• ''Nearly falling into the Fountain of Youth'' - A review of Anthem's ''Absolute World''

    Anthem - Absolute World (2014)

    Anthem is one of Japan's pioneering heavy metal bands but if compared to Loudness and the likes, the band never had any significant international success despite its longevity apart of a longer break in the nineties when this type of music was declining in popularity anyway. The reasons have always been the same and this issue is still present on the band's sixteenth full length release. Anthem is a diversified and energizing band that plays with conviction and passion but the band fails to have its own style or any truly memorable compositions. ''Absolute World'' is an entertaining fun ride and incredibly addicting while it lasts but as soon as you put the record aside, you won't remember one single song.

    Still, the band's most recent output is actually one of its stronger releases. The uplifting and catchy opener ''Shine On'' kicks the record off in a surprising way. This is not your expected conservative heavy metal opener but a vivid power metal anthem that invites the listener to sing along and raise his fists in the air. It's a positive signal that the band has chosen such a refreshing song not only as opener but also as single from this album. There are many other moments on this record where the band proves its new creativity, diversity and energy. The suitably entitled ''Destroy the Boredom'' is one of the band's heavier tunes with a few minimal hints at thrash metal that recall Judas Priest of the late eighties and early nineties. ''Love of Hell' is a harmonious power ballad that isn't cheesy for one second but honest to the core and therefor quite convincing. It's definitely a song that sticks out immediately. ''Sailing'' has a slightly darker vibe with vibrant bass sounds, lower vocals and a series of outstanding guitar solos. The more I listen to this tune, the better it gets. The album even includes an instrumental tune called ''Absolute Figure'' and while I'm usually not a big fan of instrumental tracks, this one is really outstanding because the great musicians really have the chance to shine here without neglecting a logical structure and series of events. This song even includes some additional keyboard sounds that give this song a slightly mysterious atmosphere.

    Even though the last few tunes at the end of the record are less spectacular, Anthem overall delivers one of its most inspired studio records ever. The sympathetic quartet convinces with a high degree of diversity, some juvenile energy and a technically appealing musicianship where especially Akio Shimizu's guitar play really stands out. Fans of traditional heavy metal with some newfound creativity and oomph should definitely check this record out. For those who want to get to know more about the origins of these underrated Japanese legends, I can recommend the stunning ''30th Anniversary Of Nexus Years Limited Collector's Box'' featuring seven studio records, one disc with bonus material, a live disc and an additional DVD bundled in a box set limited to two thousand copies in the world that might be slightly expensive but which is something like the holy grail of Japanese heavy metal.

    Final verdict: 79%

    « ''You always sing the same'' - A review of Jorn's ''Heavy Rock Radio''''Not the best idea to honor a legend'' - A review of Motörhead's ''Clean Your Clock'' »
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