Art of Life

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For the Queensrÿche album, see The Art of Live.
Art of Life
Studio album by X Japan
Released August 25, 1993
Recorded April 1991–June 1993 at One On One Recording, The Complex, Enterprise, Master Control, Pacifique, Devonshire, Red Zone, Abbey Road Studios
Genre Symphonic metal, progressive metal, power metal
Length 29:00
Language English
Label Atlantic
Producer Yoshiki
X Japan chronology
Jealousy
(1991)
Art of Life
(1993)
Dahlia
(1996)

Art of Life is a mini album by the Japanese heavy metal band X Japan, released on August 25, 1993 by Atlantic Records. The album consists solely of the 29-minute long orchestrated title track, which was written and composed by Yoshiki entirely in English and recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It topped the Oricon chart and has sold over 600,000 copies. The album is the band's first after changing their name from simply "X" and the first to feature bassist Heath.

Overview[edit]

With the release of two successful studio albums, Blue Blood in 1989 and Jealousy in 1991, X Japan was hugely popular for a metal/rock band in Japan and were selling out the country's largest indoor concert venue, the Tokyo Dome, yearly. But in 1992 bassist Taiji left the group and was replaced by Heath.[1]

Also in 1992, Yoshiki bought a recording studio complex in North Hollywood, California, United States. Known as One on One Recording Studios, it would later be renamed Extasy Recording Studios and become the place where recordings for nearly all his projects takes place.[2] For the release of Art of Life, X Japan left Sony and signed a deal with Atlantic Records, and like the previous album it wasn't completely recorded in Japan or Los Angeles, but in several different places, most notably One on One Recording Studios in the US and Abbey Road Studios in London (orchestra only).[3] The heavily orchestrated piece (recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)[4] comprises several passages of varying speeds and instrumentation, including numerous verses, with no set chorus, several harmonized guitar solos, and eight minutes performed solely on piano. In 2011, Yoshiki recalled that he wrote the song in roughly two weeks and that recording took approximately two years.[5][6] As for the lyrical theme, he said he drew from his own life, particularly from how he felt suicidal when his father died.[6]

The song was unveiled for the first time at a concert at the Nippon Budokan on July 30, 1992.[7] Art of Life was released on August 25, 1993. In the initial counting week of September 1993 it reached number one on the Oricon chart, with sales of 337,490 copies.[8][9] By the end of the year it had sold 513,000 copies and was the 28th best-selling album of the year. However, X Japan only performed two concerts that year, as each member began solo careers.[1] These concerts were held at the Tokyo Dome on December 30 and 31 and titled X Japan Returns, marking the beginning of a New Year's Eve tradition that would last until the group's disbandment. By 2013, Art of Life has sold over 600,000 copies.[10]

In 1998 a live album composed solely of "Art of Life", combined from these two concerts, and titled Art of Life Live was released by Polydor Records, it reached number twenty on the charts.[8] Both concerts were released in their entirety on DVDs in 2008 as X Japan Returns 1993.12.30 and X Japan Returns 1993.12.31, the latter was originally released in 2003 on VHS and DVD as Art of Life 1993.12.31 Tokyo Dome.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[11]

Brendan Schroer of Sputnikmusic gave Art of Life a perfect 5 out of 5 and declared it X Japan's "crowning achievement in musicianship, lyrics, [and] emotion." While praising the lyrics, he wrote that when they are combined with "Toshi's heartfelt wails, the experience feels downright cathartic." In his opinion, despite containing parts "speed metal, classical, symphonic music, progressive metal, power metal, [and] pop," it all fits and never loses focus. He finished by claiming "It's a sin that this album doesn't get the attention it deserves" due to the band being unfamiliar to the Western world.[11]

Legacy[edit]

Originally, "Art of Life" was only played live a handful of times. The first taking place on July 30, 1992 at the Nippon Budokan and two more at the previously mentioned December 30 and 31, 1993 concerts at the Tokyo Dome.[7] However since reuniting in 2007, X Japan has been performing the song regularly. First at the band's reunion concert on March 28, 2008 at the Tokyo Dome. For the song a hologram of the deceased hide (created using footage from one of the 1993 performances) played alongside the band, though the song was cut short when Yoshiki collapsed midway through, just before the piano solo.[12][13] The rest of the song was played at the same venue two days later. It was once again played at the Tokyo Dome on May 3, 2009, starting from the second movement, and at the AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong on January 16 (first movement) and 17 (second movement), 2009. The second movement has been played as the last song at every night of their on going world tour, beginning in 2010 in North America and moving to several South American and Asian countries in 2011.

Personnel[edit]

X Japan
Additional musicians
Production
  • Producer: Yoshiki
  • Co-producer: Naoshi Tsuda, X[14]
  • Recording and Mixing engineer: Richard Breen
  • Strings arrangement, orchestration: Shelly Berg
  • MIDI programming: Kazuhiko Inada

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Jrock Legend: X JAPAN". JRock Revolution. 2007-08-26. Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  2. ^ Billboard 27 Nov 1999, p. 52
  3. ^ Jealousy liner notes, 1991.
  4. ^ Mentioned in Yoshiki's biography YOSHIKI / 佳樹, written by Komatsu Narumi
  5. ^ "Q&A with X JAPAN at Japan Expo". jame-world.com. Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  6. ^ a b "Interview with YOSHIKI in Brazil". jame-world.com. Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  7. ^ a b "Biography, 1992". hide-city.com. 
  8. ^ a b "X JAPANのアルバム売り上げランキング". oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved December 10, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Oricon Weekly Album Chart for the first week of September 1993". oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  10. ^ "[Interview]YOSHIKI: “You Have to Force Your Way Through.” (Part One)". barks.jp. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  11. ^ a b Schroer, Brendan (2012-11-29). "X Japan - Art of Life (staff review)" (Review). Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  12. ^ "Yoshiki Gives His Crowd a Scare". jame-world.com. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  13. ^ "X Japan: They're huge (really), and they're (finally) coming to the U.S.". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  14. ^ "X Japan - Art Of Life". discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-04-27.