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Heavy metal is kept alive on a highest level - 93%

kluseba, September 24th, 2012

Thirty years after their foundation, Japanese heavy metal and rock icons Bow Wow, who have also been known under the banner of Vow Bow during a certain period of their long career, are back in strength with a brand new and until now last full length release called "Era". The fascinating thing about this release is that despite being a traditionally influenced hard rock and heavy metal album that tends clearly towards the latter style and despite being played in the original line-up by three very routineered musicians plus one session bass player close to the band, the final result sounds really fresh and never old fashioned. It's almost as if one was listening to a hungry newcomer band that wants to expose us its diversified talent. In the vague of retro rock and metal bands, the true originals easily beat the copies and deliver one of the best releases of an entire decade of an almost dying genre. Once again, I'm not surprised that these guys come from Asia's Far East as many stable high quality bands happen to come from there and still deliver excellent releases nowadays. Any fan of bands such as Anthem or Loudness should also pick up this album that we have here.

The singer sounds like a mixture of Stratovarius Timo Kotipelto in his earlier years, Jon Bon Jovi on his best and most rock or metal orientated releases of the eighties and I even happen to associate some of the vocals to the unique talent of a Jørn Lande. These are though only approximative comparisons as teh singer simply is quite versatile and still manges to sound very unique. He definitely is one of the best of its genre and I'm surprised I haven't heard of him before. The guitar sound is emotional, energizing and very precise and varies from minimalist but tight riffs to very longing melodic guitar solos and even some atmospheric acoustic breaks. The bass guitar player might only be a session musician but his playing abilities must not hide behind the virtuosity of the others. His instrument sounds dominating, pumping and always tight as it is only the case for the greatest traditional metal bands out there. It harmonizes well with the drums and the rhythm section really builds the solid backbone of this release.

The band doesn't turn back the wheel of time and doesn't reinvent the genre but still manages to sound intriguing and not too repetitive. The opening "Fallen Angel" could almost come from a European power metal band with guts and is a great opener. "The Deal" is maybe the catchiest song on here and won't get out of your mind all too soon once you've listened to this. The only track with Japanese lyrics entitled "Rock 'n' Roll Swindler" bring some fresh air in and has some really tight rhythms. Add to this that the vivid vocals are here performed by guitar player and background singer who almost sounds as charismatic as the original one.

One of the biggest surprises comes along with "Tycoon" that starts like a slightly angry and minimalist hard rock track when suddenly a break occurs and the mood of the song completely switches in form of an emotionally played acoustic guitar passage. With this track starts the trio of the best songs on this record. "Liars" is one of the most energizing tracks from an instrumental point of view with the best bass guitar work on the entire album, one of the most emotional guitar solos and truly intense and diversified vocals. Finally, the band delivers an epic ballad in form of "One Way Love" that includes atmospheric keyboard passages, slow and dreamy guitar chords as well as a few echoing drum loops.

I only miss a more progressive epic piece that would surely sound impressive coming from a band with so many highly gifted musicians and an energizing singer. Bow Wow could have also integrated some more Japanese lyrics to their record and they maybe sound a little bit to Occidental from time to time but these are only details or small suggestions.

Every single song on this release is enjoyable and the forty-eight minutes pass way too fast and almost force you to listen to the entire record once again. This release is truly addicting because of its high quality musicianship. The band members are all masters of their instruments and the vocals are also everything but faceless. Add a perfect production to this where the instruments manage to have a crystal clear and precise sound without feeling too polished and modern and you get one of the best traditional heavy metal records of the last decade. These guys definitely keep traditional heavy metal alive on a highest level. If you like this genre and want to show your friends that it's still alive nowadays, you have no choice but buying this album straight away.