Review: Anthem “Domestic Booty” [Nexus]

Review: Anthem “Domestic Booty” [Nexus]

- in Reviews
Score 60%
Summary
Plausible, if hardly impressive
60 %
User Rating : 4.2 (1 votes)
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When band members leave and get replaced, it’s often a question whether the shoes aren’t too big to fill. In Anthem’s case, this wasn’t an issue once vocalist Yukio Morikawa replaced Eizo Sakamoto – but once guitarist Hiroyka Fukuda left and new guitarist Akio Shimizu took over his role, things started to change for the worst. Make no mistake, Anthem still has their hearts in the right place here, yet their execution isn’t quite on par when compared to their earlier works.

Anthem often had a thing for serious knock out openers, yet it quickly becomes clear that “Venom Strike” isn’t one of them. First of all, the riffs feel far less spectacular and captivating here. Originality aside (Anthem certainly wrote some referential numbers earlier on) – here the speedy riffs sound as if they’re played by a certain newcomer who could have studied the techniques of Fukuda perhaps a bit more, even if Akio Shimizu still presents a decent flashy solo at least. The drums, too, sound rather squashy (perhaps even most bizarre is how they’re fine on the other tracks) and become annoying quickly. On a positive note Yukio Morikwawa still sounds passionate here and does a great job at spitting fire with his rough-throated belting. There’s also a notable sense of catchier choruses popping up, mainly present on “Renegade” and “Cry in the Night” that see Yukio Morikwawa shine – I just wish I could say the same about Akio Shimizu, is a capable lead guitarist, but whose riffs lack some serious oomph.

There’s also some unexpected material popping up, as “Gold & Diamonds” and “The Dice of No Mercy” present something new for the band. The former brings to mind Gamma Ray and just like them, Anthem seemed to hint ”we’ve listened to Judas Priest, but struggle to write something worthy inspired by them!” – as their mediocre execution clearly shows: I’m fond of the cutting main riff the number possesses, it doesn’t connect with any other riff, making it a serious missed opportunity. “The Dice of No Mercy” sounds a bit meaner and venomous than usual and while it’s slightly overlong, it at least sees Anthem break out of their comfort zone, as the track reminds me quite a bit of the heavier direction Loudness took during the same year. Granted, I can’t fault Domestic Booty for lacking variety, yet there’s little to keep me paying attention as the album progresses onward – hitting rock bottom by the time “Heavy Duty” starts. Seriously, this sounds surprisingly awful; an annoying Accept-gone-wrong rocker that’s devoid of any classy riffs and even Yukio Morikawa’s vocal lines become silly here – every time I hear that dumb chorus I wonder what the hell has happened to Anthem at this point.

Ending the album on a decent note, I can’t help but think that “Silent Cross” shares a few things with Black Sabbath once Tony Martin were fronting the band. Opening up with some bluesy crunch of a riff and gloomy key lines Geoff Nicholls might have summoned during Tyr, it’s a surprisingly breath of fresh air. Yukio Morikawa sounds at his most heartfelt here and with a passionate chorus to boot, it’s a solid, if unexpected album closer. Still, I can’t help but find it bizarre how Anthem had become better at sounding like Black Sabbath than themselves at this point… but so be it.

Overall, Domestic Booty would mark the end of Anthem’s glory days for me, making it the worst album since the band’s debut. As unfortunate as it is, all good things must come to an end, right?

Release date: March 16th, 1992

www.heavymetalanthem.com

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