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Dec 31 2013

Kra – Life ~Today is a good day to Die~ (review)

RETRO REVIEW

Kra
Life ~Today is a good day to Die~

Review by Jen Wang

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The unusual title of Kra’s 2009 album, Life ~Today is a good day to Die~, is a good reflection of the band’s odd and complex nature. They can be a cheerful oshare kei unit, but they can also get dark and heavy. Life sees more of the latter with its many hard rock tracks. However, Kra does pack in a few surprises that are worth checking out.

The first three songs are very similar, containing piano or organ layered onto heavy guitar riffs. The duality of soft and hard is mirrored in Keiyu’s wide vocal range, as he alternates between a deep, forceful singing style to a more breathy sound. “Kizuna” stands out the most out of the trio with the turntable scratching and Mai ripping into the low notes.

“Rumble Fish” is a calmer tune that changes tempo two-thirds of the way in to keep things interesting. The strings are a beautiful addition, but the excessive cymbals overshadow them. Keiyu is all sass in the “Pied Piper”. It is easy to picture him with two 60s-style back-up singers in the “dame dame” part. Mai delivers a funky melody and a cool solo to fit the attitude. Even though their keyboardist/organist is not part of the band, he deserves recognition for his stellar contributions, particularly in “Hana ni Uta wo”. The playful chords add a lightness to counter the fast and fierce rapping in the verse.

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Again the duality of melodic and heavy elements in “Oniajara no Uta”, but it’s by no means the same song. The beautiful piano chords trickle down like rain over the thundering guitar and bass. There’s a nice intimate moment with Keiyu’s subdued vocals, the piano, and Yasuno’s soft drumming before Keiyu becomes passionate. By the end, he’s practically crying out the lyrics.

Yuhra finally gets to show off his signature slap-bass in “Dream Catcher”. Although the chorus disappointingly falls back on a typical upbeat, melodic rock sound, the catchy guitar hook and funky bass make it another stand-out piece. The next song, “Kono Sekai Tobidashite”, is full-on pop-punk cheerfulness. “Marry” concludes Life with optimism and guitars that sound like bells. The sweet song has such a different tone from the initial tracks that it is more like a segue into the band’s next release. It would have been nice to see this diversity in the first half of the album, but overall the album contains the mix of hard and soft, light and dark that makes Kra a unique visual kei band.