Review: REIGN – Kyumei

 About the Band: REIGN is a brand-spanking-new Loud-Kei band made up of ex-AND members Ikuma (Vo) and Kaji (Dr), and newcomers Ryuzi (Ba), Nagi (Gt), and Tano (Gt). Their image is that of mischievous demons and their fans are referred to as Koakuma, or Little Devils. Kyumei is the second of a promised five releases.

The Packaging: This single came in only one version with a pretty standard single-disc package. The cover art depicts a rather forlorn-looking little boy sitting on the hand of a clock surrounded by troubling red eyes. Also hanging from the clock is a lantern. The disc itself is printed with a clock set to 7:05. Their previous release, Giwaku, was also printed with a clock set to a different time. I am curious to see if it becomes thematically relevant.

The Tracks: I want to start this review by saying how much I appreciate the fact that this release, as well as the one that came before it, contain three ACTUAL songs and not two songs and an SE. I mean, get real, we all know the SE is filler and I can’t help but feel more like I’m getting what I paid for when I get actual songs.
Anywho, let’s get on with it.
M1: Death ParadE
Composed by: Ryuzi
This track opens with the eerie sound of an organ playing a bouncy tune which is soon joined by the rest of the band, producing a strange, crunchy thing that sounds something like a broken music box. Ikuma joins the fray with a catchy, chant-worthy “Let’s joy paradE” (yes, Ikuma’s English makes no damn sense, but that’s why we love him, right?) that will stick in your head for weeks. Trust me on this one. The story of the song is that of a demon trying to tempt the listener away from life to join his parade of joyful monsters and the motif of the song fits this image perfectly. I can almost see a little accordion-playing imp dancing in my head as I listen. And I want to squash him.

M2: 「撲殺?毒殺?ねぇ、ダーリン?」
Composed by: Tano
This song may start out all electronic dissonance but it’s all about the guitars on this one. While the main riff is pretty simple and repetitive, it is broken up by some delightful back and forth between the two guitarists as they trade solos, bouncing off of and wrapping around each other with delicious melodies. Tano and Nagi, while still green, show great potential in this song. Give them a couple years experience and they’ll be battling on stage like pros. The plainness of the main riff seems to be designed to make room for the dynamic bass fills that pervade the verses, filling the noiseless gaps with pops that lead seamlessly into a catchy hook that will find you swaying in your seat.
M3: Bunny Go Round
Composed by: Kaji
This one sounds like AND put through a blender. If you don’t know what that sounds like, think a pair of sneakers in an off-balance washing machine. But, in a good way. Ikuma’s powerful vocals are the highlight here. Silk throated and sandpaper-tongued, he roars his way through a labyrinth of grinding guitars and skull-crushing drums. I have to say, Ikuma is one of my favorite growlers and I am so happy to see it put to good use. And the drums. My God, the drums. Every inch of this song strikes like a bullet, giving only the slightest moments of relief. Silences punctuated by canon blasts. This is the kind of song that leaves you gasping for air and feeling like you’ve just run a marathon in four and a half minutes. So, naturally, it’s my favorite.

All in all, this single is a great example of what this young band has to offer. As an AGENT of AND, I couldn’t be happier with Kaji and Ikuma’s performance as they deliver all the melodic rage I’ve come to expect from them. Couple that with the all the young potential in their new lineup, and it makes for a band worth watching. I can’t wait to see them grow into the powerhouse I know they can be.
I am already so intrigued by the story that is unfolding.  And this is only the beginning.

~ Kort

Kyumei / Reign