Eternal youth thanks to the heavy metal cure - A review of Loudness' Rise to Glory
Even nearly four decades after its foundation, it's still a great joy to listen to this surprisingly juvenile Japanese heavy metal legend. This is due to two very important factors. First of all, one has to cite Niihara Minoru's truly unique voice who manages to mix controlled screams with a somewhat raw undertone and a particular accent that adds a melodic yet vibrant note to his performance. Secondly, Takasaki Akira is still one of the best guitarists in the genre who pulls off fast and melodic speed metal solos as well as gripping heavy and doom metal riffs but who also experiments with psychedelic soundscapes every now and then. Supported by a tight rhythm section, these eternally young protagonists entertain us throughout thirteen new tracks and a generous running time above one hour. The limited edition of this release even includes a nice selection of recently re-recorded classics. Since this album is one of the band's few to be released by a big international label, you shouldn't even think twice about purchasing the limited edition of Loudness' Rise to Glory.
The first few songs already showcase Loudness' typical soundscapes in a fresh way. The instrumental opener ''8118'' opens with a mysterious, psychedelic atmosphere inspired by Indian folklore which is due to the guitarist's conversion to Buddhism which occurred in the nineties when the band almost broke apart and this inspiration can also be found in the other instrumental track ''Kama Sutra''. ''Soul on Fire'' and ''Go for Broke'' are powerful heavy metal tracks with slight melancholic undertones that could have been released back in the eighties but that sound up-to-date thanks to passionate performances and an overall crunchy production. The bouncy ''I'm Still Alive'' quickens up the pace, slightly inspired by speed and thrash metal of the late eighties without denying the band's classic heavy metal vibe. If you're able to sit or stand still while listening to this energizing track, you're probably either deaf or metal just isn't your kind of music. A song like ''Until I See the Light'' includes a few acoustic guitar passages but quickly evolves into a slow-paced stomping metal track that makes you want to tap your feet. Loudness' style truly represents what heavy metal is all about.
The album proceeds with a mixture of mid-paced heavy metal anthems, up-tempo tracks with minimal speed metal influences and a few playful songs with extended guitar solos and occasional psychedelic folk influences. The thunderous ''Massive Tornado'' and the epic ''Why and for Whom'' could be cited as highlights in the second half but the record is slightly losing steam as time goes by. If the record had been reduced to the best eight or nine tracks, it could easily compete with the band's greatest cuts from the eighties.
As it is, Rise to Glory is still a very good heavy metal record that outclasses most other genre veterans thanks to the distinguished guitar play and vocals. After the somewhat formulaic The Sun Will Rise Again, the Japanese heavy metal quartet is definitely back in the game with this more diversified, passionate and refreshing late career highlight. If you like heavy metal, you should certainly get your hands on this great output.
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