Visual Kei emerged in the late 1980s, pioneered by the band X Japan. along with others such as D'erlanger and Color, who are regarded as influencing the fashion and music associated with Visual Kei bands. X Japan's drummer Yoshiki Hayashi used the term to describe the band's slogan "Psychedelic Violence Crime of Visual Shock".
Color vocalist "Dynamite Tommy" formed his record company Free-Will in 1986, which has been a major contributor in spreading modern Visual Kei outside Japan.
In 1992, X Japan launched an attempt to enter the European and American markets, but it would take another 8 years until popularity and awareness of Visual Kei bands would extend worldwide.
In the mid 1990s, Visual Kei received an increase in popularity throughout Japan, when album sales from Visual Kei bands started to reach record numbers. The most notable bands to achieve success during this period included, X Japan, Glay, Luna Sea, and L'Arc-en-Ciel, however a drastic change in their appearance accompanied their success.
During the same period, bands such as Kuroyume, Malice Mizer, and Penicillin, gained mainstream awareness, although they were not as commercially successful.
By 1999, mainstream popularity in Visual Kei was declining, X Japan had disbanded, and the death of lead guitarist Hideto Matsumoto in 1998 had denied fans a possible reunion. It wasn't long before Luna Sea decided to disband in the year 2000, and L'Arc-en-Ciel went on a hiatus the same year.
In 2007 the genre has been revitalized, as Luna sea announced they would perform a one-off performance, and X Japan announced they would reunite. With these developments, Visual kei bands enjoyed a boost in public awareness, described by the media as "Neo-Visual Kei".
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Created: Dec 27, 2007
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