Visual Kei is a genre of aesthetics, one where how the band looks can be just as important as how they sound. Oftentimes groups will coordinate their costumes according to some theme, ranging from aristocratic vampires to BDSM, punk, goth, fried chicken, (anyone know this one? Maybe it’ll be a Flashback Friday one day) and plenty more. However, there are certain themes you rarely see nowadays. For today’s Flashback Friday will be discussing Visual Kei…..
Did you know that for a few unfortunate years visual bands had an absolute infatuation with National Socialism? At least, as far as the uniforms are concerned. This trend goes as far back as 1985 with bands like Rosenfeld, Rommel, Harkenkreuz, Necrophilia, and Mein Kampf.
Many of these bands actually contained people of note: Mein Kampf drummer Toshi went on to join COLOR (who we covered in our last Flashback Friday),Rosenfeld vocalist Hisayoshi became the frontman for AION, and Rommel members Hisashi Sakai and Hikaru Utaka were in X Japan!
Naturally, having such people donning the iron crosses would influence the bands that came later. Thanks to google, we now have access to those times where bands such as L’arc en Ciel, Luna Sea, Shazna, and even Dir en Grey dressed up like Nazis! However, this was usually only for a limited time, such as a photoset or a single PV. In general, though military fashion stayed popular, actual Nazi wear became less and less common, and band’s that regularly dressed this way had all but died out by the new millennium. There were good reasons for this of course: besides avoiding the bad press, these band members didn’t actually follow any type of Nazi ideology. According to fan testimony, when some of the formerly mentioned band’s were questioned about this time in their career, most expressed embarrassment at an ill-thought out decision to shock people. But how about a band from the 2000’s that not only embraced the Nazi aesthetic once, but were actually known for it?
Vocals – Kamiya (ex. Nadia)
Guitar – Yui
Guitar – Shiki
Bass – Shinya
Drums – Geki
Guitar – Miyabi (12/98- 10/7/1999)
Guitar – Takumi (Winter 99-2/13/00)
4 Demo Tapes
心臓 (Shinzo)- 10/20/99
桜 (Sakura)- 4/1/00
般若 (Hannya)- 4/1/00
Dearest of Darkness- 1/9/01
1 Best Album
天使禁猟区 (Tenshi Kinryoku) Bloody Valentine I LOVE YOU- 2/14/03
Dark Star- 6/9/01
Merry an Blood (known to fans as ﾏﾘﾌﾞ (Maribu)) formed in Nagoya sometime in December of 1998. They were quickly signed to local indies label Soleil, and were first featured on their omnibus “Scene 3” in early 1999. However, unlike the other big Nagoya indie label Doughnuts Records West, which popularized the style known as “Nagoya Kei” featuring much more low key, gothic visuals, Soleil was as extravagant as they came. Marry an Blood were no different, and despite being such a young band quickly turned heads with their unique take on glam. However, real recognition (and controversy) eluded them, possibly because of how infrequently they played in Tokyo, preferring Nagoya, Yokohama, and occasionally Chiba. Immediately following the departure of original guitarist Miyabi in October, the group released their first demo tape 心臓 (Shinzo). The year 2000 started out very promising for the band, they received much more exposure when they were featured on the “Face of Soleil” compilation CD and VHS.
Guitarist Takumi left the band in February and Shiki joined soon after, this was to be their final lineup. In April, the band released their 2nd and 3rd demo tapes on the exact same day. The second of which, Sakura, became their most-beloved song. The band announced their first official release, 絶対零度 (Zettai Reidou) was going to be a mini-album planned for release on September 9th.
Recording was completely finished in June, but there were problems on the horizon. Issues with their label led to the release being indefinitely delayed. When Soleil went out of business in 2001 so too did the band break up, after playing a final oneman show at Meguro Rock May Kan on June 9th. The band’s only video release “Dark Star,” was given out that same day.
The Marry an Blood saga wasn’t quite finished, however; two years after the dissolution of the band Kappa Records, a sister company of record shop Third Stage, released the band’s only album. “天使禁猟区 (Tenshi Kinryoku) Bloody Valentine I LOVE YOU” came out in early 2003 and was a best-of featuring remixed versions of their demos as well as unreleased songs that had been meant for the Zettai Reidou album. The first press quickly sold out, and has been re-released multiple times; surprisingly it is still for sale at CDJapan, so check it out!
Where are they now?
Many of the former members of Marry an Blood stayed active after the dissolution of the group:
Takumi, after briefly playing guitar for Maribu, joined Alpha. They changed their name to Ash and became quite popular, eventually signing to PS Company before their breakup in 2002.
Bassist Shinya was part of Chocolate’s, a band formed along with two former members of Ash. They played together until sometime in 2005.
Rui was in Inazuma along with members of fellow Soleil band Keil and future members of Chariots.
Geki was apparently part of a group called “Super Plants,” however information about them seems to be scarce.
The most active member was Kamiya, who was in Ribbon with former Lareine bassist Emiru. He also went solo, and released a single, “Tokyo,” followed by the album “Heart.” His first solo project went dormant around 2004, but when Kamijo formed Sherow Artist Society in 2007, Kamiya formed a new band! The Unforgiveness opened for Kamijo and Kisaki’s Cross Gate 2008 show, which we previously talked about in THIS Flashback Friday. Now going by the name Kanzaki, he also performed in Node of Scherzo and various session lives.
It would seem that Kamiya was destined for indies stardom, but this star quickly fell when in May of 2008 he abruptly stopped performing due to health problems. Fans feared the worst, but the Unforgiveness returned in 2011. Now called “The Unforgiveness from Inferno,” they promised to be better than ever, but quickly stopped again. Kanzaki’s website closed in 2014, but he still shows up on twitter every now and then. Let’s hope he can resume activities once again!