Back on 1995 I got in my hands the first issue of a fanzine called Metal Invader, it was printed in Athens and had some interesting subjects, articles and interviews inside it, as well as many unknown for me band names. Metalucifer was one of them and as I was fond from their music, immediately I started looking for more bands from Japan. It seems that after I bought my first Loudness album, I knew that Japan will be always a place where Heavy Metal can grow and blossom. Still I had a lot to learn…Anthem and Earthshaker was the ones that soon enriched my discotheque, while “Bound to Break” was always one of my favorites probably next to Loudness’ “The Law Of Devil’s Land”.
Anthem (アンセム, Ansemu) was founded in Tokyo during 1980 as a quartet, composed of singer Toshihito Maeda, guitarist Akifumi Koyanagi, bass player Naoto Shibata (also known as “Ski”) and drummer Takamasa Ohuchi. Koyanagi left in late 1983 to be replaced by Hiroya Fukuda. In December 1984, vocalist Toshihito Maeda also left and Anthem drafted Eizo Sakamoto for their debut eponymous album, issued in July 1985. The band in 1987 had already released two studio albums. The 1985’s “Anthem” and the 1986’s “Tightrope” that showed to everyone that they were a full of talent and potential band that needed a small extra help to make it big times. With the help of legendary engineer, producer and songwriter Chris Tsangarides, Anthem finally made this huge big step forward.
The album starts with a fast rocker, “Bound To Break” that shows the band’s character from the very beginning, catchy, commercial and danceable tunes made for live stages. “Empty Eyes” continue this Judas Priest-like guitars-driven songs, with melodic vocals that makes you bang your head and shake your ass! The album features Eizo Sakamoto on vocals and this is by far his most impressive vocal performance ever. “Show Must Go On!” is a classic anthem with groovy guitars, memorable lyrics, mid pace tempo and danceable rhythmic vibe. It would definitely fit in any Priest album from 1981 to 1988 and it was co-written by Chris Tsangarides. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor” is a bit faster with dominating bass guitar and great solos. “Soldiers” is another gem and one of the best songs of the album, up-tempo with excellent main riff, marvelous singing and well-built bridge before the simplistic chorus.
B’ side starts with the majestic intro of “Limited Lights” and then “Machine Made Dog” this astonishing Accept-like hymn starts. The song is a genuine addictive head banger that has a tight rhythm section, mid tempo pace and a Sakamoto makes you sing along with him with your fist in the air. “No More Night” is another great song with nice guitars and speedy rhythm. The album closes with two of my favorite songs and probably the strongest moments of it. “Headstrong” has all the mentality and the vibe of the 80’s. It might bring you in mind Scorpions, -once again- Priest and Accept with its passionate sound and the high energy it spurts. Last but not least, the breathtaking “Fire ‘n’ The Sword”. The captivating singing of Sakamoto (snappy bridges and hooks like these ones I thought that it could be written only by mammoths like Paul Stanley or Desmond Child…but it seems that Shibata had this talent too, with the helping hand of Tsangarides of course), the remarkable riffs and the galloping rhythm that you just can’t get out of your head are all here to create one of the coolest anthems of the 80’s.
The whole album in its entirety reflects the huge influence of Tsangarides that built the compositions wisely with natural flow and consistent focus on strong vocal lines atop inspired rhythm sections of drummer Takamasa ‘Mad’ Ohuchi and bassist and main songwriter Naoto Shibata, upon which Hiroya Fukuda built his riffs. You can only buy it whenever you jump on it in a small local record store in the city or town you live or via e-stores worldwide…you are just a click away…