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When visual kei heroes Pierrot split up in 2006 at the height of their fame, vocalist Kirito, bassist Kohta, and drummer Takeo — unhappy with the way things had gone — decided to re-form as a new band with the same aesthetic and musical style. Kirito once again picked up the guitar (he had been one of Pierrot’s guitarists before he became their vocalist), a “support” guitarist, Toru, who had formerly played with techno-metallers the Mad Capsule Markets, was recruited for live shows, and Angelo was born.

Signing immediately with Sony Music, they played their first gig, a free concert in Tokyo’s hip Shibuya district, and in November, just seven months after Pierrot’s disbandment, they released their debut single, the fittingly titled Reborn. Together with the follow-up single, "Winter Moon," it defined Angelo’s signature sound: driving, propulsive rock with relatively simple song structures, based around repetitive, aggressive riffing with an almost industrial feel. This dark sound, together with the band’s slightly sinister image, captivated fans of Pierrot and gained the band many new ones.

In April 2007 they released their debut album, Rebirth of Newborn Baby, and undertook an extensive tour of Japan. While somewhat homogenous, the album sold well. Four months later, Kirito released his second solo album, Negative, which like his first, 2005’s Hameln, had a poppier sound. Hameln’s release had arguably led to the breakup of Pierrot, despite Kirito’s assurances at the time that he was committed to the band; guitarists Jun and Aiji followed suit with side projects — Alvino and LM.C. respectively — and decided these were more important to them than continuing with Pierrot. They have both continued to have successful careers with these bands.

Again, Kirito stressed his dedication to his main band and this time, his solo album had no adverse impact. Just four months later, Angelo released a new mini-album, The Freak Show. It had a rougher, more industrial sound than the full-length album, but was derided by some fans for sounding rushed. The band, undeterred, devoted most of 2008 to touring, taking time out only to record and release two more singles. The next year, they released the follow-up album, Metallic Butterfly, which continued in much the same vein as the first, albeit with slightly more variation and a somewhat more polished sound.

However, their next single, "Hikari no Kioku" ("Memory of Light"), was a ballad which marked a very deliberate change — arguably prompted by their move to a new label in the Sony stable — to a much more melodic, accessible, and pop-driven songwriting style more in keeping with the "typical" visual kei sound. It, and the follow-up single "El Dorado," were licensed as theme songs for anime series, a move popular among major-label visual kei bands due to its guarantee of widespread exposure. Their third album, Design, released in October 2010, was in keeping with this new style, much to the dismay of some fans, but it won over a whole new legion of followers for whom the band’s former sound had perhaps seemed too abrasive or one-dimensional. ~ John D. Buchanan, Rovi

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2007 in Japan

Years Active:

'00s, '10s