exist†trace is an all-female Japanese visual kei band formed in Tokyo in 2003. They are Jyou (vocals), miko (guitar/vocals), Omi (guitar), Naoto (bass), and Mally (drums). exist†trace began with a darker visual kei style similar to bands like DEATHGAZE but evolved into a melodic rock-oriented style similar to bands like D’espairsRay, girugamesh, etc. In 2013, exist†trace introduced a dual-vocal style with guitarist (and primary songwriter) miko complimenting Jyou’s main vocals.

Selected discography:

Recreation eve (2008). 11 tracks. A collection of tracks from exist†trace‘s early singles (2006-08) and their 1st mini-album Annunciation -the heretic elegy- (2006). Includes a new version of the song “JUDEA” (originally from their 2006 single funeral bouquet) and a new song “reprologue”.

VANGUARD -of the muses- (2009). Mini-album. 6 tracks. Choice cuts: “ROGUE”, “VANGUARD”. Other good cuts: “Requiem”, “Hana no Sakanai Machi”, “Orléans no Shoujo”, “Lost in Helix”.

Ambivalent Symphony (2009). Mini-album. 7 tracks. Choice cuts: “RESONANCE”, “Owari no Nai Sekai”. Other good cuts: “Ambivalence”, “Wrath”, “Umi no Shizuku”, “forward”. The rest: “-overture- “.

TWIN GATE (2010). 10 tracks. Choice (new) cuts: “KNIFE”, “Neverland”. Other good (new) cuts: “unforgive you”, “Cradle”, “Blaze”, “DECIDE”. Includes “VANGUARD” and “Orléans no Shoujo” (from VANGUARD -of the muses-) and “RESONANCE” and “Owari no Nai Sekai” (from Ambivalent Symphony).

TRUE (2011). Mini-album. 5 tracks. Choice cuts: “TRUE”, “KISS IN THE DARK”. Other good cuts: “Honnou”, “Tokoyami no Yoake”, “Jiyuu no Sora, Chijou no Uta”.

THE LAST DAYBREAK (2011). Mini-album. 5 tracks. Choice cuts: “Daybreak ~13-gatsu no Shikisai~”, “I feel you”. Other good cuts: “be Naked”, “Kimi no Masshiro na Hane”, “Little Mary to Utsukushiki Nikushimi no Donau”.

VIRGIN (2012). 13 tracks. Choice (new) cuts: “WONDERLAND”, “HONEY”, “SORA”. Other good (new) cuts: “Keiyaku”, “GINGER”, “Signal”, “Anata”, “Futatsu no Koe”. Includes “TRUE” and “KISS IN THE DARK” (from TRUE) and “Daybreak ~13-gatsu no Shikisai~”, “I feel you” and “Little Mary to Utsukushiki Nikushimi no Donau” (from THE LAST DAYBREAK).

WORLD MAKER (2014). 12 tracks. Choice cuts: “WORLD MAKER”, “Diamond”. Other good cuts: “RAZE”, “Imagination”, “Nagai Yume no Owari ni”, “Kuchibiru”, “VOICE”, “Spiral Daisakusen”, “Antique Doll”, “JUST ONE”, “SHOOTING STAR”.

THIS IS NOW (2016). Mini-album. 6 tracks. Choice cuts: “DREAM RIDER”, “Shout Out”. Other good cuts: “THIS IS NOW”, “BLAST”, “TWIN WINGS”, “Neo-Japanese Heroine”.

Selected videos:

Artist links: website/Facebook/Twitter/Youtube/Generasia

My thoughts… I was a big fan of visual kei back when I was crazy into Japanese rock music. Visual kei is a male-dominated sub-genre “characterized by the use of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes” often combined with an androgynous look. I loved the music but I never understood the allure of men looking like women. I didn’t get it with Western hair metal either. So I was super excited when an all-female visual kei band hit the scene! Sure, Jyou flirts with androgyny by dressing in a masculine style but it’s hard to hide those lovely curves! Check out Jyou embracing her femininity in this awesome live performance of “KISS IN THE DARK” here …

Jyou is a beautiful woman – with an amazing voice. miko, Omi, Naoto, and Mally are beautiful women, too. However, I wouldn’t still be a big fan of exist†trace if I didn’t love their music more than their looks. The truth is, though, that if they hadn’t changed their sound, basically, from death metal to alternative rock, I wouldn’t be posting about them – once again! The change was drastic but it allowed exist†trace to build a bigger fan base and to continually evolve by mixing metal, industrial, pop, and jazz influences into a more accessible rock sound; and, in 2016, exist†trace‘s music is a natural progression of what they, in 2009, redefined it as. “KNIFE” is, arguably, the band’s best track recorded between 2009 and 2012 [my favorite period!], while “Shout Out” is one of their best recorded after 2012. “Shout Out”, with its RATT-esque riffs and insanely addictive chorus, is an awesome meeting of East (visual kei) and West (hair metal)! In fact, THIS IS NOW is a fantastic release all round! WORLD MAKER was great but THIS IS NOW rocks!

Read my original post on RCR (here).