Review 1688 : Anthem – Crimson & Jet Black – English

Anthem, Japanese Heavy Metal pioneer, is back.

Created in 1981, the band released seven albums before taking a break from 1992 to 2000, and then continuing its adventure by integrating Power Metal elements. In 2023, the band composed of Naoto Shibata (bass, ex-Loudness, ex-Saber Tiger), Yukio Morikawa (vocals), Akio Shimizu (guitar) and Isamu Tamaru (drums) announced its signature with Reaper Entertainment, as well as the release of Crimson & Jet Black, their twentieth album, sung again in English.

Snake Eyes, the first track, is immediately very energetic, drawing from the Heavy/Power roots to build solid riffs. Vocals remain under control, sometimes using more lively elements before heady choruses, or like on Wheels Of Fire, whose introduction also offers some Thrash influences. The jerky leads are still extremely effective to give the song some rhythm, becoming softer on the melancholic choruses before coming back to raw energy, leading us to Howling Days, a track on which we can hear some keyboards. Although the introduction is slightly softer, don’t be fooled as the band wastes no time in reinforcing their riffs and vocal parts, before letting Roaring Vortex, a haunting but also darker composition, mesmerize us with groovy sounds approaching some Power Ballad. Blood Brothers will reconnect with a federating energy with Hard Rock roots the band will perfectly know how to exploit to dynamize its live performances while placing worked and Old School solos, letting the rhythm section hold the song’s basis, then Master of Disaster will reveal worrying tonalities while remaining in this energetic and driving approach, completed by some choruses. The album continues with the mysterious Void Ark, an instrumental composition giving guitar a very important place, allowing it dissonance and heady melodies, then with Faster, a track revealing some epic ambient sounds to complete a catchy rhythmic before leading us to Burn Down The Wall and its sustained tempo. Leads develop sharp melodies again to accompany a solid rhythmic, then Mystic Echoes will follow with majestic elements, strengthening an accessible rhythmic by adding that melodic soaring touch, before giving way to Danger Flight, the last composition, which brings that solid heavy touch and catchy tones together, while emphasizing motivating and powerful vocals as well as crazy and explosive leads.

With this new album, Anthem confirms their reputation while continuing to unveil their new chapter in their career, and their international ambition. Crimson & Jet Black will undoubtedly be the anthem which will carry them even further in the Heavy Metal landscape.


Version Française ?

Few questions to Naoto Shibata, bass player and founding member of Anthem.

Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Anthem without using the usual Metal “labels”?
Naoto Shibata (bass): Hi, how are you everybody? I’m Naoto Shibata. I’m a bassist from the Japanese Rock band Anthem. I’m also a leader of the band and a main songwriter. Anthem has had a long career since 1985 and we’re still playing with the faith. Our new album Crimson & Jet Black will be internationally released on April 21st.

Do you remember where the band’s name comes from, and how it matches the sound you play?
Naoto: When we started the band, we didn’t have a name for a few months. One day we were supposed to play a concert and needed a name for that, and I chose the word « Anthem » thinking that we’d like to become a symbol of Rock music some day.

Crimson & Jet Black, your new album, is about to come out. How do you feel about it? Do you already have some feedback?
Naoto: We’re honored that we will release Crimson & Jet Black world-widely. Our music has a lot of elements but this time metal and heaviness are emphasized. The album is filled with straight and strong songs. This is Power Metal. This is Anthem. The reactions towards the first two singles, Wheels of Fire and Snake Eyes have been really great!

How would you sum Crimson & Jet Black up in only three words?
Naoto: Strong, Stately, Dangerous.

How did you deal with the composition process for this album? As you now use the English language, did you notice some changes? Why did you decide to sing in English now?
Naoto: We started writing the material for the album around summer of 2020, but due to the pandemic, we couldn’t do a lot this year. We had to cancel all the tours planned and it wasn’t easy to keep the motivation. But we didn’t want to just wait, which wasn’t Anthem‘s style, and we decided to take our time to concentrate on writing the songs. And then we started recording the album, but as we didn’t want a half-baked album, we had to stop it twice to re-write and add the songs. I can say the album was planned for a few years beforehand. As we knew it’d be internationally released, it was a natural choice to sing in English. Yes, the lyrics are in English, but it didn’t affect my song writing process or Anthem‘s music in any way.

Once again, the band explores the whole Heavy Metal spectrum, picking from energetic Power/Thrash to more smooth Hard Rock, what does inspire you to create your universe?
Naoto: From my childhood to my early 20s, I was exposed to any music from Enka, Pop music, Blues Jazz or whatever. I can safely say I have been interested in anything that is groovy and has clear melodies. One day I realized Rock music had everything I was looking for. My musical background was created during this era for sure. Unfortunately today’s trendy music all sounds the same to me and they are rarely attractive to me.

Which song was the hardest one to create for the band? Or maybe the one you worked the most on?
Naoto: Roaring Vortex. When I was writing this song, each part had various expressions in my head. We had to re-record bass and drums by changing tempo and arrangement to make it closer to the image I had.

Maybe you have a favorite song on this album? Or the one you just can’t wait to play on stage?
Naoto: Of course all the songs. But if I have to pick up some, maybe Snake Eyes, Wheels of Fire, Howling Days, Roaring Vortex and Void Ark. We’ll start touring Japan this May and we’ll play the album in its entirety at 3 shows. I cannot wait!

Do you already have some plans for the band’s future?
Naoto: The album will be out on April 21st, so I am not sure if we can play at the summer festivals. It’ll be great if we can play at the festivals from all over the world next year. God only knows.

What can you tell me about the evolution of the Metal scene around you?
Naoto: Here in Japan, I don’t think there’s Metal bands that has been constantly playing except us and Loudness. Somehow these days a lot of all-female bands are popping out of nowhere. Of course it isn’t a bad thing, but an audience that welcomes any all-female bands regardless of the music quality makes me sick though, haha. I guess record labels are sensitive about the trends behind it. Anyway trends will come and go.

Do you think you still improve yourselves as musicians?
Naoto: Of course. It isn’t easy to create something out of nothing, but nothing else gives me pleasure like that. I never doubt that both I and the band can keep moving forward.

What are your best and your worst experiences as a musician ever?
Naoto: Our long musical career itself is the best experience. The worst is that I was totally sick of the Japanese music scene and decided to stop playing in the early 90s.

What do you know about the French Metal scene? Which French bands do you know and like?
Naoto: I know Manigance and Heavenly. I like them. And I believe Gojira has just come down to Japan.

With which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour (or just a single show) with Anthem and three other bands!
Naoto: Nightwish, Thunder and The Rasmus. They are always great.

That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Naoto: My pleasure! It was very interesting. Listen to our new album Crimson & Jet Black. I’m sure our metal soul will blow you away! I cannot wait to play for the French metalheads!

Laisser un commentaire