Hello, kiddos! Let us take a trip back to the year 2007. Why this year in particular? Not because I’m nostalgic over my high school years, nor because I enjoyed President Bush and his candor. It was the year Moi dix Mois released their fourth album, Dixanadu. You probably haven’t heard of this band, and this writer does not blame you. Hailing from Japan, Moi dix Mois was planned and forged in 2002 by Mana-sama, a fashion and music icon formerly of the band Malice Mizer. Merely three months after Malice Mizer went on hiatus, Mana began this solo project with relatively unknown artists, touring outside Japan almost exclusively for a few years. Dixanadu marked a decidedly different direction for the band’s sound, shifting towards more Industrial influences. This is also the first full-length album to feature a different lineup, including new vocalist Seth, who joined in 2005 after the departure of original vocalist Juka.
In regards to the genre Moi dix Mois present on this album, many would consider it more Gothic metal than anything. It features organ and harpsichord on most of the tracks, and rarely throws in anything you’d be able to call a “guitar solo.” Twin guitars are a favorite sound to incorporate for Mana-sama, which leaves little room for epic solos, but greatly intensifies the rhythm of the songs. A perfect example of Mana-sama’s twin guitar work is in the song “Lamentful Miss.” From the start, the guitars weave into the song in rounds, creating a strong drive. During the transitioning verse, the guitars separate, with one presenting a nostalgic line with a reverb pedal while the other maintains the same line throughout the song. However, both are still used in a rhythm guitar fashion. “Angelica” serves as a perfect example of the band’s infatuation with organs and harpsichord, alternating between the two beasts. These transitions are quick, surprising and ultimately beautiful. The two instruments meld well, and slide in and out of the song at perfect moments.
Moi dix Mois’ new and more industrial edge is highly prevalent in songs like “exclude” and “Immortal Madness.” These two tracks rely heavily on synthesizer beats to drive the song, with live drums falling into disuse. The band also use a megaphone effect on vocals with chanting lyrics. For example, the song “exclude” uses the effect over sing-song lyrics for the verses and presents the chorus clear and unedited. These songs have more of a club appeal than is found in earlier work.
For die-hard Moi dix Mois fans, two re-records of songs from Dix Infernal, the band’s first album, were completed for Dixanadu. The songs “tentation” and “Pessimiste” were reworked into “Last Temptation” and “Neo Pessimiste”, and rather pleasantly. Seth’s vocals take the songs where Juka’s did not, making them darker, heavier, and, for lack of a better description, simply better. The original “Pessimiste” had excellent harpsichord and organ as well as a more operatic sound. It also displayed awkward transitions, no noticeable guitar until the chorus, and vocals that had no emotion for over 90 percent of the song. “Neo Pessimiste” surprises us with a complete absence of harpsichord and organ, quicker drums and extremely prominent guitars. Seth’s vocals make the song much more accusatory towards the subject of the lyrics, with the shout-along “Pessimiste!” allowing the crowd to jump in. “Last Temptation” does not present much of a difference from “tentation.” In regards to composition, “Last Temptation” is reconstructed with a more ballad-esque arrangement and has a better build up, with a crescendo hitting softly and sweetly during the chorus. The original version ran with what it had at a million miles an hour, with some piano accents to make it only slightly softer. Also, Juka spent the entire duration of “tentation” trying to blow his vocal chords, whereas Seth seems to take the title of the song to heart, coaxing the listener, seducing with his singing.
With the shift to a more industrial sound on Dixanadu, Moi dix Mois made themselves more readily accessible to their desired audience. This shift, along with the new lineup, strengthened and intensified their unique sound. This album helped solidify their image and, while still not very well known, they are continuously creating otherworldly tunes, touring, and bringing their dark melancholy to people willing to give them a listen. For anyone trying to get into Japanese metal, this album is a perfect gateway into the epic visual and sonic spectacle.
-A. E. Fraser
01 – Dispell Bound
02 – Angelica
03 – Metaphysical
04 – Exclude
05 – Last Temptation
06 – Immortal Madness
07 – Neo Pessimist
08 – Xanadu
09 – A Lapis Night’s Dream (SE)
10 – Lamentful Miss
11 – Lilac Of Damnation
12 – Sacred Lake (SE)