Album review: Kato Kazuki - Face

Review: Kato Kazuki - FaceI was first introduced to a Kato Kazuki upon his starring in the Japanese drama Hotaru no hikari which I watched back in December. I found out the dude was also a singer aside from being an actor and my initial response was "I bet this dude sings like shit". I've watched many Japanese dramas and have found that these so called actors 'slash' singers can just about hold a song. They're just good looking dudes who happen to have a record deal and nothing else. Kato is not that guy. He's an artist first and you can hear it in his voice and in his music from the word go.

Kato's vocals are strong and whilst not exuding the power and range of an artist like Gackt, his singing talent is more than substantial. Kato's vocal ability and delivery are what sell his songs. As with Gackt, his singing style isn't always as harsh as the music he is singing over the top of and this is what gives his music a very mainstream, radio friendly touch as opposed to chronic, ear piercing wailing like a Sea lion giving birth.

Despite being a J-Rock artist and Kato looking like a bonus character from Devil may cry, the music on Face is pretty easy listening on the whole. Whilst it has its loud thrasing moments with the awesomely anthemic "Glory", the punked out "Carnation" and the head banging "Starlight dreamer", the rest of the album is pretty midtempo. "Our future ~March 4~" is a nice laid back song, perfect for when you're in the car taking a nice drive. "Soul survivor" strums away nicely with its Fleetwood Mac inspired sound and "One" is a stripped down ballad which closes the album with its sparse melody comprised of violins and an acoustic guitar.

Face has a very cohesive sound. And whilst many of the songs stick to the same formula of electric guitars, drums, cymbals and Kato wailing on the choruses, no two songs sound the same. It would've been nice if there was a bit more variety in terms of the instruments used and the production style, but on the whole the album has a well rounded sound. The next step for Kato is to take more control of his music by contributing to it lyrically. He gets some points for writing three of the thirteen songs on Face (all 3 of which are solid songs), but it's not enough - not for a J-Rocker and somebody who is clearly capable of writing good, catchy songs.

Face is a solid album and very polished for a debut. It's just a shame that the song "Kimi to zutto" from his mini album Rough diamond wasn't included on this album, as it's a great song.

Kato Kazuki's 'Face' scores itself a 7 out of 10
Album highlights:
■ Glory
■ Our future ~March 4~ J's fave
■ Real
■ Soul survivor
■ One

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