the gazette | beautiful deformity(2013)
Dim was such a good album. It sounded like a band that was willing to mature and experiment rather than play it safe, and there was a great sense of confidence in songs like “The Invisible Wall”, “13Stairs[-]1”, and “Ogre”. Two years later The Gazette followed up with Toxic, an album that sounded like a collection of previously scrapped tracks sprinkled liberally with electronica to make them sound new. Less than a year after that, Division dropped in two curious packages: a single disc release, and a double disc version. This album sounded like a combination of leftover tracks from Dim and Toxic, and it was painfully obvious that The Gazette was starting to run out of ideas. Riffs and vocal melodies were uncomfortably familiar, and it was hard to not think that the band was just phoning it in now. And now there’s Beautiful Deformity, showing us that The Gazette are perfectly fine with treading water.
I give the band credit for not falling prey to the current visual kei fad of emulating Dir en grey’s recent work, but I can’t praise them for basically cutting and pasting what they’ve already done and cranking up the synth volume in an attempt to make things “different”. Things start with the dubstep-tinged intro track “Malformed Box”, which segues quite nicely into “Inside Beast” where Ruki declares “Die or suck my beast” before the band erupts into a mess of bland guitar playing and annoying electronic beeping. Ruki is as predictable as ever, relying on the same variations of melody he’s been using for a long time now. Sometimes his phrasing sounds so familiar that it appears he’s singing an earlier song but with different lyrics. And that’s the majority of what the experience of listening to this album is like.
"Fadeless" could have been a track on Dim. “Redo” sounds like a reworked “Shiroki Yuutsu” (also from Dim). “Last Heaven” is a by-the-numbers acoustic rock ballad, and “The Stupid Tiny Insect” just sounds like it wants to spiral out of control because there’s no sense of cohesion, just a band wanting to be heavy without putting any thought into it.
"Loss" is a great track, though, full of great ideas that are implemented well even if they are familiar, and "Coda" is a fantastic closing track, if not the most interesting thing on here. But, when it comes down to it, this album shows no signs of a band willing to break free from its moorings. Listening to Dim and then its three successors is the equivalent of eating a delicious pizza, and then being served reheated and congealed slices from that same pizza for the next four years. Beautiful Deformity is that last slice; It vaguely tastes the same, but you’re better off just eating something else.