Hyde

Faith

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Hyde's main job is nominally L'Arc-en-Ciel -- a fine-tuned machine for turning those U2 and '80s hard rock songs into visual kei hits with a slight Euro-metal tinge (thankfully kitsch-free). In his independent work, Hyde doesn't stray too far from that sound, but Faith is still a good indication of why his solo career is considered on par with his band's efforts. The album is a focused and hook-laden affair with great songwriting, which already differentiates it from many vanity projects of rock vocalists (say, James LaBrie). It's also something of a mirror image of L'Arc-en-Ciel, having the same set of influences, but downplaying the pop/rock ones and highlighting the metal part: the U2 vibe is present, and even prominent, but on Faith it seems more of a shell that encompasses the core Muse/Euro-metal hybrid. Granted, Euro-metal is not the exact word here: Hyde still can sound like Michael Kiske from Helloween, and the lyrics are not devoid of pomp ("Jesus Christ, I'll be with you"), but Hyde can do more than that, both vocally and in his songwriting. Faith is rather reminiscent of Devin Townsend or Dan Swanö's non-death metal work, being an elaborate blend of synth textures and intense, often multi-layered heavy riffs that don't care too much for "verse-chorus" schemes. Hyde, however, trades the proggy meanderings for post-grunge streamlined melodies, and comes off the better for it, especially since, true to L'Arc-en-Ciel fashion, there's a bunch of other influences around, such as industrial guitars, bluesy swagger, and power pop bits. For all its intensity, each track on the album is a sure hit, delivered with charisma that can't be imitated unless you feel yourself a rock star and, well, are one. Faith may feel a bit calculated because of that aplomb, but there's no denying the almost surprising power of the record. [The bonus DVD features videos for "Countdown" and "Season's Call."]

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Spotify
2 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick