Earthshaker

Earthshaker

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For their first, eponymous album, Japan's Earthshaker traveled to San Francisco to record under the tutelage of Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith, who went as far as contributing the song "Dark Angel (Animals)" to the sessions, but didn't otherwise attempt to make the quartet sound like his own band. Rather, Earthshaker -- the album -- contained classic but commercially oriented heavy metal which pretty much split the difference between the group's two biggest influences: Bay Area natives Y&T, whose seminal album inspired their name; and compatriots Loudness, who at that time constituted the gold standard by which all up-and-coming metal bands from the land of the rising sun were being measured. To be perfectly honest, typically mid-paced Earthshaker metal anthems like the title song and "Yume No Hate O" were never as explosive as either act at their best; and despite vocalist Masafumi Nishida's near-identical emulation of Loudness' Minoru Niihara, guitarist and chief songwriter Shinichiro Ishihara had neither the superhuman chops, nor the overpowering presence to match six-string colossus Akira Takasaki. Instead, with the exception of the unusually nippy highlight, "Wall," their made to order heavy rockers felt almost disturbingly civilized at times, while the album's big ballad, "I Feel All Sadness," took explicit cues -- especially during the guitar solo -- from Y&T's tour de force "I Believe in You." Also, as was still the case for Loudness themselves in 1983, Earthshaker had the curious habit of giving most of their songs English titles and choruses, but penning all other lyrics in their native tongue -- a trait that would continually hamper their chances of crossing over to audiences outside Japan. All things considered, though, '80s heavy metal enthusiasts could do a lot worse than checking out Earthshaker, and this effort remains their best studio album.

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