Concert Report: ANIMETAL USA at Anime Expo

I first heard about ANIMETAL USA from Japanese news programs and collaborations with other popular acts late last year. They were carrying on the mantle of the original ANIMETAL group that formed in the mid 90′s that trail-blazed this type of fusion of metal/speed-metal with typically pop’py anime tunes. After spending some time watching live performances and listening to their album, it was clear that these guys, like their predecessors, were for real. Authentic and skilled musicians that had been part of some of the biggest and well known bands and acts around. When it was announced that ANIMETAL USA would be performing at ANIME EXPO and attending as guests of honor, I knew I had to experience this in person.

ANIMETAL USA is Mike Vescera (Obsession/ex-Loudness), bassist Rudy Sarzo (Blue Oyster Cult, ex-Ozzy OsbourneQuiet RiotWhitesnakeDio), guitarist Chris Impellitteri (Impellitteri), and drummer Jon Dette (ex-SlayerTestament). And former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman has joined in arranging the music. I don’t consider myself a metal-head in the purest sense, but WOW at those resumes and names.

Highlights of the night included technically amazing renditions of Space Battleship Yamato‘s opening theme and Do You Remember Love? from Macross. I’m a sucker for good speed guitar playing, and Impellitteri did not disappoint one bit.

 

 

Their setlist covered many different eras of anime but with a considerable focus on the classics of the 80′s/90′s. Having grown up watching much of those undisputed classics, the songs that they cover or re-image were real treats and should appeal to anime fans of an older generation. But there were also songs for current ongoing series like We Are! from One Piece and the song Rock Lee for the Naruto spinoff.

The music was intense and superbly arranged, the originals transformed into works of metal that could stand on their own. Don’t forget the work that must of went into making the song and lyrical transition from Japanese to English. They weren’t just straight translated nor were they made up and irrelevant, the English lyrics were crafted to stay true to the spirit of the originals. The playing was precise as expected from musicians of this level, and Mike’s voice is a perfect fit for this style. The theatrics and stage better than what you would expect from a typically acoustically unsuitable convention hall.

A big round of applause for ANIMETAL USA putting on a great show and thanks to Anime Expo for inviting this talented band.