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Universal Music Group
|Members||Eizo Sakamoto (vocals)
Akio Shimizu (electric guitar)
Naoto Shibata (bass guitar)
Hirotsugu Homma (drums)
|Past members||Yoshitaka Mikuni - keyboards
Don Airey - keyboards
Takamasa Ohuchi - (drums)
Kazumasa Saitoh - (electric guitar)
Hiroya Fukuda - (electric guitar)
Graham Bonnet - (vocals)
Yukio Morikawa - (vocals)
Toshihito Maeda - (vocals)
Akifumi Koyanagi - (electric guitar)
Anthem (アンセム Ansemu ) is a Japanese heavy metal band that was formed during the early 1980s in Tokyo. They are among the handful of heavy metal bands founded in Japan during that time and are considered to be one of the most successful and influential, alongside Loudness and Earthshaker.
Early years (1980–1985)
Anthem was founded in Tokyo during 1980 as a quartet, composed of singer Toshihito Maeda, guitarist Akifumi Koyanagi, bass player Naoto Shibata (also known as "Ski") and drummer Takamasa Ohuchi. Koyanagi left in late 1983 to be replaced by Hiroya Fukada. In December 1984, vocalist Toshihito Maeda also left and Anthem drafted Eizo Sakamoto for their debut eponymous album, issued in July 1985 by Nexus and licensed to Europe via Roadrunner Records.
Their first studio release featured classic songs like "Wild Anthem" and "Warning Action". Their first EP single in 1986, entitled "Xanadu", was the first known song to be used for promotion of a video game, namely Nihon Falcom's computer RPG "Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu". The next release, Tightrope showcased a more catchy, melodic sound with an improved vocal performance by Sakamoto. Bound to Break was to be the last album featuring Eizo Sakamoto for nearly two decades, and was by far his most impressive vocal performance to that point. The album was full of classics ("Empty Eyes", "Bound to Break", "Soldiers") and introduced the band's long-time world-famous producer, Chris Tsangarides (perhaps best known for producing Judas Priest's classic 1990 album, Painkiller). With the departure of Sakamoto in 1988, Shibata recruited Yukio Morikawa to the band's vocal position. With Morikawa came the album Gypsy Ways, considered the band's most popular album. Morikawa's voice made the band a great success at that time and he was similar in style, vocal range and ability to Graham Bonnet. In 1989, the album Hunting Time was released and the song "The Juggler" was used as a PV. In the beginning of 90s, Anthem dealt with another departure, this time Hiroya Fukuda (guitar) left and was replaced by Hideaki 'Shadow Walker' Nakama which recorded the album No Smoke Without Fire, this time without the band's staple producer / engineer Chris Tsangarides. Hideaki Nakama left the band after recording just that one album and the search for a new guitarist began.
After many auditions, the young Akio Shimizu joined the band to replace Nakama. In 1992, the band released Domestic Booty, one of their best albums, with amazing technical songs (courtesy of Shimizu): Venom Strike, Renegade, and The Dice of No Mercy. Unfortunately, classic-style heavy metal was out of fashion in the early 90s, and with the explosion of grunge in the U.S. and the Visual Kei movement in Japanese music, Shibata decided to put an end to the band. The members of Anthem followed the album's release with a very big tour covering many cities of Japan and finally they released the VHS/CD Last Anthem - Live recorded at Nissin Power Station, which was to be the band's last show for nearly eight years.
After the long hiatus, Anthem returned in 2000, with the album Heavy Metal Anthem which featured the vocalist Graham Bonnet (former lead singer of Rainbow and Alcatrazz). The album is entirely composed by classic songs of the band rearranged with English lyrics. The lineup on Heavy Metal Anthem was: Graham Bonnet (vocals), Naoto Shibata (bass), Akio Shimizu (guitar) and Takamasa Oouchi (drums).
Later, Hirotsugu Homma (who had briefly played together with Shibata in Loudness) replaced Takamasa Oouchi on drums and Eizo Sakamoto returned to the vocals. In 2001, they released Seven Hills, showcasing an entirely new musical direction for the band, although still firmly rooted in 80s heavy metal. In 2002 came Overload, which is considered by most critics[by whom?] to be much more aggressive than Seven Hills. In 2003, the band recorded Live' Melt Down in Citta Club Kawazaki, with a setlist full of classics and an amazing performance by Sakamoto. In 2004 the band released the single "Onslaught" followed by the album Eternal Warrior, which continued in the same sound direction as Overload. In 2005, Anthem celebrated their twentieth year anniversary with a special tour, where all members of the band since 1985 played the band songs in their respective formations. At the final show of this tour was filmed the DVD "20th Anniversary Tour" (again at Club Citta in Kawazaki).
In 2006 Anthem released Immortal, followed by the single and PV of "Immortal Bind". The most recent output has seen Anthem push even further into the Power Metal-tinged style showcased on 'Domestic Booty' and Eternal Warrior with 2008's Black Empire. A PV of "Heat of the Night" was released shortly after the album hit in November 2008 and has thus far garnered even more positive critical reviews than Immortal.
Their much anticipated album Heraldic Device was released in 2011. This was their last album with record label company JVC.
As of 2012, Anthem has signed with record label Universal Music and has released a new single "Evil One" in September 2012 and following with an album, Burning Oath, that was released in October 2012.
The current line-up has currently guest drummer Isamu Tamaru due to Hirotsugu Homma's left knee injury from a car accident in late 2008, but the latter hasn't left the band's formation, still performing on most songs.
On Jan 10, 2013, the band announced it was on hiatus after Shibata was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The band said on its home page that the cancer was detected early and it was optimistic it could return to touring in April.
- Eizo Sakamoto - Vocals (1984-1988, 2000–present)
- Akio Shimizu - Electric guitar (1991-1992, 2000–present)
- Naoto Shibata - Bass guitar (1981-1992, 2000–present)
- Isamu Tamaru - Drums (2012- )
- Yoshitaka Mikuni - Keyboards (1989-1990)
- Don Airey - Keyboards
- Takamasa Ohuchi - Drums (1981-1992, 2000)
- Kazumasa Saitoh - Electric guitar
- Hiroya Fukuda - Electric guitar (1983-1990)
- Akifumi Koyanagi - Electric guitar (1981-1983)
- Hideaki Nakama - Electric guitar (1990-1991)
- Yukio Morikawa - Vocals (1988-1992)
- Toshihito Maeda - Vocals (1981-1984)
- Graham Bonnet - Vocals (2000)
- Hirotsugu Homma - Drums (2000-2013)
- 1985 - Anthem
- 1985 - Ready to Ride
- 1986 - Tighrope
- 1987 - Bound to Break
- 1988 - Gypsy Ways
- 1989 - Hunting Time
- 1990 - No Smoke Without Fire
- 1992 - Domestic Booty
- 2000 - Heavy Metal Anthem
- 2001 - Seven Hills
- 2002 - Overload
- 2004 - Eternal Warrior
- 2006 - Immortal
- 2008 - Black Empire
- 2011 - Heraldic Device
- 2012 - Burning Oath
- 1987 - The Show Carries On!
- 1992 - Last Anthem
- 2003 - Live' Melt Down
- 2005 - The Show Carries On! - Complete Version
- 2005 - Prologue Live Boxx
- 1990 - Best 1981-1990
- 1992 - Best II 1981-1992
- 1998 - The Very Best of Anthem
- 2001 - Anthem Ways
- 2005 - Official Bootleg (CD-Version)
- 2005 - Official Bootleg (Boxed set)
- 2007 - Core - Best of Anthem 2000-2007
- 1987 - The Show Carries On
- 2001 - Back Then
- 2003 - Live' Melt Down: The Show Still Carries On
- 2005 - Anthem 20th Anniversary Tour 2005
- 2009 - Live Immortal
- 1986 - "Xanadu"
- 2000 - "Gypsy Ways (Win, Lose or Draw)"
- 2001 - "Grieve of Heart"
- 2002 - "The Voices"
- 2004 - "Onslaught"
- 2006 - "Immortal Bind"
- 2008 - "Heat of the Night"
- 2012 - "Evil One"
- 2013 - "Blast"