For the last 35 years, Saber Tiger has been building a strong fan base in their native Japan, improving upon their classic heavy metal sound and contemporary progressive touches with each step along the way. And this isn't just any anniversary: from now on, the rest of the world will fall prey to Saber Tiger.
Saber Tiger was founded in 1981 by guitarist Akihito Kinoshita. It hasn't been an easy ride; numerous line-up influences and the band's relatively remote location on the northern island of Hokkaido may have slowed down the rise of Saber Tiger, but Kinoshita has soldiered on through good times and bad. Lately, the band is experiencing the most prolific years of their career. With singer Takenori Shimoyama, guitarist Yasuharu Tanaka - both of whom had extended stints with the band in the nineties - and drummer Yasuhiro Mizuno in their lineup, the band sounds more inspired than ever.
As proven on - so far - Japan-only releases 'Decisive' (2011), 'Messiah Complex' (2012) and 'Bystander Effect' (2015), the band takes full advantage of the musical expertise within the band. Kinoshita's intuitive guitar playing perfectly complements Tanaka's more technical style, Shimoyama's raw-edged clean vocals are passionate and powerful, while Mizuno can take the band through both technical passages and simpler grooves with incredible ease. The latest talent to join the ranks is Hibiki, one of Japan's most promising young bass players, who played on 'Bystander Effect' as well as all consecutive live shows. Past, present and future come together in Saber Tiger's music. The band honors the tradition of heavy metal, but is also clearly a band of its own time. Twin guitar melodies and inventive riffs should satisfy everyone's eighties metal euphoria, but the music also sounds fresh and vibrant. Their unpredictable songwriting will keep you hungry for more.
Another thing that has made Saber Tiger stand out in the Japanese metal scene is the quality of their English lyrics. These aren't just Japanese lyrics with the occasional internationally understood catchphrase; these songs have something to say and they do it in proper, well-pronounced English.
Saber Tiger had its first taste of the European audience when they played two intense concerts in the Netherlands in June 2016. Shortly after, the band signed with Into The LimeLight Records, finally giving them the chance to present their top quality material to a worldwide audience. That means the rest of the world can finally find out what Japanese metalheads have known for a long time: Saber Tiger might just be the best heavy metal band that Japan has to offer. And as proof that hard work and never giving up always pays off, 2017 will be the year that the world will finally know about Japan's best kept secret.
text: Kevin Pasman