Luna Sea Best Albums Ranked
By far their rockingest album, Style (1996) balances youthful edge with control and maturation. “End of Sorrow” [yt] is one of the greatest j-rock songs ever. “Hurt” ain’t bad either; the whole album is a trip.
Then you go back one album to Mother (1994), where they started coming into their own with hits like “Rosier” [yt]. See also “True Blue” and “In Future.”
Then you bounce forward to Shine (1998) which may cause some consternation because at this point they’re rich & famous, less driven and more pop, with solo efforts that take precedence (because despite the differing styles of the collective solo works, they absolutely ARE competitors at this stage). But at least “Another” [yt] hearkens back to the old days, and I have good memories of “Shine.”
And having polished off the top three, you’re now at a crossroads — go early, or go late?
Early = unlistenable indie squeakiness.
Late = hip-hip trappings and boredom.
Bah, just stop here, you’re not missing anything if you skip the first three and last two discs! Heresy? FACT!
Review: LUNA SEA | A WILL (2013)
I admit, I was rather hesitant to listen to A WILL. After hearing the singles “Thoughts” and “Ran” and being underwhelmed, I had rather low expectations. It was clear that post-reunion LUNA SEA was not the same band as the one in my teenage memories, and I would have to judge the new album with a clear perspective, separating the past from the present. And so the month before, I kept LUNA SEA off my playlists and only listened to the radio previews once.
When A WILL was finally released, I was surprised to find how refreshing and enjoyable it was. In the midst of all the Dir en grey copycats, 80s disco dance, and K-pop, it was a breath of fresh air to hear LUNA SEA’s return to the rock scene. The dark, atmospheric songs of the past have been replaced with uplifting anthems of hope, love, and gratitude, focusing more on their romantic, dreamy side, presenting one of the strongest thematic albums they’ve released to date.
Throughout the album, there’s an invigorating sense of beginning anew fueled by the warmth and thanks the members have for all the SLAVES who waited for their return, as well as their newfound appreciation for each other and the music they create, which is especially evident in the lyrics of “Grace.” It’s clear that these songs were written with live performance in mind, and from the very beginning of “Anthem of Light,” I could see them on stage – J hopping back and forth, SUGIZO bending back and reaching for the sky, INORAN spinning ‘round, RYUICHI tightly clutching the mic stand with both hands while tapping his foot, Shinya’s hair flying with every beat. There’s songs for both old and new fans, with the radio friendly singles “The End of the Dream,” “Thoughts,” and “Ran” that are reminiscent of their 90s rock hits, while tracks like “absorb” and “Glowing” have hints of the member’s individual solo careers and show the new direction the band is heading towards. Taking a trip back to their indie days of speed metal, “Metamorphosis,” shows off the technical music skills of each member, especially that of Shinya, while “MARIA” has a strong sense of song structure, all while being based around a simple melody.
Although the vocal lines aren’t as strong and catchy as their previous work and make it difficult to compare to what’s offered on albums such as MOTHER and STYLE, with the current state of the declining music scene, it’s a strong rock album that stands out. It’s an album you’ll either love or hate, and some fans may dislike the positive vibe throughout, but like the contrast between IMAGE and EDEN or STYLE and SHINE, it should be no surprise that they’ve decided to move in a different direction again. They’ve evolved their simple, accessible style of rock that musicians of any level can and want to play into that of greater complexity and maturity, while still preserving the spirit of LUNA SEA and Japanese rock.
I bought the limited version type-A, which contains the album on HMCD and a Blu-ray with music videos of the three singles, as well as TV spots, all bundled within a digipak DVD package. The booklet is filled with black and white photos of the members shot in a warehouse-like setting, and like their recent releases, there are English translations printed next to the original Japanese lyrics. However, the fact that the back is glued to the case makes it difficult to flip through easily. As for the blu-ray, the videos for the singles on the album aren’t that memorable, save for “Thoughts,” which I found especially beautiful and cinematic to view in high quality. Overall, I would recommend this version only to hard-core fans that must have it all.
Rating – 4/5
Lastly, in response to Xio’s LUNA SEA list, here’s my album ranking with my favorite songs:
1. MOTHER – Face to Face, Genesis of Mind, Mother
2. STYLE – DESIRE, HURT, RA-SE-N
3. IMAGE – MECHANICAL DANCE, Image, SEARCH FOR REASON
3. EDEN – JESUS, ANUBIS
5. LUNA SEA – CHESS, BRANCH ROAD
6. THE ONE -CRASH TO CREATE-
7. A WILL – absorb, Metamorphosis
8. LUNACY – gravity, FEEL
9. SHINE – NO PAIN, Velvet
B-side – Ray, RAIN, Claustrophobia
luna sea | a will (1994)
Okay, well, everyone at jrocknyc has been planning on reviewing one of our most sought-after release from a VK-associated Japanese band and after around 8 listens on 8 different days from 8 different weeks on 8 different sets of headphones(actually 3), I came to the conclusion that I really didn’t have much to say about A WILL. Most of it is just so boring and by-the-numbers for me that I can’t push myself to explore it in detail. It should be known that I seldom listen to anything from SHINE onward.
It’s because of this lack of enthusiasm that I will be ranking tracks and giving short blurbs on the tracks that matter to me instead of typing out a deep analysis full of justified opinions on every track … oh, and I added a little bonus at the end that might spark debate, I dunno.
the really enjoyable tracks that I’d go back to …
As Cliff pointed out initially, the lead riffage on this song sounds so very NARASAKI that I wouldn’t be surprised if he contributed this tune to the band or came in as a guest guitarist. The vocal melodies on this track get pretty close to something they’d do on MOTHER, though, and it has a powerful, driving energy that pumps me up.
- The End of the Dream
A killer repeating lead riff and a few really memorable melodies that stick in my head after listening. This song feels like the closest they get to their STYLE charm on the whole album, while the majority feels more like a continuation of LUNACY.
the not-bad-but-nothing-amazing tracks …
Fun surf riffs and a bouncy tempo. The verse is pretty boring and forgettable, but that chorus is worth the listen and this rank.
Feels a bit like a Tourbillon song in that it really does nothing to get the blood pumping or stimulate the creative senses but you don’t hate it and you could imagine a Japanese dad playin’ it in for his kids while driving to or from a park or a family cook-out or something.
- Anthem of Light
Does a decent job of building up the album as an intro track with a sweeping chorus and has some nice SUGI noodles here and there.
Decent pop rock tune. The chorus almost sounds like BELIEVE’s bridge for a half second and that’s nice.
the total throwaway garbahj …
Honestly, this should probably be in the middle-ground list above because it has a cool 45 second SUGISOLO, but the solo couldn’t carry the song on its own.
Just didn’t absorb me, nor I it. I’m listening to it right now and I’m forgetting each second as it passes.
I’ve heard this song a thousand times by a thousand different artists.
NOW THAT THAT’S OVER, IT’S TIME FOR …
Fav Track: FAKE
Runner-Up: IN FUTURE
Fav Track: ANUBIS
Fav Track: MOON
Runner-Up: IN MIND
- LUNA SEA
Fav Track: SHADE
Runner-Up: BRANCH ROAD
Fav Tracks: WITH LOVE
Fav Track: NO PAIN
Fav Track: Be Awake
- A WILL
Fav Track: Metamorphosis
Runner-Up: The End of the Dream
12/1/13 Luna Sea Live Monster Translation
I did a quick translation of Luna Sea’s Live Monster interview for fans who were curious about their appearance. The program was billed as them finally breaking their silence and talking about why they broke up and then got back together, and boy, did they talk about it. There’s cameo appearances from Fuzzy Control and Porno Graffitti as well. Enjoy :)
LUNA SEA ON LIVE MONSTER
Air date: December 1, 2013
English translation by Ger of Shiroi Heya
INTRO: “Born to be Wild” performed by Fuzzy Control
Nakamura Masato: Good evening to all you music lovers! I’m Nakamura Masato. Tonight’s guest artists are certainly a fit for Live Monster - wouldn’t you say? Here they are on our monster program: introducing Luna Sea!
review: luna sea | a will (2013)
Is the purpose of a new Luna Sea album after a dozen+ years of inactivity to entertain, or to help you remember they exist?
Is the title meant to evoke one’s last will and testament, or inner strength?
Have I finished my giant tumbler of Wild Turkey American Honey bourbon & seltzer yet, and will I be able to walk to the kitchen for half of another?
Glowing - So. Langorous. Bluesy. Lounging by the pool nursing a hangover. New and not “the usual”. Best song on the album BY FAR.
Metamorphosis - like “G” & “Hurt” & “Ra-se-n” got smashed together and digitally morphed into X Japan’s “Dahlia" (@:41). One of the few tracks here with actual momentum.
I guess I have to include “Rouge” and “End of the Dream” since at least they have, you know, hummable riffs that I haven’t forgotten 1/100th of a second after they tickled my cilia.
"Ran", "Maria", and "Grace" , the last of which being the worst offender, sounding like Yoshiki sicced his classical orchestra upon it. "Ran" is like a j-drama theme, ugh that chorus! "Maria", whatever. J & Co. have always had an extravagant fascination with New World Catholicim. Is "Catholic otaku" a thing?
Everything else. You could use these songs to pad shipments of fragile leg lamps.
Which was true of the last couple LS CDs…
…so I guess the worst you can say about this album — and it’s actually pretty impressive, really — is that they basically picked up right where they left off.
Think about that. They were inactive for a longer period (2000-2013) than they were active (1989-ish to 2000)!
Some guys, you get them in a room, and good stuff can happen no matter what.
I’m probably just gonna go listen to Style again now tho.