robust Conviction“, are all great tracks. This album was book-ended by two excellent EPs. Goku -shohan kata enban- (2005) included cool tracks like “Having Betrayed Is Why“ and “Kusaki Uta“, while Reason Of Crying (2007) included “Real My Place“, “Melody“, and “Freesia“, which were more reflective of girugamesh, released later that same year.
4. NOW (2009). girugamesh‘s 4th album was a move toward a more straightforward alternative rock sound, mixed with electronic elements, which the band has continued to explore through their most current release. “ALIVE“ and “suiren“, from the previously mentioned singles, are here, but, other good tracks include “nobody“, “DIRTY STORY“, “NO MUSIC NO REASON“, and “I think I can fly“. In addition, the Super Limited Edition of NOW includes two excellent self-covered tracks from the first EP: hardcore “GOKU“ and melodic “Gokusou“.
5. GO (2011). girugamesh‘s 5th album began to incorporate more pop/rock elements, particularly in the two singles that preceded the release, “COLOR“ and “Inochi no Ki“. The latter even sounds a little like all female J-pop/rockers SCANDAL. Favorite tracks include “Destiny“, “EXIT“, and, the glossy pop ballad “Saikai“.
6. MONSTER (2013). girugamesh‘s latest album, their 6th, is my least favorite only because my obsession with Japanese rock, since 2011, has waned, and, I don’t listen to new J-rock as much as I used to. Again, two singles preceded the album, “Zecho BANG!!“ and “Zantetsuken“, but, my favorites are “Drain“, “Bad End Dream“, and, especially, addictive closer “Alone“ (which is worth the price of admission, well, alone).
Finally, in 2011, girugamesh released the single excellent “Pray“ (in both Japanese and English versions) in support of the victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Pacific coast of Japan on March 11. Satoshi‘s English, in this song, is very good, and, you will notice, more than ever, how much he sounds like the East’s answer to Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. Oh, and, that’s a good thing!