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Reviews » [Review] Reaction (Jpn) - True Imitation (1987)
Top of the Mountain - 90%

Reaction were part of the small group that truly defined and helped shape what Japanese heavy metal is today. Though it's in the band's biography tab, it's entirely necessary to mention their significance to the Kanto metal movement, who along with Sabbrabells, Bow Wow and Anthem brought heavy metal to life in the Tokyo area, while the Kansai region was already established and growing with bands from Osaka, led by 44 Magnum, X-Ray, Loudness and Earthshaker. Reaction were Japan's biggest speed metal band before X Japan's ascension to stardom, in fact, I can say with a fair amount of certainty these guys played a major influence in shaping the sound of X Japan's faster songs, especially by the time they released Vanishing Vision and Blue Blood. Following Reaction's first two successful albums Insane and Agitator, Reaction were at the top of their game, and unleashed what is to me their best work, True Imitation.

Junya's vocals are clean and melodic, yet enraged and violent with tons of shouting similar to the way Toshi was in much of X Japan's earlier stuff, though Junya's regular singing isn't quite as powerful nor is his range as diverse as Toshi; he does exceed Toshi's aggression however. Every song on True Imitation has an alluring angry attitude on top of being damn catchy that leaves you really wanting more, keeping you engaged at all times. I can only imagine that this band absolutely slayed when performing live as they really get you pumped up and full of energy, among the best songs in this aspect are Let it Rock, Everybody's Crazy, Think Bout Tomorrow and Lust. Speaking of Lust, its inclusion is a pleasant little surprise, as it's a re-recording of a song from their demo, and actually has a lot more tenacity than the original too.

It was clear that this band was truly on fire when this album was put out, with Yasuyuki Saito's dynamic, creative and lightning fast guitar riffs leading the way, complemented by furious squealing guitar solos, and an in-your-face fiery attitude few Japanese bands at the time could claim. Yasuhiro Umezawa (RIP) possessed the perfect skill-set for this band, providing some incredibly fast drumming and creative fills at key moments. Tetsuyuki Sorimachi's bass is also played well, he doesn't try anything fancy, but does a fine job backing Saito. Reaction seemed to be in an exceptionally foul mood for this release and while they didn't have the slightest interest in ballads on a normal day, they refused to go anything but full tilt here, the whole album is nothing but pure, straightforward, loud, proud heavy metal.

Following True Imitation, Reaction would put out one more solid album, self-titled, as well as an extremely weak final album shortly thereafter (Twist and Shout) before breaking up due to disagreement over musical direction. The instrumentalists attempted reviving the band in 2006 with a new vocalist, but Yasuyuki Saito sadly passed away in 2008 and the band broke up for good shortly after, never managing to reclaim their former glory, but thankfully what they did leave behind was a great discography and a legacy as major pioneers of Japanese metal. These guys are superb, plain and simple. If you're a fan of the old Japanese traditional heavy metal scene at all and haven't come across Reaction, you owe it to yourself to give any of their first four albums a try, especially True Imitation.

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