exist†trace – Royal Straight Magic (Review)

J-Rock Reviews


Review by David Cirone


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”.


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.


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