MALICE MIZER - To The Stars And Back Again

biography - 04.13.2013 12:37

Glittering success, drama, tragedy and a sound and image that set new standards - the story of MALICE MIZER has it all. We chart the career of this legendary visual kei band from its humble beginnings to the present day.

MALICE MIZER was founded in 1992 by von Mana (guitar, synthesizer) and Közi (guitar, synthesizer), with Tetsu on vocals, Yu~ki on bass and Gaz on drums. During this time, their sound was a blend of early eighties gothic rock and classical music, especially baroque music. From the outset, the band also established its trademark 'twin guitar' sound whereby two guitars play different melodies that, together, become the actual guitar part of a song.

In 1993, MALICE MIZER published their first song, Speed of Desperate, on the compilation Brain Trash. Shortly after, Gaz left the band and was replaced by B>Kami (ex Kneuklid Romance).

In the following year, the band released their first album, Memoire, on Manas newly founded label Midi:Nette, which quickly sold out and was re-released a couple of months later with an additional track under the name Memoire DX. Only a few days later vocalist Tetsu left the band because he did not agree with the concept of incorporating dance routines and pantomime plays into their stage shows. However, the break seems to have been amicable since Tetsu, who has since been active in several other bands, continues to be on friendly terms with the other members of MALICE MIZER.

Forced to pause for a year while looking for a new vocalist, they finally found him in Gackt (ex Cains:Feel). Under his influence MALICE MIZERs image changed drastically. Black lace and rosaries were swapped for colourful historical costumes and their music became more romantic in its mood, incorporating even stronger classical influences, as well as techno and French pop music.

In 1996, they released their second album, Voyage ~sans retour~, followed by a sold-out nation-wide tour, and in 1997 they signed a record deal with the major label Nippon Columbia. Here they released a string of singles, their wildly successful third album Merveilles, which debuted at #2 on the Oricon charts, and the short film Verte Aile / Bel Air ~de l'image~, which was shot in France. This was followed by more sold-out tours (the tickets for their Merveilles concert at the Nippon Budokan sold out within two minutes!) and regular TV appearances, and they even had their own radio show.

In January 1999, however, Gackt left the band to begin a solo career, taking a substantial part of their fan base with him. The circumstances of this departure are the subject of speculation even today. Gackt made several contradictory statements, in which he cited differences with management and the other band members, amongst others. MALICE MIZER, on the other hand, claimed that he had left suddenly and without explanation, and their management threatened to sue him for breach of contract.

While fans and the media were still debating, MALICE MIZER suffered an even harder blow: drummer Kami died suddenly from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, aged only 25. He left behind a handful of songs, which the band eventually released as part of the box set Shinwa, which was dedicated to his memory. Kami was never replaced. From now on, MALICE MIZER only used support drummers and B>Kami was credited as 'eternal blood relative' on all their future releases.

In late 1999 MALICE MIZER, now back on Manas indies label Midi:Nette and still without a vocalist, began to work on new releases. They abandoned the romantic pop sound of the Gackt era for a dramatic mix of classical music, gothic rock and metal, which saw them return to their musical roots, and adopted an elaborate funereal goth look.

In the summer of 2000, MALICE MIZER released their fourth album, Bara no Seidou, introducing their third and final vocalist, Klaha (ex Pride of Mind). This was followed by their most spectacular live show to date, a two day concert at the Nippon Budokan featuring pyrotechnics, a choir of veiled nuns and a life size gothic cathedral as stage prop.

In 2001, the band starred in the feature-length vampire film Bara no Konrei, released three singles and began to work on a new album, but MALICE MIZER had reached a cross roads. Up to now, the band members had always worked within the framework of MALICE MIZER's concept of 'what is human?', but they were beginning to feel restricted. In December 2001, after almost ten years together, they therefore decided to go their separate ways.

Klaha began a solo career. Mana started his own solo project, Moi dix Mois, and simultaneously pursues a career as fashion designer for his gothic lolita label, Moi-même-Moitié. Since 2004, he has signed several record deals with European labels, which went on to also publish some of MALICE MIZER's releases internationally. Közi has participated in a number of different bands, among them Eve of Destiny, XA-VAT and ZIZ, and also has a solo project. The whereabouts of Yu~ki were unknown until he resurfaced in 2004 as lyricist for one of Közi’s solo songs. He now works as jewellery designer and sells his brand "Mother of Life" through Mana's web shop.

Despite pursuing separate careers, the founding members of MALICE MIZER remain on friendly terms. Over the years, there have been several reunion events where Mana, Közi and Yu~ki have formed session bands and performed classic MALICE MIZER songs, initially at Dis Inferno, Moi dix Mois's traditional end of year party, and since 2009 as part of the concerts series Deep Sanctuary.
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