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Articles Home » 1990 Articles » Anthem - 1990 No Smoke Without Fire
Anthem - 1990 No Smoke Without Fire

ARTIST: Anthem
ALBUM: No Smoke Without Fire
LABEL: Music For Nations, King (Japan)
YEAR: 1990


LINEUP: Yuko Morikawa - vocals * Hiroya Fukada - guitars * Naoto Shibata - bass * Takamasa Ohuchi - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Shadow Walk * 02 Hungry Soul * 03 Blinded Pain * 04 Do You Understand * 05 Love On The Edge * 06 Voice of Thunderstorm * 07 Power And Blood * 08 Fever Eyes * 09 The Night We Stand

With a catalogue of classic album after classic album, deciding which one to review from this legendary Japanese metal act was no easy task. This was the bands sixth studio album after debuting in 1985 with their raw but amazingly heavy sound, which was perfected on a string of albums which to these ears blow away anything from Loudness from those years onwards. Original vocalist Eizo Sakamoto had been replaced after 1987's 'Bound To Break', but it did little to stop the momentum of Anthem, who were superstars in their native Japan, but considered a curiousity elsewhere, with the verses sung in their native tongue, and the choruses in English. By 1990 the band was at the top of their game, and this is reflected with this unbeatable album, packed with speed, breakneck riffs and more melody than some of the supposed Heavy Metal greats.

The Songs
All the Anthem albums to this point had been furious forays into near speed metal, with tremendous guitar work and vocals. 'Shadow Walk' opens with some crunching riffs and an instant hook, all while moving at pace. This is true heavy metal, with no pandering to anything else whatsoever. Not letting up is 'Hungry Soul', one of the most melodic pieces of metal you will ever hear. Melody is on an AOR level, while retaining the heaviness naturally. On reflection it's amazing how much of a joke Iron Maiden and Saxon were compared to this in 1990. By comparison they seem dated and bar room level. 'Blinded Pain' is another melodic rocker, dripping with keyboards and epic guitar work, with really no competition. The faster side of Anthem rears itself on the wild 'Do You Understand', complete with thrash style riffs and drumming and a bass solo to boot. The keyboards appear in force again as 'Love on the Edge' thrusts another major chorus into the ears of anyone clever enough to have heard this. This relentless pattern continues with another speed metal gem, 'Voice Of Thunderstorm', riffs shredding like nobody's business. There's no way you can stop your head from banging to this. The tour de force must be 'Power And Blood'. Why? Check out those synth touches at the .28 mark! The chorus is all AOR and this is the band living up to their name. You can't go wrong with this track. Another fast song, 'Fever Eyes', makes more waves before another mid paced hard rocker closes things out, complete with a Whitesnake inspired breakdown, ala 'Still Of The Night', at the halfway point. There are shades of Graham Bonnet era Rainbow and MSG found here too, suitable as he later recorded an album with Anthem in 2000.

In Summary
Nothing but perfection. Amazingly the band remained unruffled by the piss poor grunge movement and recorded another superb album, 'Domestic Booty', in 1992. The band split for some time but reformed in 2000 with Bonnet, before resuming with original vocalist Sakamoto. Anthem have since gone on to record a series of studio albums, one of which, 2002's 'Overload' I heard, which didn't exactly capture the energy of the 1985-92 years. When investigating Anthem's back catalogue you cannot go wrong with any of their output from these years. The production of 'No Smoke Without Fire' is a cut above and the overall brilliance of the music makes this one of the best of 1990. These guys looked metal and most importantly sounded metal, with a consistent excitement which has rarely been duplicated.

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#1 | gdazegod on August 30 2008 23:47:15
Classic stuff indeed!
#2 | gdazegod on December 31 2010 07:32:53
Expect to see more Anthem reviews in the future..
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