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Reviews » [Review] Reaction (Jpn) - Twist and Shout (1988)
I Want to Twist Their Necks and Shout Obscenities - 55%

Reaction built a reputation in Japan for their excellent style of speed metal, in fact, in their heyday they were the most successful speed metal band on their home soil before X Japan's rise. They maintained a high consistency level throughout their first four albums, so it came as a huge shock when they slowed it down and significantly toned down the aggression for their 1988 "effort" Twist and Shout. The change in sound is so dramatic that despite a mere 10 months since their self-titled album, you'd almost swear it were a different band entirely.

By a landslide, Twist and Shout is the worst album Reaction made. They took their furious heavy/speed metal with a thrashy edge and dumbed it down to a pitiful Jacks 'n' Joker/Ladies Room type hard rock, which isn't necessarily bad when said bands have only ever been commercial hard rock groups so you don't expect a ton in the first place, in fact I don't mind a couple songs by each, however, when it comes from a band the caliber of Reaction and dominates an entire album, something has clearly gone terribly wrong. Perhaps Junya Kato forced their hand here with a change in the music he wanted to play, as he formed the hard rock group Grand Slam immediately after Reaction's disbandment playing rock of a similar style to what's on Twist and Shout and he did quit due to musical differences after all, leaving the rest of the group no option but to call it quits too, and never ended up rejoining them when they reunited in 2006.

There's almost no metal to be found here, the most metallic songs being Red Zone, Rosie and Star Collector, but even then they're laughable when compared with any metal song found elsewhere in the band's catalog. Songwriting has plummeted, and I'm not sure if Yasuyuki Saito simply ran out of ideas on top of his obvious disagreement with Junya, but he'd shown in the past that he had the ability within him to do so much more. Junya's vocals aggression is barely present, none of his enthusiastic charm and shouting, and he sounds like he's purposely avoiding the scratchy harshness that borders on screaming that appeared when he really got going in the past, Yasuhiro's machinegun drums have been slowed to an overly simplistic, cuddly rock beat, and Saito delivers some pretty generic riffing that plods along slowly, and failing to build up any kind of authentic excitement. The band also inserted two super mushy ballads in All Right Heaven and Last Song that they would've seemingly avoided like the plague only a few short months before.

What's perhaps most disappointing about Twist and Shout is that here's a band that built up a legacy as one of the country's top metal acts and were clearly held in a legendary light by the bands around them, as evidenced by the all-star Reaction tribute album "Always on My Mind" which featured a completely ludicrous cast of members from J-metal gods Gargoyle, Earthshaker, Show-Ya, Aion, Sniper, Dancer, Dead End, Presence, Animetal, X-Ray and a legion of people from close to thirty other successful Japanese bands covering their favorite Reaction tunes, and that was years before any talks of a reunion or the death of any of the band's longtime members too.

This happened to be the first Reaction album I'd come across several years ago and only after I'd stumbled onto their other albums and familiarized myself with them did I finally realize what a travesty this ended up being. I suppose it doesn't hurt to give this a listen, as it's not bottom of the barrel hard rock, but boy is this a far cry from their other stuff and really doesn't deserve to bear Reaction's name on it. If you were familiar with the band's earlier catalog first and are expecting some of Reaction's raging fast heavy metal, I advise you to seer well clear of Twist and Shout.

Written by TadakatsuH0nda, re-posted from the Metal Archives.
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