Anthem, Crimson & Jet Black Review
by John Gaddis
Japan’s heavy metal titans, Anthem, have seized the pandemic’s stillness to forge their latest sonic onslaught, Crimson & Jet Black. Featuring English lyrics sung with power and precision and outstanding guitar work, the album promises to impress any heavy metal fan. Initially slated for a Spring 2022 completion, band mastermind Naoto Shibata’s relentless pursuit of perfection drove him to elevate the tracks’ intensity, delaying the recording’s scheduled release. As the album’s architect, Shibata collaborates with esteemed Swedish producer Jens Bogren, renowned for his work with metal juggernauts such as Arch Enemy, Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir, and Opeth. Bogren, who previously mixed and mastered “Nucleus,” returns to lend his expertise as co-producer, ensuring Crimson & Jet Black shows that Anthem still has their fingers on the pulse of edgy heavy metal.
“Snake Eyes” starts the album with an explosive opening track showcasing Anthem’s impressive musical prowess. Guitarist Akio Shimizu dazzles with his lightning-fast fretwork, delivering an onslaught of riffs and licks that leave the listener reeling. Meanwhile, bassist Naoto Shibata and drummer Isamu Tamaru provide the driving rhythm section that gives the music its raw, aggressive edge. Next, Frontman Yukio Morikawa takes center stage, wielding his powerful vocals with precision and intensity. With clear diction, a wide range, and varying vibrato speeds, Morikawa is a masterful vocalist, effortlessly shifting between aggressive and robust tones.
As the album progresses, Yukio Morikawa’s vocal range and versatility come to the fore on the standout track “Wheels of Fire.” The production style of the 80s vocals is prominent, with Morikawa’s vocals out-front and focused. His tone is robust and matches the aggression of the guitars, conveying a sense of energy and passion that drives the music forward. Meanwhile, guitarist Akio Shimizu’s solo on the track showcases his melodic power, employing techniques like tapping and sweep picking to take the music to new heights. Together, Morikawa and Shimizu create a dynamic and powerful sound that solidifies “Wheels of Fire” as a must-have track from the album.
In conclusion, Anthem’s latest offering, Crimson & Jet Black, is a testament to the band’s enduring power and influence in the heavy metal genre. With standout tracks like ‘Snake Eyes,’ ‘Wheels Of Fire,’ and ‘Howling Days,’ the album is a must-have for power/heavy metal fans old and new alike. Vocalist Yukio Morikawa’s outstanding singing and versatile range are among the album’s many highlights, featuring impressive guitar work from Akio Shimizu.
With its hard-hitting sound and impressive musicianship, Crimson & Jet Black will surely please metalheads everywhere and cement Anthem’s place as one of the genre’s greats with this exhilarating album!