SummaryBetween East and West
|4 (1 votes):|
Between the mediocre debut and Anthem‘s final record that would feature Eizo Sakamoto for a while, this band would keep getting better and better, as Bound to Break is yet another superior offering when compared to its predecessor. The production sounds cleaned up, Eizo Sakamoto delivers his finest vocal performance up to this point and most importantly: the band’s identity really starts to shine here.
The usual blend of speed and hooks is still present, yet as far as speed metal tracks are concerned, Bound to Break has more in common with the sophisticated Hunting Time than the intimidating Tightrope. The title track immediately highlights Hiroya Fukuda’s advanced guitar chops and the result isn’t so much of a raw take on speed metal, but rather something personal that only he could have come up with. Its chorus is obviously simplistic, but that doesn’t stop Eizo Sakamoto from delivering a passionate vocal performance… and who could forget those fun gang-shouts? “Empty Eyes” is another banger and with such no-nonsense riffs dominating everything, it would be easily to assume that Hiroya Fukuda overshadows everyone else here, but nothing could be further from truth. Between the sharp guitar riffs and the engaged bass lines, you end up with slightly elaborated chorus that allows Eizo Sakamoto to prove himself for the best here. Besides the intense speed metal cuts, you’ll also stumble upon some rockier and mid-paced numbers that are somewhat reminiscent of follow-up Gypsy Ways. “Show Must Go On!” is surprisingly vocal-oriented, although it’s somewhat lackluster, while the addictive grooves of “Headstrong” are undeniably Accept-influenced. Indeed, from a stylistic point of view one might wonder why Bound to Break had not been released between Gypsy Ways and Hunting Time instead.
But it’s not without flaws. As usual, there are a few inferior tracks present between the otherwise superb material. “Show Must Go On!” sounds a bit too slow-paced for my taste (especially after hearing those explosive first two numbers) and although Eizo Sakamoto sounds convincing enough, I could have done with some actual standout riffs on it. However, the worst offenders comes down to “Machine Made Dog”. It’s a seriously bad track and it makes me feel like an idiot every time I’ve finished listening to it. The riffs plod along and even Eizo Sakamoto sounds goofy here, but how could he not with an idiotic chorus that sounds like that? This might as well be the band’s worst track the band had written at this point… there’s just no other way to put it.
As I had mentioned, Bound to Break would also mark Eizo Sakamoto’s final contribution before temporary getting replaced with Yukio Morakawa and although he has never been my favorite Anthem vocalist, he definitely deserves credit for progressing for the best during his earlier years. The youthful tone that was part of his earlier vocals has been replaced by a mature tone and while the guy doesn’t scream as much as a banshee as he did earlier, he’s belting his heart out like a committed rock ’n roll survivor. The improved vocals match perfectly with Hiroya Fukuda’s cleaned up guitar tone, which would be a lot different when compared to the raw, garage-y tone of Tightrope.
So, even if it’s not exactly perfect, Bound to Break sounds very distinctive and it’s the best of the Eizo Sakamoto-era. If you’re looking for an album that sums up what Anthem was all about at a time, there’s no way you can go wrong with it.
Release date: March 1st, 1987
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