Malice Mizer during the Gackt era (clockwise from top-left: Mana, Kami, Közi, Yu~ki, Gackt)
|Genres||Neoclassical dark wave, gothic rock, synthpop, art rock, progressive rock, pop rock, symphonic rock|
|Years active||1992–2001 (on hiatus)|
|Labels||Nippon Columbia, Midi:Nette|
|Associated acts||Moi dix Mois, Eve of Destiny, Nil, Zigzo, Kneuklid Romance, Matenrou|
Malice Mizer (stylized as MALICE MIZER) was a Japanese visual kei rock band active from August 1992 to December 2001. Formed by guitarists Mana and Közi, the band's name stands for "malice and misery", extracted from "nothing but a being of malice and misery" — their reply to the question "what is human?". Their earlier music and themes were characterized by their strong French and classical influences, later moving away from deliberate French romanticism and incorporating Gothic aspects after several tragedies befell the band.
Malice Mizer was as famous for their music as for their live shows, featuring lavish historical costumes and stage sets, short silent theatre pieces preluding various songs, whimsical dance routines, and even a particularly notable instance of the vocalist descending to Earth (the stage) as a fallen angel, only to ascend again at the end of the concert. Throughout their history, the band has gone through several different lineups and three drastic image changes.
On December 11, 2001, it was announced that Malice Mizer would go on an indefinite hiatus. Seven years after the hiatus started, Közi played on stage with Mana's Moi dix Mois for a session gig on December 27, 2008. In 2009, Közi went on a short 2 gig coupling tour with Moi dix Mois called Deep Sanctuary. A year later, in July 2010, he went on another tour with Moi dix Mois, titled Deep Sanctuary II, with Yu~ki as a special guest at Akasaka Blitz on the 17th. This was the first time in 9 years that the three original members were on stage together. On November 17, 2012, the three members once again performed together, this time at Osaka Muse.
1992–1994: Tetsu era
After leaving Matenrou, Mana and Közi formed Malice Mizer in August 1992 with Tetsu on vocals, both Mana and Közi on guitars/synthesizers, Yu~ki on bass and Gaz on drums. From the outset, the band established their trademark "twin guitar"' sound, whereby two guitars play different melodies creating polyphony. Malice Mizer's sound during the Tetsu era was a mixture of early 1980s gothic rock, progressive rock and strong classical influences. Their first official release was the song "Speed of Desperate" on the 1993 compilation Brain Trash. Before this, they had released a demo tape called "Sans Logique" which contained no vocals. Shortly after the release of Brain Trash, Gaz left the band to join Kneuklid Romance, while Kneuklid Romance's drummer Kami in turn joined Malice Mizer. In 1994, after a couple more demos, the band released their debut album Memoire on Mana's newly founded independent record label Midi:Nette, and re-released it at the end of the year with an additional bonus track, "Baroque", under the title Memoire DX. Only days later, singer and lyricist Tetsu left the band after his last gig on December 27. While the exact reasons are unknown, Tetsu went on to take a different direction in his work. The band's continued use of his lyrics in songs they continued to perform with later vocalists suggest an amicable split.
1995–1999: Gackt era
In 1995, after a year of inactivity, Malice Mizer recruited Gackt as their new vocalist. With a new concept created by Mana, the band's music became more art rock and synthpop, incorporating even stronger classical and electronic elements. Visually, the band abandoned their 1980s goth look for colorful historical costumes with a gothic feel. In 1996, Malice Mizer released their second album, Voyage ~Sans Retour~. The band became increasingly popular and in 1997 signed with Nippon Columbia, where they released a number of successful singles, a short film (Bel Air ~Kuuhaku no Shunkan no Naka de~ de L'image), and, in 1998, their major label debut album, Merveilles. The band even had their own radio show around this time and played a two day live at the Nippon Budokan, which involved a large building as a stage prop and elaborate theatrics; each member performing a skit with another member on their own (including [on "Le Ciel"] the aforementioned skit in which Gackt fell to the stage [to sing the song] and returned to "Heaven" by song's end). It was a massive success and was released on video as Merveilles l'espace. In July 1998, the Yokohama Arena's stage would be the last for Gackt as in January 1999, at the height of Malice Mizer's success, he would suddenly leave the band. No reason was given, but after just four months he would release his first solo EP. Malice Mizer left Nippon Columbia shortly after and returned to Midi:Nette.
A few months after Gackt's departure, drummer Kami died of a subarachnoid hemorrhage on June 21, 1999, leaving behind a handful of songs, which the band eventually released as part of the EP/video boxset Shinwa, which consists of 2 songs composed by him and the short track "Saikai" written by the band. Kami was never replaced; from that point on, Malice Mizer would only use support drummers (namely ex-Aion member Shu, who is not shown in the band's later promotional material, nor credited) and Kami would be credited as "eternal blood relative" on all their future releases. Possibly due to Kami's death and other factors, the band shifted to a "darker" image and sound.
2000–2001: Klaha era
In the second half of 1999 and the beginning of 2000, Malice Mizer, still without an official vocalist, released a number of singles and began to work on a new album. Eventually, they recruited Klaha (vocalist of dark wave band Pride of Mind), officially inducted into the band as a full member in January. By then the band had abandoned the lighter pop music sound of the Gackt era for a dramatic mixture of classical music, dark wave, with slight heavy metal elements, and adopted an elaborate funeral Goth look. In the summer of 2000, they released what would be their last album, Bara no Seidou. On August 31 and September 1, they gave a theatrical two-day live at the Nippon Budokan, featuring pyrotechnics, a choir of veiled nuns and a scaled-down cathedral as a stage prop. In 2001, Malice Mizer starred in a feature length vampire movie (Bara no Konrei ~Mayonaka ni Kawashita Yakusoku~), and released three more singles: "Gardenia", "Beast of Blood" and "Garnet ~Kindan no Sono e~"; "Gardenia" and "Garnet" being of a considerably lighter tone than their previous album, suggesting another new era for the band. However, the band members decided to go their own separate ways in 2001, leaving messages on their official website, which can still be viewed today. The split was spoken of as a "hiatus", so as not to exclude the possibility of a future reformation.
Post projects, unofficial reunion
After his departure in early 1999, Gackt started a solo career a year later which has been enormously successful; he is one of Japan's top musicians and TV personalities.
Klaha started a solo career as well in December 2002, but in the middle of 2004 it was announced that his fan club would be closing down, and after that there have been long periods of silence, only broken by rare updates on his site. In 2007 he stated on his site that he would resume musical activity that year. But this did not happen and no information has been announced since.
Yu~ki has not been active on the music scene since 2004 when he wrote the song "Memento", about Kami, for Közi's solo project. In an informal conversation with Klaha, he said he would like to return to the music scene.
Közi formed the industrial duo Eve of Destiny with Haruhiko Ash (ex:The Zolge) and also started a solo career. As of Halloween 2008 he is part of the band Dalle. Around June 2010, Közi started to perform with a band called My Horror Revue. He has also formed the band XA-VAT, who held their first performance on November 16, 2010 and released their first single on December 2. In 2012, he formed the band ZIZ with the musicians who supported him with his solo career.
Mana has formed his own solo project Moi dix Mois, which has performed live concerts across Europe. In addition to the successful solo project, Mana is a designer for his fashion label Moi-même-Moitié (created in 1999), which focuses on the styles Elegant Gothic Aristocrat and Elegant Gothic Lolita. He also continues to run his indie record label Midi:Nette, and has produced for artists such as Schwarz Stein and Kanon Wakeshima.
On December 27, 2008, Közi played on stage with Moi dix Mois for a session gig at their Dis Inferno Vol.VI ~Last Year Party~ event. He joined them again in 2009, when they went on a short 2 show tour called Deep Sanctuary, on July 17 in Osaka and the 19th in Tokyo. A year later in July 2010, Közi once again went on a tour with Moi dix Mois, titled Deep Sanctuary II. This tour had six shows, but the gig at Akasaka Blitz on the 17th was special, as former Malice Mizer bassist Yu~ki, was a special guest. This was the first time in 9 years that the 3 remaining original members played together. They played "Saikai no Chi to Bara" and "Beast of Blood", as well as a cover of Rob Zombie's "What Lurks On Channel X". On November 13, 2012, Moi dix Mois performed a tenth anniversary show at Osaka Muse Hall titled Le dixieme anniversaire Live 2011~2012 ~Tetsugaku no Hahen Dainana Shou Shinen naru Seiiki Deep Sanctuary III~. It included Közi's new band ZIZ and again featured Yu~ki as a guest.
Malice Mizer's song "Gekka no Yasoukyoku" was covered by D on the compilation Crush! -90's V-Rock Best Hit Cover Songs-, which was released on January 26, 2011 and features current visual kei bands covering songs from bands that were important to the '90s visual kei movement. Their song "Illuminati" was covered by Moran on its sequel, Crush! 2 -90's V-Rock Best Hit Cover Songs-, that was released on November 23, 2011.
- Mana – guitar, synth guitar, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion (1992–2001)
- Közi – guitar, synth guitar, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion, backing vocals (1992–2001)
- Yu~ki – bass, contrabass, percussion, backing vocals (1992–2001)
- Klaha – vocals (2000–2001)
- Former members
- Gaz – drums, percussion (1992–1993)
- Tetsu – vocals (1992–1994)
- Gackt – vocals, piano (1995–1999)
- Kami – drums, percussion (1993–1999)†
- After his death, the band listed Kami on all subsequent releases as "eternal blood relative".
- Support members
- Shu "Shue" Sakai – drums (2000–2001)
- Kazune – keyboards, synthesizers (2000–2001)
- "Malice Mizer". Allmusic.
- "Moi dix Mois tour with Közi and Yu~ki". jame-world.com. Retrieved November 26, 2010.
- "XA-VAT Information". jame-world.com. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
- "D covers Malice Mizer song". jame-world.com. Retrieved November 26, 2010.
- "Aoi, Moran, and more to release ’90s Visual Kei cover album". tokyohive.com. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
- Official website
- Mana's Official website
- Kozi's Official website
- Gackt's Official website
- Tetsu's Official website