We Love Hide: The Best in the World

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Released 11 years after Hide's death at 33 and not endowed with a wealth of rare or unreleased material, We Love Hide does have the trappings of a commercial release of dubious value to a real fan -- all the more so because Hide didn't release that many solo records and his albums were extensive to begin with. At two CDs, We Love Hide can be exhausting, because this much Hide reveals the usually less than obvious fact that his songs, despite all the stylistic and songwriting variations, were very similar in some regards, sharing the same predilection for energetic riff barrages and upbeat, mildly (or sometimes not) lunatic moods. But then again, the CDs can be perused one at a time, and a double helping of Hide is still a good thing, because the man really was one of the best alternative rockers of the '90s, hands down, with a unique knack for finding the spot where industrial rock, metal, rock & roll, and pure alternative rock (whatever that may be) converge and become indistinguishable, and building his catchy and multi-layered songs from there. The amount of material on We Love Hide also provides an interesting opportunity to see how he developed his sound after achieving stardom in X-Japan, the nation's most successful '80s metal group ever: Hide's music actually has elements of classic metal, such as the occasional solo passages, and traces of '80s pop/rock can be detected in the hooks, too, but all of the influences are radically reworked, as Hide used raw and abrasive guitars, distorted vocals, and programmed loops and melded them with positive melodies and even some strings to achieve a cohesive whole. Among other things, We Love Hide makes it obvious how much later J-rock bands, such as Merry and An Cafe, owe to Hide -- and what big shoes they have to fill now that he is gone -- though, thankfully, having left enough music to fill these two discs and still have some leftovers.