Realies

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When this young, colorful oshare band was signed to former La:Sadie's bassist Kisaki's influential Under Code Production in 2011, it came as a bit of a shock, for the label was then best known for dark, heavy, old-school kote kei. However, this debut album turned out to be one of its best-ever releases, and with the label's demise the following year, the band were all set to "graduate" to a bigger label and a successful career. Anyone expecting sugary, Ayabie-style pop-punk should stop reading now, however; Realies belong to a new generation of bands, such as Royz, Div, Unite, and Blu-Billion, who combine the highly melodic songwriting and clean, almost boy band vocals typical of the genre with thick, chunky, metallic riffing, heavy use of synths, programmed drums, electronic flourishes, and the odd bit of rapping. The album starts very strongly, with the opening quartet of songs all grabbing the listener's attention, and continues in much the same vein with barely a misstep. It's a very busy album, with loads going on in the soundfield, and the raw, bass-heavy, typically Under Code production gives it a very dense feel that makes it more at home on the label than might be expected. There's some great instrumental work here, with liquid basslines, interesting, nu-metal-influenced riffs, and classy soloing. The album does tend a little toward homogeneity, but even the most initially generic-sounding songs, such as "Change" or the single "Plug In," redeem themselves, often by shifting into a remarkably different, highly melodic middle eight at about the halfway mark. There's barely a let-up; the instrumental "Ability Aggregate" starts with one of the album's more subdued moments, but turns heavy halfway through, and it's not until near the end that Realies dial it down substantially for the obligatory piano-led ballad "Hoshi no Furu Machi" ("When You Wish Upon a Star"). The album wraps up with the fun single "NuAge," which synthesizes everything that is good about the band into an enjoyable finale that stops on a dime and leaves you itching to press the replay button. While there are a few throwaway moments, such as the cheesy "Sweet/Rouge," this is in the main a very good album with some very fine songs, which makes for a great introduction to this band and to the subgenre of visual kei.

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