Vow Wow

Cyclone

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Japan's recently rechristened Vow Wow took a second stab at success outside their homeland with 1985's Cyclone (their 11th career studio album, if you count their releases as Bow Wow), which scaled back the wilder, heavy metal-meets-new wave experiments of its predecessor to pursue a more predictable, yet possibly even more combustible heavy rock style. In a nutshell, frenzied numbers like "Hurricane" and "Siren Song" came across like a Bizarro World Van Halen where synthesizers dueled fiercely against guitars for supremacy: they were borderline speed metal, instrumentally dazzling, faultlessly produced, and therefore as exciting as they were just a little soulless. Yes, it's weird. Less urgent but downright irresistible synth rockers like "Hell-Raisers Wanted" or "Rock Your Cradle" appeared to be ready for prime-time on AOR radio, and the insufferably made-to-order numbskull arena rock of "U.S.A." and "Shake Your Body" (which, thanks to Genki Hitomi's vocal histrionics, sounds rather like "Shake Your Butthole") perhaps even more so; but sadly, none of the above ever made it anywhere near American airwaves. Sprinkled betwixt these mainstream cuts for variety, but adding little substance to the final product, were a cursory, moody synthesizer intro ("Premonition"), a short vocal interlude ("Need Your Love"), an even shorter solo guitar ejaculation ("Eclipse"), and an insufferably schmaltzy ballad named "You Know What I Mean" (yes, yes we do). These negatives notwithstanding, though, this material certainly pushed the excesses of mid-‘80s metal recording techniques to their ultimate conclusion, and proved that Vow Wow were perfectly deserving of joining many of the Western peers whose private club they craved admission to. Yet, somehow, a true commercial breakthrough continued to elude the band here, and for years to come.

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