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Saber Tiger - Bystander Effect Award winner

Saber Tiger
Bystander Effect
by Kyle Scott at 22 March 2018, 9:53 AM

Within the microcosm that is Japanese Metal, SABER TIGER has laid claim to a spot in the scene for the last 35 years. They’ve endured the typical line-up changes of many an underground band, they’ve dealt with limited performances on their fairly remote island home of Hokkaido, but high member turnover, long hiatus periods and a confined locale failed to keep the band down.

Since the early 80s SABER TIGER has released a total of ten demos, as well as two EPs “Rise”, and “Crush and Dush”. “Bystander Effect” is the band’s fourteenth(!) studio album, and they have gone through some sound changes as well as line-up. Their earlier demos had a nice, unclean Punk sound to them that, as the years went by, became more refined and settled into a Power Metal groove, and they sound perfectly at home with that choice.

For “Bystander Effect”, they’re not shy about introducing themselves in the first few minutes of opening track “Dying Breed”. Takenori Shimoyama voice cuts through the instrumentals and basks in beautiful lyrics. “Sin Eater” and “Act of Heroism” are packed with aggressive lyrics and do not skimp on any head banging riffs. The Japanese version’s third track “Rinne” is a fantastic song in their native Japanese that I wish I could translate the lyrics. “Sono Hateo Shirazu” is another track conspicuously absent from the international addition and sounds no less beautiful in their native language. “Just-World Hypothesis” has infectious choruses and dystopian lyrics of those who demand success, stepping on anyone to get to the (inevitably lonely) top.

“An Endless End: Another Time” is the calmest track with acoustic overtones and isolated vocals, Shimoyama’s voice the backdrop to a frozen apocalyptic landscape. Hibiki’s bass takes a moment to shine on the track, as well. “Ship of Theseus” is another lonely track that is pure acoustic calm and twangy bass riffs. SABER TIGER performs with a fierce passion that rivals a lot of other Metal bands. Yasuhiro Mizuno’s drums clearly take center stage, dictating the speed and intensity of Akihito Kinoshita and Yasuharu Tanaka’s riffs. They beat down your door and inject your heart with 100% Power Metal Pride, and it feels… Pretty good. What’s not to love?

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. Dying Breed
2. Sin Eater
3. Act of Heroism
3* Rinne
4. Dreadout
5. One Last Time
5* Heroism
6. Just-World Hypothesis
7. What I Used to Be
7* Sono Hateo Shirazu
8. Shameless
9. An Endless End: Another Time
10. Devastation Trail
11. Afterglow
11* Shameless
12. Ship of Theseus
* Japan release only
Takenori Shimoyama - Vocal
Akihito Kinoshita - Guitar
Yasuharu "Machine" Tanaka - Guitar
Hibiki - Bass
Yasuhiro Mizuno – Drums
Record Label: Edge Trax


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Edited 08 December 2021

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