Anthem – Hunting Time – 5/5
Five Metal Classics you’ve never heard of: Number Two
Amidst the cries of the big Japanese bands, ‘Loudness’ and ‘Galneryus’ given plenty of mention these days, it is perhaps surprising that nobody seems to mention Anthem. Formed around a similar time, and frequently sharing members with ‘Loudness,’ what separates them is the speed; like an early ‘Blind Guardian’ the furious drumming and impeccable production leaving a thick and heavy tone retaining all the melody that their name would allude to whilst still capable of belting out head banging riffs with the best. Accept might be as fast as shark but even they’d have a hard time matching up to the full blown stampede on display here.
Picking apart flaws in this line-up is made incredibly difficult by the fact everyone knows their place; the drums roar furiously in the production, raw and energetically setting the quick pace for the rest of the band to match; the bass punching through to set the rhythm like he has something to prove, and the combination of these two allow for a great deal of versatility in the focal points. Despite the vocals being sung almost entirely in their native Japanese tongue, they are the only real giveaway of their origins and yet impressively they fail diminish the memorability of the passionate mid ranged sing-a-long melodies as he dramatically soars authoritatively.
Yet what makes this artist stand from the other leagues of excellence is the masterwork from the phantom guitarist, leaving the band shortly after completing this release (for photography due to a hearing condition sadly) never to play guitar professionally again. An unrelenting display off riffs playing against the bass guitar, he is one of the fewer Japanese guitarist not to simply submit to the over neo-classical shredding, capable of creating incredibly powerful melodies combining speed with style, perhaps more akin to ‘Schenker’ than many other virtuoso guitarists.
With only eight tracks clocking in at a meager 37 minutes you could argue for it being a little too short, but that’s simply because there’s no fat. Everything’s been trimmed to provide an unrelenting assault of Heavy Metal bliss, but what impresses me perhaps the most about this band is not just that they seem to have gone by unnoticed, but that they have done so for over two decades. Releasing ‘Black Empire’ just last year, the production’s improved but the music is just as impressive; insane solo’s and soaring ‘Kursch’s-Lost-Japanese-Twin’ vocals galore, showing a evolution of their sound. They may not be breaking any conventions here, but when the musics this good why change?