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Anthem - 2012 Burning Oath

ARTIST: Anthem
ALBUM: Burning Oath
LABEL: Thunderball 667
YEAR: 2012


LINEUP: Eizo Sakamoto - vocals * Akio Shimuzu - guitar * Naoto Shibata - bass * Hirotsugu Homma - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Evil One * 02 Unbroken Sign * 03 Overture * 04 On And On * 05 Get Away * 06 Struggle Action * 07 Ghost In The Flame * 08 Double Helix * 09 Face The Core * 10 Life And Crime * 11 Dance Alone


Still going strong are Japanese veterans Anthem, always prolific at the best of times, with this album following 2011's 'Heraldic Device' release. That one must have really gone unpublicized as I had no idea of its existence until researching this latest album. Nevertheless the bands stability remains surprisingly strong, with the above lineup having now stayed together since 2001, with seven studio albums in that period. Not bad considering the tepid output by most metal bands these days. Having original vocalist Sakamoto and bassist Shibata is a major plus too. Musically Anthem has retained their familiar style of fast melodic metal - no surprises there I'd suggest! But is it as essential as their landmark 80's material? Perhaps not..

The Songs
That's not to say this isn't quality heavy metal, in fact it's superior to most veteran acts, with the band staying true to their original sound, no mean feat in this day and age. At their heaviest the band is unstoppable, especially the rampaging 'Struggle Action', the title of which makes little sense, but that's par for the course with Anthem (remember 'Warning Action!' from the 1985 debut?). The riffs have a savage quality and the speed recalls some of the glorious material from 1990's 'No Smoke Without Fire', still their best moment in my book. 'Evil One' is all you want from an opening track, tons of energy and the usual Japanese spoken verses giving this a familiar feel. The power metal overtones of 'Unbroken Sign' aren't quite to my tastes, especially the symphonic elements, which are also heard on brief instrumental 'Overture'. The synths of 'On And On' are more commendable, this one very melodic and steeped in the late 80's. 'Ghost In The Flame' is an epic plod at nearly eight minutes and can be skipped without much fuss. The fantastically titled 'Double Helix' is metal overload however, another instrumental, this one moving at speed metal levels and a showcase for Shimuzu's brilliant playing. This lays waste to bums like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and all the fading, waning legends whom people still believe to make classic metal. 'Life And Crime' though is an unbelievable rip off of Megadeth's 'Symphony Of Destruction', with the riff a total copy of Dave Mustaine's 1992 composition. I don't know what they were thinking here. It overshadows the song as a whole and is best left unheard. 'Dance Alone' isn't exactly a great ending either, more half baked power metal which can best be compared to Helloween I suppose, a tired reference point by anyone's estimation.

In Summary
Aside from the glaring weak points this is another strong showing from Anthem. There are no surprises and at this stage of their career that's more than welcome. It never attains the heights of their best work, sitting somewhere in the middle of their long discography. For metal stalwarts it's more than worth a listen, some of these tracks are guaranteed to get a few headbangs out of you for sure.

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