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Nov 16 2016

exist trace – Royal Straight Magic (Review)

exist†trace
ROYAL STRAIGHT MAGIC

Review by David Cirone

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exist†trace’s Royal Straight Magic is a dose of pure energy — from start to finish, the band just brings it, and just like their March 2016 release This Is Now, it’s a chance to experience the potent, encapsulated rush of the band’s now legendary live shows.

Every magic trick has a distraction, and this album’s puzzler is the extra layer of electronic effects in the otherwise rocking opener, “Psychedelic Black Night”. With its hard-driving drums, power chords, and full-throated war-cry choral shouts, this is everything exist†trace has come to represent to their fans — strong and assured. Add Jyou’s siren-like calls of “Come with me”, and it’s near perfect. exist†trace kills on stage, and this experienced, talented band doesn’t need any tricks to rock you. I hope they lose the zippy electro-effects when it comes time to play “PDN” live.

Guitarist Omi has delivered another treasure in her song “Yoake no Hikari”, and its beautifully-crafted structure is akin to her majestic work on “Kimi no Masshiro na Hane” (from 2011′s The Last Daybreak). A generous melody for Jyou and a stunning guitar solo balance out this track, and Jyou gets even more of the spotlight in the slow-burn seduction of “Kimi to Ame to Himitsu”.

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miko steps up for vocals on “Get Back”, and the electronics are used to sharper effect here, as counterpoint to both miko’s delivery and Mally’s “god-what-caffeine-is-she-on?” drum assault. Title track “Royal Straight Magic” is constructed in the same vein, and it packs a lot of wordplay into a possibly too-brief structure. Japanese rock isn’t known for mid-song instrumentals, but we get just a taste of what might become a sweet musical break in the live version. I wanted both “Get Back” and “Royal Straight Magic” to take a little more time to flex — especially on some of bassist Naoto’s teasingly dark flurries.

If there’s any element that solidifies the “magic show” theme of this EP, it’s saving “Sky” as the grand finale. Wow – what a song. exist†trace can sometimes be difficult to follow, and any band this accomplished is going to experiment here and there, but every once in a while they come back to lay any doubts to rest — this is a rock band that can hold the stage with anyone, anywhere. “Sky” starts with a racing drum beat and heavy chords, a full-force sonic rush. With its popping chorus, captivating harmonies, and moving lyrical message, it’s positioned as a perfect set-closing song. Halfway through the track we get that instrumental break I was so eager for, and then a sudden, chillingly beautiful vocal break comes in to propel this track even further towards heaven. When I saw “Sky” listed as the final number of the band’s “Survival March” concert this week, I thought “of course!” — it’s impossible to imagine anything else than the whole place singing along with “Sky’s” final chorus.

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exist†trace
ROYAL STRAIGHT MAGIC
Track List
01. Psychedelic Black Night (music/lyrics: miko)
02. ROYAL STRAIGHT MAGIC (music/lyrics: miko)
03. Yoake no Hikari (music/lyrics: Omi)
04. Kimi to Ame to Himitsu (music/lyrics: miko)
05. GET BACK (music/lyrics: miko)
06. SKY (music/lyrics: miko)

exist†trace Official Website: http://www.exist-trace.com
exist†trace on iTunes: http://smarturl.it/exist-trace_iTunes
exist†trace on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/exist-trace_Spotify
exist†trace on Google Play: http://smarturl.it/exist-trace_GGLPlay
exist†trace on Amazon MP3: http://smarturl.it/exist-trace_Amazon
exist†trace Official International Fan Club: http://archangel-diamond.com