Album of the Week 24-2016: Saber Tiger – Decisive

Yesterday and the day before, I was lucky enough to witness the first two concerts Saber Tiger ever gave on European soil. It’s hard to explain how happy that makes me, but Saber Tiger is the one band I never thought I’d have a chance to see without actually going to Japan. They never made the international impact that their peers Loudness and Anthem did, even though they’ve been vastly superior to either of them in recent years. In fact, ‘Decisive’ is one of my all time favorite records, because it combines everything that I love about Heavy Metal in general.

Guitarist Akihito Kinoshita has soldiered on with Saber Tiger since 1981 and has improved the band with each change. However, ‘Decisive’ marked the start of a significant leap forward, because it finally combines all of the band’s strengths: Takenori Shimoyama’s raw, passionate singing, the dual guitar attack of the intuitive Kinoshita and the somewhat more modern, technical Yasuharu Tanaka and the inventive riff work. In addition, newcomer Yasuhiro Mizuno’s very accomplished drum work offers the opportunity for a more contemporary, progressive approach – think Nevermore – to the band’s traditional Heavy Metal and Power Metal sound. The sound is energetic, melodic, unpredictable and just simply amazing.

Still in the phase of discovering the band, ‘At The Front’ was the song that won me over definitively and I still think it’s their best. It’s also the perfect example of the album’s strength: some of the rhythms and riffs contain more than a hint of Progressive Metal influences, but the melodies also have the dramatic elegance of classic Heavy Metal. This sense of drama is reflected well in the song’s lyrics and Shimoyama’s powerful performance. All the elements of this highly dynamic track complement each other, making the result even better than the sum of its parts.

What makes ‘Decisive’ stand out from many contemporary Metal records is that every song has a clear identity of its own. ‘Angel Of Wrath’ was a logical choice for a video because of its strong melodic sensibilities, ‘Avenger’ features one mind blowing riff after the other and opening track ‘The Hammer’ ups the intensity to almost Thrash levels. The main riff in ‘Bionic’ pushes the band into more modern, Pantera-like territory, something that works very well with the excellent lyrics courtesy of co-producer Fubito Endo. It’s amazing how much variation they crammed into this one hour album. That alone is worthy of your attention and quite likely the reason why it will hold your attention as well.

Every self-respecting fan of expertly written and executed Heavy Metal with excellent vocals should have ‘Decisive’ in his or her collection. It’s the work of a band looking to expand its boundaries and succeeding in it with an ease that I – as a songwriter – should envy, but instead, can’t stop listening to. It’s unbelievable how much the band continues to grow more than three decades into their career. ‘Decisive’ is an album that contains everything you could wish for as a Metal fan and more. And there may be a chance that Europe will finally get the chance to discover this amazing band. I’ll meet you there.

Recommended tracks: ‘At The Front’, ‘Angel Of Wrath’, ‘The Hammer’

    • Fubito
    • June 25th, 2016

    Hey buddy. I have been sending e-mail to you but they all rejected and returned from your server. If you have alternate account, hit me up 🙂

    • Hey my friend, just sent an e-mail your way, it should be working now, but there’s an alternative in case it doesn’t!

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