Dead End are an influential Japanese heavy metal band that were formed in Tokyo in 1984. They have been considered one of the leaders of "Visual Kei," a style and sound many Japanese hard rock and heavy metal bands have been categorized for, although some say that Visual Kei is merely a term used to describe the artists' look and not their sound, the subject of much dispute. In Dead End's case, Visual Kei would seem to mean big hair, lots of leather, flashy clothes and blaring guitars. They have been said to have influenced many artists, the most famous probably being L'Arc-En-Ciel frontman Hyde.
Dead End actually broke up in 1990 but got back together almost 20 years later in 2009 and have been going strong again ever since.
To be perfectly honest, I must admit that Dream Demon Analyzer is the first album by Dead End that I've ever heard. And the first time I listened to it I wasn't terribly impressed. In fact, it was only after researching them and discovering how influential they've been that I decided to give them another spin. Then I found myself impressed by their surging guitars, pulse-pounding drums and powerful vocals. Which isn't to say that I loved them upon my second listen but I was certainly captivated enough to give them a third listen, which is when they finally won me over. Now I've listened to Dream Demon Analyzer at least a dozen times and look forward to buying some of their earlier albums at some point.
The album begins with one of its strongest tracks, the grinding but fast "Suishoujuu". It starts off splaying the album's M.O. with guitars that sound like some of Zakk Wylde's best work for Ozzy, but the surging rhythm is more reminiscent of Iron Maiden, perhaps furious but also very precise. These are masterful players and songwriters and "Suishoujuu" especially showcases Morrie's potent but melodic vocals and You's mesmerizing guitar work, which includes some captivating solos that rival the work of German metal masters Helloween. Track two, "Conception," is even faster and harder, showcasing the heart-racing abilities of drummer Minato. It's not quite as brutal as Slayer, to be sure, but not far behind either. That said, their clean vocals are more Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford. In fact, the album often reminded me of Judas Priest's Painkiller, arguably their heaviest -- and fastest -- album. Dream Demon Analyzer does have its slower moments, too, though. "Angel," for example is perhaps more like The Cult than metal bands. That said, Morrie starts off almost whispering the vocals and in a rather evil tone. Elsewhere on the album he almost sings in the growling, demonic manner that death metal bands are known for. To that end, Dead End clearly draw from a rather colorful palette, each of their songs having its own unique identity even if there are certain vibes that reoccur throughout the album. A must for any metal fan, including those who normally wouldn't listen to music that isn't in English. Just be prepared to give it a little time to grow on you. ~Michael McCarthy