Japan has some truly great heavy metal bands, and while the amount remains modest many of the newcomers have been able to capture the same passion as long running acts like Loudness. One name you might not have come across yet is Significant Point, who are celebrating a decade of existence this year with a debut full length. Having established themselves with a live album and two-track single previously, but losing multiple vocalists in the process, Significant Point hasn’t let that slow them down and has enlisted the help of George Itoh (Risingfall, Military Shadow) as a guest for Into the Storm. With material that spans classic speed, heavy, and even some power metal, this band covers a lot of ground and offers catchy riffs and scorching solos from beginning to end which is sure to put a smile on the face of any traditional metal fan’s face.
“Attacker” and “Danger Zone” have appeared on some of the group’s earlier releases, with the remaining eight showcasing a good amount of variety that pulls from a fairly wide range of heavy and speed metal influences. The majority of Significant Point’s material is written around that familiar twin guitar attack, meaning you’ll get plenty of high-flying solos and stand-out moments where both guitarists play off of each other perfectly. “Attacker” kicks things off on the heavier and more aggressive side of the spectrum with speed and scorching tonality that unleashes riff after riff at listeners, but once you get to songs like “You’ve got the Power” things lighten up slightly and some additional melody breaks through the rougher edges with some moments that even remind me of some Japanese rock bands from decades past. Into the Storm strikes a good balance between these rock/power metal sounding moments and the speed and fury that channel early NWOBHM and even a little of thrash’s energy. The production values also enhance the listening experience by keeping some rougher edges to the recording while still showcasing a good deal of polish as well as letting the bass break through the mix on many of the songs. Admittedly while Significant Point has some truly catchy and memorable riffs at the beginning and end of the album the middle had a few that didn’t grab me quite as much, but there’s still a consistency to the material that has had me wanting to come back again and again.
From what I’ve read about this album on other websites and social media, George Itoh’s vocal style seems to be of the love it or hate it variety. Itoh tends to stick towards the higher registers here, with the type of energetic singing that sometimes sounds like it’s about to collapse inwards on itself. I can see why this type of performance that has a lot of rougher edges might not appeal to everyone, but found that the pseudo-falsettos and sometimes softer ranges fit the balance of intensity and melody that the rest of Significant Point was going for. It’s a completely different approach from the raw screams Itoh utilizes on Military Shadow’s Material and he goes for falsettos more often than on Risingfall, pushing him towards the limits of his range at times but still managing to impress from one song to the next.
There’s a lot to like about Significant Point’s debut, as the mix of heavy, speed, and power metal makes their music feel less formulaic and the high-flying guitar solos consistently stand out. Although the middle has some lulls and not everyone is likely to gel with the vocal approach, this is another strong showing from Japan that demonstrates the newer bands from this country are able to channel the energy of the classics. It remains to be seen where they will go from here and whether Itoh will be brought in as a permanent addition or Significant Point will look for a new singer in the coming years, but I’m excited to find out. Into the Storm is available from Dying Victims Productions.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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