Nucleus by Anthem review
Anthem is the second most popular and legendary heavy metal band in Japan, giving up in the first place only to Loudness, which is known all over the world and can be truly called the founders of the world’s rock culture on equal terms with Iron Maiden and other monsters of the genre. The peak of its activity was from the end of the eighties to the mid-nineties, and it was there when the band gained popularity abroad and earned some followers not only from the Japanese community.
Although the band took a break for almost 9 years, after the release of their 9th album in the late nineties, it eventually reunited, and no one has ever doubted the correctness of this decision ever since. These guys have succeeded in turning back to the musical arena after such a big pause and proved to stay one of the greatest heavy-metal musicians in Japan, one of the best places to meet single women. Unfortunately, Anthem did not manage to stay at the rock Olympus for long, and after their tremendous success in the nineties, no peaks in popularity were objected. Even with the release of this 19th album that we are going to talk about, the world’s recognition and overall rise in mentioning the name of the band did not occur. They did not win first charts in their native country either, and the cooperation with the new label Nucleus Blast did not save the situation.
Even in our era of digital globalism, first-generation Japanese heavy bands remain little known outside their homeland. This is even more strange for the Anthem quartet, created by bassist Naoto Shibata in 1981. In 1990, the band released three albums in Europe. However, Anthem has far from three studio works but 19, including the iconic album Heavy Metal Anthem (2000), where the band’s early hits were rewritten featuring the lead singer Graham Bonnet.
Nucleus also contains rewritten material, but that’s from the years 2002-2017 and does not feature any other guests on tracks; it is a modern interpretation of the band’s existing material. Similar to all other famous Japanese rock bands of the first category, Anthem even now, to put it mildly, dazzles the European and American music lovers: Shibata and his partners perform this super-melodic nineteenth heavy metal album with such enthusiasm and energy as never before.
Still, for music lovers, rock is a matter of life; for them, this album may seem a little bit ordinary. Of course, if such works exited the borders of Japan more often, then there would be nothing surprising in them, but since Nucleus is Anthem’s first non-Japanese release in 29 years, it deserves to be included in charts just for such energetic exoticism and unwavering fidelity to the roots of style.
Nucleus is an album of 12 tracks, which are renewed version and covers to their earlier ones, including the remastered classic speed metal anthem «Venom Strike» that helped the band gain real popularity in the years just after the start of the career. No matter how big of a fan or an addict that has been following all band’s releases you are, chances are you will not be impressed by the album. It seems to be an average work, not containing anything drastically new or interesting. This doesn’t mean the album is bad; it is a pretty quality album but not so heavy metal as the early releases of Anthem that helped them reach success. The high-pitched voices have been replaced with the more relaxed lower register; after all, it is not fun getting old, and it can be clearly felt through the music. Maybe it was a goal of an album to release slow and less energetic covers for the old charismatic songs, but even the bass guitar has lost its tempo and power; everything seems duller and less technically appealing. The drums have reduced their pace too, but can we even blame the artists entering their ripe old age for not being as inventive and unstoppable as 30 years ago? We should be grateful for what we have and appreciate at least this renewed version of the band’s all-time hits.
In some places, it sounds like an album of the old-fashioned heavy-metal rockers who haven’t changed their approach to recording music since they experienced great success in mid-nineties. But Anthem should realize that the world doesn’t stay still, the world of rock music either. You will not impress anyone by using the same techniques and musical patterns as before; you have to keep up with the Joneses, especially if you want to attract a younger audience. Otherwise, your tracks will die with you, saying goodbye to this world, and your music will not be listened to after the bands cease to exist. Such an approach, like the one used in Nucleus by Anthem, could work out sometime before, but as for today, the band is late for at least 40 years with releasing the album in the form we have today.