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Articles Home » 2008 Articles » Anthem - 2008 Black Empire
Anthem - 2008 Black Empire

ARTIST: Anthem
ALBUM: Black Empire
LABEL: Victor Japan
YEAR: 2008


LINEUP: Eizo Sakamoto - vocals * Akio Shimizu - guitars * Naoto Shibata - bass * Hiro Homma - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Black Empire * 02 Heat Of The Night * 03 You * 04 Go Insane * 05 Walk Through The Night * 06 Emptiness World * 07 Telling You * 08 Pilgrim * 09 Awake * 10 Perfect Crawler


Japanese metallers Anthem have secured a safe spot here at GD thanks to a brace of impressive albums earlier on in their career. A couple of them are reviewed here for posterity's sake. Having established themselves in their homeland, the band didn't truly break out of their local market, despite releasing many albums with some English language lyrics and outside production help from the likes of Chris Tsangrides. The band went into hiatus during the 90's but reformed in 2001. Since then, Anthem have released a couple of albums, but nothing quite as good as this superb effort I would suggest. This is fantastic 80's styled hard rock, combining fiery guitar, synth runs, and aggressive vocals from original singer Eizo Sakamoto. Joining the best bits of Loudness and Fair Warning, Anthem have come up with a recipe that should have hard rock fans investigating their back catalog with haste!

The Songs
Opener and title track 'Black Empire' could best be described as a Japanese equivalent of German heroes Fair Warning. Eizo Sakamoto does his best Tommy Heart impersonation, the whole thing coming together wonderfully, muscular guitar work from Shimbizu, while the synth touches invoke FW to a tee. The tempo is accelerated on 'Heat Of The Night', this one also has a European feel to it, the guitar solo in particular a tasty bit of six-string brilliance that extends to over a minute! Both 'You' and 'Go Insane' feature some traditional chugga chugga riffs, and are for the most part energetic tracks featuring hard driving drumwork and totally OTT guitar solos. Changing pace altogether is 'Walk Through The Night' dropping into an AOR zone with ease. It's apparent Anthem can walk a number of different musical roads.. they are that talented! More beefy riffs introduce 'Emptiness World', though the track itself is mid-paced and slightly subdued - don't be fooled though, the power is still evident.. just take a listen to the fluid guitar solo! I like the way the band ride the razor with 'Telling You', again Fair Warning is a reference point, but it would be one of many. 'Pilgrim' is probably the most interesting track here, the Yngwie Malmsteen styled neo-classical approach will appeal to many, the fact that it is an instrumental demonstrates the band's chops. Picking up the pace again is 'Awake', an 80's styled flight of fury, Akio Shimizu showing us what a tremendous six-string technician he is. Finishing off with the very Loudness sounding 'Perfect Crawler', Anthem get the thumbs up for another stunner.

In Summary
As we wind down the 2008 year, Anthem come along and tip the scales upside down with this incredible hard rocking album. Very much in the 80's mould, this is so much better than anything they've ever done, and that in itself says something, as many of their albums are pretty good! As we all know, 2008 has been a pretty good year for melodic hard rock, do not discount Anthem in the reckoning for being part of your Top 10 List for the year. Yes, 'Black Empire' is that good.

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#1 | gdazegod on January 05 2009 22:16:43
That guitar solo in 'Heat Of The Night' is awesome!
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