Back in 1999, a ferociously loud group called Sads was unleashed upon the Japanese rock scene with a debut album, "Sad Blood Rock 'N' Roll," that remains one of the most pungent and potent blasts of full-bodied rock mayhem to emerge post-"Appetite for Destruction." In the same way that Guns ' Roses embodied the raw, dark trashiness of the '80s Sunset Strip, Sads is the gob-smacked middle finger of Japan's new rock scene. Shamelessly glam and glamorously shameless (particularly the punk spasms of vocalist Kiyoharu), "Sad Blood Rock 'N' Roll" was woven from threads that ran through Tokyo's garage-rock scene, the country's healthy love of hard rock and the foppish overload of "visual kei," a kind of hyperglam monstrosity that's equal parts Sisters of Mercy and GWAR. Unbelievably (and unlike many of their kei counterparts, whose music quickly became progressively mushier and ballad-oriented as time passed), four years and three albums later, Sads is still making alarmingly aggressive and completely exciting new music. "13" isn't possessed of the open-wound paroxysms that made earlier tracks like "Honey Honey" so thrilling, but Kiyoharu's wobbly shout is still effective and the riff-conscious propulsion of songs like "Psycho," "Depravity Day" and "Too Fast to Die" maintains an impossibly high energy level throughout the album's, er, 13 tracks. Yes, Sads stretches out on some mellower tunes (the seven minutes of the melodramatic "Sherry" are about four minutes too much), but the majority of the album is given over to their strong point: blistering, full-on rock & roll that's thick with electricity and venom. While most guitar-driven rage in the States has been given over to angsty thud and post-metal posturing, it's incredibly inspiring to find a band this resolutely devoted to rock's explosively sexual power; meaning that, Sads may very well be the best rock band on the planet.
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