[Review] ALSDEAD: BORN TO BE DEAD DVD

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Written by Tyas Palar

Visual kei band ALSDEAD decided to go on hiatus starting October last year. Before they bid their fans farewell, they held a series of one-mans in Tokyo. On September 12, they held an acoustic one-man ‘Born To Be Dead: PROLOGUE’ in Shinjuku LOFT, followed by ‘Born To Be Dead: ch.1’ in Higashi Koenji Niman Den-atsu (September 18), ‘Born To Be Dead: ch. 2’ in Shibuya REX (September 19), and lastly ‘Born To Be Dead: CODA’ in Takadanobaba AREA on October 9.

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The curtains have been drawn over their last stage before hiatus, but ALSDEAD still had one more present to the fans: live DVD titled Born To Be Dead. The mere presence of the live DVD (consisting of 3 discs, actually) is tempting enough – too many visual kei bands have disappeared without leaving legacy in the form of well-documented lives. I have a soft spot for ALSDEAD, and I don’t want to waste this chance to have their live DVD, so I decided to pre-order one. And there were special bonuses for pre-orders too. First, the pre-ordered version would come with CDs containing the recorded live (the CODA of the live series); second, all members would sign the DVD; and third, there would be presents from our favourite members!

Fans of guitarist Shin and drummer Nikky would get to attend events where they would teach how to play their respective music instruments. Fans of Maki the singer would get one hand-written lyrics of any ALSDEAD song that we wanted. And fans of bassist Yosuke would get one comment DVD in which he’d call our name and say whatever we wanted him to say. Me? Oh, I’m a Yosuke fan.

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So no wonder that when I finally received my DVD—it was originally shipped in December last year to a friend’s house in Japan, and I only got the chance to pick it up in February—the first thing I did was to check for Yosuke’s comment DVD. Just to have it in my hand and imagine how the content would be like was enough to give me shivers, and I had to muffle a cry when I opened the DVD case and found that he had signed the DVD, complete with my name. It was a sweet, nice surprise to all his fans—and handy to ensure that the DVDs didn’t get switched, I presume. The content? We’ll get to that later.

The Born To Be Dead DVD itself, like I mentioned above, consists of 3 DVDs. The first one is of the live itself; the second one showcases backstage footages from all the one-mans in the live series and footages that focus only on one member each; while the third disc contains ten of ALSDEAD music videos. The accompanying booklet chronicles all the singles ALSDEAD has ever released, with notes from Maki about the meaning or the story behind the song.

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ALSDEAD presented a long setlist—a total of 30 songs—for their pre-hiatus last live in Takadanobaba AREA. Knowing the shape and size of AREA, I figure it’s a bit difficult to position cameras to get good shots in the live house. This results, for instance, in shots from the front of the stage looking very narrow and cramped sometimes. But it doesn’t diminish the quality of performance that ALSDEAD gave in what would be their last live for a (hopefully not long) while. And the cameras could still get amazing shots including close-ups of the members—including Nikky, who got his own camera, behind the drumset.

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ALSDEAD presented songs both old and new—from their very first single VOR to their latest INAZUMA. They didn’t lose energy as the live progressed, and with some live favourites slotted nearing or at the end of the set, there was no reason for the audience to run out of gas. I found that I still really love In Bloom—which was what made me interested in them the first time—but of course the other songs in the set are not to be missed. After the highly energetic, fist-pump inducing Life of Sorrow, the main set was closed by Flashback (fondly referred by the band simply as Furaba).

After giving the fans chance to have a break, ALSDEAD returned for an encore, toning down the heat a bit with Flight and Heaven. But they kicked back into high gear with Peggy O, with its moment of cuteness, which is Yosuke’s mid-song emcee. This emcee is something that fans always look forward to in ALSDEAD’s lives, with Yosuke either being very cute or simply silly or both at the same time during the part. To Nikky’s continuous drum beat, he might rile or beg the audience to shout ‘Peggy O’—or sometimes ‘Maki-o!’ or whatever he wanted us to shout at the time—enticing laughter from the audience and preparing them to dive back into the song with Maki’s roar.

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It is also fun to catch a glimpse of the fans doing furitsuke or headbang, and to hear them shout the names of the members. One male fan sounded very dedicated!

As for the second disc, it is valuable because it shows us how the boys are actually offstage. We get to see them joke around, Nikky do his silly acts, and other things they don’t show us on stage. The most touching part to me was when Shin introduced the flower stand foreign/overseas fans prepared for the band, on display at the live house during CODA. He looked very grateful as he pointed at the flowers and the names written on the card. I’m positive that ALSDEAD could feel all the love the fans poured into preparing the flowers.

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The sound mixing of the two live CDs that come with the DVD was decent, but not too sharp nor clean, to be honest. It could have been prepared better. The recording is a bit raw, not much refined, a bit muffled at times. But it’s still a nice means to focus on listening to the live, cherishing the sound and emotions the members produced with their instruments. We can also listen better to Maki singing, screaming and growling—and think, amazed, that this was how good he sounded in live performances.

And, oh, yes, the comment DVD from Yosuke. So did he really call my name and say a special message to me? Yes. Yes he did, and he looked so cute and sweet in it. Then again Yosuke is one of the cutest things there ever were, but I am biased, so let this screen cap speaks for itself.

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(He also has a message for everyone in the DVD, by the way.)

All in all, the DVD is a gem to be had by fans, both those who want to treasure the lives they have enjoyed with the band or those who have never been to their lives or instores and wanted to see what they were like. Unfortunately, the orders for the DVD have been closed, so you might have to find the DVD on auction or secondhand stores like Puresound or Closet Child.

My final words in this review: this DVD makes me somehow feel loved. I feel that ALSDEAD has worked hard in giving us a ‘goodbye for now’ present that won’t disappoint, that could help us fill the lonely days while they go about in their own ways, and as we wait for them to return… more alive than before.

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