ANTHEM are a Japanese Metal band formed in 1985 that's still going strong -and their […]
By Rachel Montgomery
May 16, 2019
Anthem - Nucleus album cover

ANTHEM are a Japanese Metal band formed in 1985 that's still going strong -and their latest album is proof that they are. "Nucleus" is a powerhouse of a record that combines the best of speed and classic sounds with melodic and technical elements. While it's not as stellar in the middle, the opening and closing tracks cinch it as a strong, great work. Their opening track, "Immortal Bind," starts off heavy. Then we're met with clear instrumentals, soaring operatic vocals, and wonderful backup. The chaotic, fast guitar solo brings it all together for a wonderful opener.

"Black Empire" continues the wonderful ambiance and sound and adds more thematic elements. It carries the soaring chorus elements from the last song and makes it fast and pumped. While "Overload" continues the fast, melodic aesthetic of the first two songs, it tones it down. Even though I feel like this was done to add more variety to the album, the change was underwhelming. Although "Stranger" picked the speed back up from the get-go (it is one of the heavier songs on the album), the treble-hefty melody could get a little hokey in places.

I think "Linkage" and "Eternal Warrior" are the weak links in the album. I enjoyed the "revving up" ambiance leading into a Classic Metal sound in "Linkage", but other than that, it's not a standout song compared to the rest of the album. "Eternal Warrior" starts fast, but the shows-topping melodies and ambiance that were there at the beginning of the track wane as it goes on. "Ghost in the Flame" is the first "slow song" (and by slow, I mean slower than the rest of the album). I wish the variation in speed would've come sooner in the album. As is, it's a good song where they utilize Morikawa's voice incredibly well. I especially enjoyed the outro, particularly the variation in guitar riffs.

"Venom Strike" brings back the heaviness. It's a solid song with great elements that go thematically with the title. The song harkens back to a classic sound while making it their own; sort of an east-meets-west combination of classic Western Metal and J-Metal that works spectacularly. "Awake" continues the classic style with Power Metal elements in the chorus. However, it is overshadowed by the final four songs on the album; all of which harken back to the (very strong) first 2 tracks.

"Omega Man" combines a Power Metal intro and climbing riffs with an interesting synthesized melody. The instrumentals progress into faster and faster riffs, climaxing with sweeps at the end. "Pain" brings the album full-circle by channeling the sound of the opening tracks with soaring vocals and melodies, but "Echoes in the Dark" blends a slower, menacing intro, changing into the album's overall sound. The final track, "Unknown Sign" is also a call back to the beginning of the album, but the hopeful message and melody makes it a solid closer that's a powerful finish. Overall, the album begins and ends strongly. It combines classic Speed and Power Metal with J-Metal's more synthesized elements into a great, enjoyable combination.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect








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"Nucleus" Track-listing:

1. Immortal Bind
2. Black Empire
3. Overload
4. Stranger
5. Linkage
6. Eternal Warrior
7. Ghost in the Flame
8. Venom Strike
9. Awake
10. Omega Man
11. Pain
12. Echoes in the Dark
13. Unknown Sign

Anthem Lineup:

Yukio Morikawa - Vocals
Akio Shimizu - Guitars
Naoto Shibata - Bass
Isamu Tamaru - Drums

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