Versailles’ latest release, “Holy Grail”, is their second major release with Warner Music Japan, one heavily anticipated by fans. The album takes a slightly different turn from past works though the tracks still strongly incorporate neoclassicism and complex melodies. It is heavily laden with romanticism, not simply in a quixotic sense or period style, but in regards love and emotion. The sorrow, devastation, and reminiscence described in former albums are still prevalent in this work, but there is a greater focus on love here.
“MASQUERADE”, the album’s introduction, wholly embodies the general feeling and recurring themes available in the album both melodically, lyrically, and emotionally. The beginning of the song is ominous and foreboding, highlighting obvious metallic elements, then tapers off into a gentle bridge and lively chorus. Versailles’ choice to feature this song as the highlight of the album and introduction to their new costumes proved wise, guiding their fans to what lies ahead. The lyrics in “MASQUERADE” also present an interesting comparison between the world and a masquerade ball, a sense of alluring mystery, and combined with a beautiful, mesmerizing melody.
Versailles also invigorates their audience with new endeavors, such as MASASHI’s own composition, “Thanatos”. The song ironically parallels MASASHI’s sinister look with its sorrowful, melancholy air, blended with something strangely wicked, and proves a highly successful contribution on MASASHI’s part.
Also notable, an acoustic, English track called “Love Will Be Born Again”. The song resembles former works of KAMIJO’s in Lareine, but in clearer quality, the English better pronounced. It offers a simple melody, causing the listener to focus on the hopeful, passionate words, all sung with a sort of torturous quiver, overwhelming the song with purpose. Other mentions include TERU’s growth in compositional skills, evident in “Flowery”, likely his most impressive composition to date.
HIZAKI makes another effort at lyricism in tracks “Remember Forever” and “DRY ICE SCREAM!! [Remove Silence]”. “Remember Forever” is a simple ballad, and HIZAKI’s most successful attempt with lyrics. Although the melody leaves something miniscule to be desired, it is sufficient for a ballad, and the lyrics substantiate the song with tenderness. In contrast, “DRY ICE SCREAM!!” a song notorious before the album even released because of its bold title, has a scattered, lively melody. In the track list sequence, the song appears to relate to nothing, but the fascinating and eclectic style make the song truly unforgettable. Lyrics such as “I’m looking for the meaning of life” connect the song to “Holy Grail” and the common theme of religion in Versailles’ works.
The most intimidating track is the nearly seventeen minute masterpiece, “Faith and Decision”. The song in itself is a journey, much like Versailles’ story, and should therefore be approached in such a manner. Because of the length, it is a song you cannot listen to in anticipation of anything, it requires a clear head. Additionally, it does not drone, but allows room for the instruments, later incorporating KAMIJO’s vocals. It is a precious piece.
Holy Grail is an album with variety, harmonizing melancholy darkness and hopeful light with romanticism. It is fulfilling, and stimulates multiple emotions, calling for a greater awareness of what is being spoken of, as well as of how those themes are presented. It is an album that can be studied, memorized, and cherished, and represents tremendous growth. Another success for Versailles.
Are you interested in supporting the band by getting your own copy of the release? Here is something to get you started:
Release: Holy Grail
Release date: June 15, 2011
CD number: WPCL-10963 / WPZL-30302/3 / WPZL-30304/5
You’ve probably noticed that the writing style of this review is different than some of the other reviews on the magazine. This is because this review was written by Khalia S, one of the guest-writers for Arlequin Magazine.
A Dutch translation of this review was made by Arlequin, to ensure that Dutch readers are also able to read Khalia’s work.