Re:vale “Re:al Axis” (Review)

Re:Vale new artist photo

Re:al Axis is filled with energy and passion. The album compiles old hits as well as two stunning new songs that hint at the group’s new direction. A look at the past, present and a hint of the future, Re:al Axis is a release you don’t want to miss.

Regular edition

Title: Re:al Axis
Label: Lantis
Release date: 05/12/2018
Genre: J-Pop/Dance/Rock

Tracklist:

01. NO DOUBT
02. 激情
03. Dis one.
04. 太陽のEsperanza
05. TO MY DEAREST
06. 星屑マジック
07. 奇跡
08. SILVER SKY

Track by track analysis:

01. NO DOUBT

Re:al Axis kicks off with what is still considered as one of Re:vale‘s songs. NO DOUBT brings to the table washy and dirty synths, a simple bass-drum driven beat and exciting guitar riffs. When listening to this song there’s a contrasting classy, almost regal vibe in the instrumental versus an edgy side that resides in those dirty synths and electric guitar riffs. Synths

The verses are rather well paced, the chorus is addictive – one of the best from this unit -, and the bridge, although slightly off-putting due to its drastic transition, it ends up growing on you with further listens. In the vocal department, Hoshi and Tachibana venture to melodic territory, delivering a rich, catchy performance. 5/5

02. 激情

Re:vale bring us a new song. 激情 (from hereon, Gekijo) brings to the table latin instrumentalization, jazz elements and acoustic rock to create a unique sound that stands out in this release. Contrary to most songs on their repertoire, Gekijo doesn’t rely on synths to impress the listener, that job was instead handed to the stunning guitar work found in this song. From the laidback acoustic guitar riffs to the jazz/blues imbued guitar licks and riffs, the guitar work is outstanding. Bongos help out in the percussion department, adding a danceable and tasteful touch to this song that the mid-tempo drums wouldn’t be able to pull off. A groovy bass line shines in the verses while a sweet piano melody adds the final touches to this great tune.

On the vocal end, Hoshi and Tachibana couldn’t be more in sync. They sound their best since debut. Their harmonies, the consistency in the individual parts and the quality brought to this song left us asking for more. Stellar performance on both ends. 5/5

03. Dis one.

Dis one. was featured on Re:vale’s first single and it introduced – back then – rock in the IDOLiSH7 franchise. This song not only shed a different light over this two man outfit but also showed that the franchise was more than pop idols with bright songs, each group had their individuality. This song put aside the group’s trademark heavy synths-based instrumentals and replaced those with a whole band sound. Splashy drums, reverberating bass lines and ear catching guitar riffs grab the listener’s attention from the get-go. The shredding guitar solo is the highlight in this instrumental. On the vocal end both Hoshi and Tachibana showed that they are comfortable performing rock songs, faring exceptionally well on this song. Today Dis one. is still as exciting and entertaining as when it was released. 5/5

04. 太陽のEsperanza

[As previously reviewed] If the Spanish part of the title wasn’t enough to predict what would await us for this song, as soon as we pressed play, any predictions we had were confirmed as we were presented with an thoroughly addictive latin influenced instrumental. The infectious beat courtesy of congas, timbales and bongos set a laidback danceable pace. At the same time, brass and acoustic guitars added depth to this tune but they are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of instruments featured on this rich instrumental, it’s possible to find more elements and bits part in this piece but to catch on those, you either are trained to distinguish them, or you’ll need several listens to notice them. The warmth associated with the instrumental invites the listener to enjoy it and dance along. On the vocal end, the performances weren’t anything out of extraordinary – this kind of song didn’t require anything like that – with their energy being crucial to make this song sound the real deal. 5/5

05. TO MY DEAREST

TO MY DEAREST is Re:vale’s resident Christmas song. Its slow tempo, inconspicuous jiggles and overall sweet vibe envelop the listener within the first notes. The instrumental isn’t fancy, following the classic Christmas song progression and instrumentalization. Vocally this is the weakest song in this album. Hoshi‘s inconsistencies and Tachibana‘s bland performance took away any entertainment this song could have had. It sure had the potential to be an entertaining tune however it ended up being too bland, even by Christmas songs standards. As it is right now, TO MY DEAREST is the weakest song in this release. 3.5/5

06. 星屑マジック

Hoshikuzu Magic is yet another song well know to Re:vale fans as well as those that actively play IDOLiSH7, as the song was featured as the theme for one of the previous in-game events. The song embraces an acoustic sound that is certainly different from what we’re used from them. Acoustic guitar riffs and strings are the elements leading the way for this tune however, to get the whole classy yet rustic vibe the song exudes it was necessary to bring in a variety of groovy elements to the mix. Funky guitar riffs, dreamy rhodes piano melodies, groovy bass line, strings and bass-driven drums make this instrumental one of the most laidback songs in their repertoire. Guitar work is one again stellar, from the main riffs to the solo, it was always a bright spot in this song.

Hoshi and Tachibana bring to the table falsetto, sweet harmonies and fancy solo parts, all enhancing the song’s delicate and classy vibe. An unexpected song coming from this duo that turned into one of the album’s highlights. 5/5

07. 奇跡

Kiseki turns the energy up with its mix of rock and heavy electronica. This song, already known to fans of the group, is filled with exciting guitar riffs, fast paced, bass-driven drums, a deep bass line and a whole lot of upbeat synths. Its energy is infectious, making this song perfect to perform live. You’ll find yourself singing along to the chorus and hyped up as the song progresses from verses to chorus to the powerful outro.

On the vocal end the duo not only held well their own, but also managed to add more energy to this song with their exciting performance. Another strong performance by this talented duo. 5/5

08. SILVER SKY

The album comes full circle with “SILVER SKY”. High tension synths, fast paced melodies and a danceable beat are the greeting cards for this tune. Perhaps what stands out the most in this song is the iconic piano melody in the intro – that later plays in the background – that is the centerpiece to this instrumental. There’s no way this instrumental won’t hype up the listener with its energy and exciting progressions. Incorporated in the middle of the electrifying instrumental are delicate strings and powerful guitar riffs further enriching the instrumental.

Vocally, this duo showed that they not only fit this kind of upbeat, fast paced electronic songs but also they’re able to deliver equally exciting performances. Although their performance is overall incredibly good, it’s in the bridge that we have the song’s highlight. Everything about it was perfect, the feel, the way the instruments played together as well as the way Hoshi and Tachibana‘s vocals flowed. If there’s a song that defines Re:vale, it’s this one. 5/5

Final rating:

Re:vale are the 3rd group in the IDOLiSH7 franchise to release a full-length album. After the success of the first two, expectations were high for this release. A full listen to this album is enough to confirm that those expectations were met.

Re:al Axis is filled with highlights. NO DOUBT opens this album with an energy and passion that is infectious. Since its release it has stood out as one of the most interesting and well put together songs in their repertoire. At the same time, SILVER SKY wraps up this album neatly. It comes full circle. No matter what changes and different tones or instrumentals you may find in this album, the start and finish are one and the same. It is a nice touch that makes this album feel like a complete body of work.

Taiyou no Esperanza is one of their best songs, a perfect example of the group’s growth in the past few years. The vocals’ quality has vastly improved and even if the instrumental introduced several new things in their repertoire, sounding nothing alike what they’d previously released, it was still a song that sounded theirs right from the very first minute. The listener will be drawn to the danceable melodies and energetic performances just like with any other song of theirs.

One thing that it is noticeable in this album, especially when listening to the new songs, is that Re:vale are now leaning towards an acoustic pop sound instead of the high-throttle electronic-pop/rock that they’ve used us to. This is unexpected yet it is a fantastic transition that is enabling the duo with more opportunities to perform confidently. With the vast improvements in their vocals we can only say that this duo has a bright future ahead. The two new songs, Hoshizuku Magic and Gekijo are positive steps towards the group’s matured sonority.

Gekijo is, in fact, the album’s highlight. The song lends some elements from Taiyou no Esperanza, however it plays around with them in a completely different way. The instrumental was incredibly well crafted and tasteful in its choices of instruments and progressions. Both the instrumental and vocals showed that the duo has improved a whole lot. Hoshi and Tachibana sound their best in this song, perfectly in sync, showcasing a consistency and quality that we hope can be carried over to future releases.

In the opposite side is TO MY DEAREST, song with a Christmas vibe that didn’t quite fit the album, especially when it was stuck right in the middle of two of the best songs in this release, the fiery Taiyou no Esperanza and the acoustic Hoshizuku Magic. The album would have sounded more consistent – in both tone and quality – if this song wasn’t featured. The vocals are weak for the most part and the fact that the instrumental is all Christmas-inspired made it the black sheep in this release.

Re:al Axis is an album that perfectly encompasses Re:vale‘s energy and passion. It’s filled with danceable tunes, exciting pop-rock songs and interesting vocal performances. A powerful release by this talented duo.

Re:al Axis is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

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