Madeth Gray'll were a visual-kei band formed in the late 90s. Even though they were only around for a very short period of time, their music greatly influenced the scene and to this day band still try to emulate their style. Dark, moody, eccentric, and a bit insane, Madeth Gray'll were incredibly adept at creating songs with one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Undoubtably they were one of the flagship bands of the Matina label, and even today they still have a dedicated cult following.
Madeth Gray'll were one of those rare gems in visual kei that created something that really stands out amongst all of their contemporaries. While it was not uncommon for bands in 1997 to be dark and moody, Madeth Gray'll took it to a whole different plane by creating truly eerie atmospheres and a tortured soundscape that has yet to be repeated effectively. Their name has an air of mystery to it as well, as there are several theories behind its meaning, but no official statement to end the speculation. Some of these theories include: a portmanteau of the phrase "My Death's Gray Will"; the pseudo translation of the name of their first mini-album (狂 - MAD, 死 - DEATH, 楽園 - GRAIL / PARADISE--some of their older fans refer to them as "狂死楽園"); and the ever popular "it doesn't mean anything." While their musical technique was not always spotless, there is something to be said about a band who can create perfection out of imperfection: their shortcomings and rawness not only helped make them who they are but helped make their music convincing and memorable.
The band's original lineup consisted of only two members: vocalist KEI and guitarist 静流 (Shizuru). KEI and 静流 were both guitarists from the band Vierge and 静流 was also briefly in L~CYFER. Their first release was the song "廃人狂イ人形 (Haijin Kurui Ningyou)" on the Matina (a now defunct record label from the late 90s, owned by Kisaki of Phantasmagoria) omnibus NEW AGE CULTURE～第一楽章～ (~Daiichi Gakushou~), which debuted on October 20th, 1997. This song was later rereleased after the band got signed to a record label. Shortly after the release of their first song, new members joined the band. These new members were bassist 雪那 (Yukina), also from L~CYFER, and guitarist 歪 (Hizumi) from vie eternele. With their addition, the band began releasing a long series of demo-tapes, all of which completely sold out: 呪ワレシ華ノ生命… (Norowareshi Hana no Semei) on November 1st; 黒装束の調ベ (Kuroshouzoku no Shirabe) on November 23rd; missantroop on December 24th; and 聖夜に奏でる狂死曲 (Seiya ni Kanaderu Kyoushi Kyoku) on December 25th. Their first three demo tapes were able to be purchased through Matina even the band was not officially revealed yet. It should also be noted that that point, the band had not had a single live performance and their line-up was still under wraps. The band's first official "secret" live was on December 25th, with the release of their 4th demo, and the band was revealed as "Madeth Gray'll." Before their unveiling, the band was referred to as "vierge members unit band."
At the start of 1998, KEI changed his name to 翡翠 (Hisui), which he kept from then on in each band he was a part of. This year marked their official start of activities and they announced their first real release, 狂死楽園 (Kyoushi Rakuen), set to be released on April 4th. To promote its release, the band held three lives in which a sample demo was distributed. Each single was named after their respective performance: 白昼夢の惨劇 (Hakuchuumu no Sangeki) was released on March 20th; 血染めの喜劇 (Chizome no Kigeki) on March 21st; オペラ座の悲劇 (OPERA Za no Higeki) on March 27th. Aside from 狂死楽園, these demos were mostly short samples of each song typically only containing a verse, a refrain, and then a fade out into some sort of grim ambiance. 狂死楽園 itself contained 6 tracks, including re-recordings of "missantroop," " 呪ワレシ華ノ生命…," and "黒装束の調ベ." This tape was limited to 1500 copies and had a second pressing on June 25th, 1998, that was limited to 2000 copies.
1998 was both a productive and tragic year for Madeth Gray'll. On May 2nd, 歪 was killed in a car accident on his way to hide's (of X Japan) funeral. In spite of their loss, the band continued activities. Shortly after, the band asked their support drummer, 椿 (Tsubaki) to join. With his addition, they released two CDs in honor of 歪 which were finished being composed by him a few days before his death. This release was entitled 白昼夢の惨劇 and continued the full version of the demo song with the same name. The 'white version' was released on August 8th, and the 'black version' was released on August 9th. The very next day, the band released their first music video for the song "パラサイト (PARASAITO)" and their first single, 十字架の結末… (Juujika no Ketsumatsu...).
Within a few months of this single's release, both 静流 and 椿 left the band. Before the year was up, the remaining members of the band released a live VHS tape entitled 螺旋階段と記憶 (Rasen Kaidan to Kioku). The band remained dormant for the end of 1998 and became revitalized in 1999 with the recruitment of 右狂 (Ukyou) on guitar. They were also featured on the omnibus New Age Culture ~第二楽章~ with the song "Le Miserable," released on January 27th. Through this Matina, they released the second pressing of 十字架の結末… on June 30th, along with a new single, 十字架の結末 ～第二の悲劇～ (Juuijija no Ketsumatsu~Daini no Higeki~). A new guitarist also joined the band in the summer of that year: 泉 (Izumi), from Distray. On August 8th, the band released a live-distributed single entitled Mother Complex and was the live 泉 was officially added to the line-up. Unfortunately, this would be the last release 右狂 would be a part of before departing from the band.
In October of 1999, the band recruited a new drummer: 麗華 (Reika). With this four-piece line-up, the band released their first album on March 29th, 2000: Lucifer ～魔境に映る呪われた罪人達と生命の終焉～ (Lucifer ~Makyou ni Utsuru Norowareta Tsumibitotatchi to Seimei no Juuen~). This album is considered by many to be a quintessential and representative album of indies visual kei in the late 1990s, especially since all of the tracks on the album were original. The album's 1st and 2nd presses were limited to 10,000 copies each. It is unknown how limited the 3rd pressing of the album was. At this time, the band also had a support guitarist named 藍梨 (Airi). Eventually, 藍梨 was asked to officially join the band and once again the group was a full 5-piece unit. Before his addition, however, the band did release a new recording of "黒装束の調ベ" on the Matina omnibus Prelude in April of 2000. Towards the end of the year, 雪那 announced his decision to leave the band. On the 28th of November, the band made an official announcement about his departure and stated that they did not want to continue without him. At this live, a new version of "呪ワレシ華ノ生命…" was released to commemorate the band and how far they had come. On the 29th of November, they released their last mini-album: 亡界ノ魔都 ～Entith de marge～ (Boukai no Mato). On this same day, 藍梨 was inducted as an official member.
The band's last live was January 29th, 2001. They released a VHS of this live entitled Last Video as a memorial for the band. The day after their disbandment, Matina released a history collection album entitled Madeth gray'll ～悲劇ノ終幕～ (~Higeki no Shuumaku~). This album contained all re-recorded songs from throughout their history. Today, this collection album sells for quite a good deal of money on auction sites because of how coveted it still is.
After their disbandment, many of the members moved on to other projects. 翡翠 formed a new band named Jelly Berry with 右狂 that released a grand total of 1 song, and then joined 藍梨 in Schwardix Marvally. He also performed as a guest vocalist in the band 妃＆関西貴族 (Kisaki & Kansai Kizouku). After the end of Schwardix Marvally, he began doing just session performances until 2004 where he evaporated into thin air. Before joining Schwardix Marvally, 藍梨 became a part of the band Crack Brain, which is how he became aquainted with Hizaki. 雪那 later became the vocalist of Qyubere, which is a non-visual rock band. Lastly, 麗華 joined the band ドレミ團 (Doremidan) under the name 零華 (still pronounced "Reika").
Special thanks to a few people for helping me out with this! Hyura for making sure I got my history straight as well as contributing a lot of tidbits I wasn't able to find just by making a narrative out of dates; Champ for helping with some romanization questions; Re:pli:cant for finding a useful graphic to illustrate the line-up history; and 薔薇の末裔 for helping with more romanizations.
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