Always less flashy than most of their visual kei peers, "angura" (underground) stars heidi. burst onto the scene in 2006, plying a straight-ahead, no-nonsense style of rock & roll with minimally distorted, tremolo-heavy guitars, catchy, fast-paced songs, and an uncluttered production style. Sharply dressed in muted shades, they were distinctly different from the garishly colored, ultra-saccharine oshare bands that were starting to break through at the time. They came across like a less-threatening version of their hardcore Nagoya brethren, and the fans lapped it up.
heidi. were formed early in 2006 by guitarist Nao and bassist Kohsuke, late of obscure indie band Kalimero; vocalist Yoshihiko of Sics; and drummer Kiri, from the better-known Kannivalism. They played their first live show on June 3 of that year, a free concert at which they sold copies of their self-released debut single. Word-of-mouth buzz built up quickly, and their next release, the mini-album Doukoku (Lamentation), sold well. A couple of compilation appearances and another single, the brilliant "Clover," led up to the release of their debut album, Kasou (Vortex Extravaganza), in April 2007, which they supported with extensive touring. Just a year later the band issued their second album, Innocence, and shortly thereafter were invited to perform at the "memorial summit" for late X Japan guitarist Hide, alongside giants of the genre such as Luna Sea and X Japan themselves. It was their biggest ever gig, playing to tens of thousands, and as a result their popularity soared.
Their third album, Panorama (2009), also saw release in Europe thanks to a deal with Germany's Gan-Shin Records, and in 2010 they went major with Geneon Universal, which released their fourth album, Senkou Mellow (Mellow Flash). Its lead single "Yokan" (Premonition) was used as an anime ending theme, and consequently gave them their highest ever chart position. That year heidi. also made an appearance in the movie Maebashi Visual Kei, about a farm boy who tries to make it big in a visual kei band. A mini-album, Sixth Sense, followed in 2011, and an "indies best" collection, Kaisou, arrived in early 2012. But there wasn't much by way of musical progression, and by the time their fifth album, Alpha, rolled around, some felt that the band's sound was starting to get stale. Declining sales figures didn't deter the band, however, or their hardcore fan base, who remained as committed as ever. ~ John D. Buchanan
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