Richard V. : As every fan of heavy music knows, there was a wave of new heavy metal bands from the United Kingdom in the early eighties. Almost simultaneously, a similar but smaller movement took place in Japan. Bands like Bow Wow and Earthshaker achieved successes in the wake of Loudness. That band released four strong, melodic heavy metal albums between 1981 and 1984 with ‘Disillusion’ as their highlight. They were signed by the Atlantic label and changed their focus to North America and their musical direction to a more accessible sound. This resulted in entertaining albums such as ‘Thunder In The East’, ‘Lightning Strikes’ and ‘Hurricane Eyes’. In 1989, singer Minoru Niihara was replaced by the American Mike Vescara to parry criticism about a (dominant) Japanese accent. It turned out to be the beginning of a string of line-up changes that almost killed the band. In the nineties and in the 21st century the band modernized its sound and nu-metal influences prevailed. Many fans from the early years could not appreciate that compact, compressed sound and lost interest. After the return of the original singer and bassist Masayoshi Yamashita, Loudness took small steps in the right direction, but lost original drummer Munetaka Higuchi along the way. He was aptly replaced by Masayuki Suzuki.
‘Rise To Glory’ is a return to the melodic heavy metal of the early years but in a modern way. A wise move because ‘Rise To Glory’ is the best Loudness album in over 25 years. After a short intro the band bursts into action on ‘Soul On Fire’ during which guitarist Akira Takasaki proves that he is still second to none. Wow! The up-tempo ‘I'm Still Alive’ is a composition that could have come off ‘The ‘Law Of Devil's Land’. The stomping grounds of ‘Go For Broke’ are also a treat. That the years took its toll on Niihara’s vocal chords is clear, his vocal range has reduced and his forced screams are not always a pleasure for the eardrums. What remained unchanged is the talent of Takasaki. Jezus, what can that man play. Listen to the raging ‘Massive Tornado’, a speed metal song with an amazing solo (hello Yngwie). The second half of the album after the interesting instrumental ‘Kama Sutra’ proves that Loudness is still relevant, the title track, ‘Why And For Whom’ and ‘No Limits’ are all great tunes.
The European CD release is accompanied by a bonus CD ‘Samsara Flight’ with newly recorded versions of Loudness classics from the eighties. We are curious if the young metal audience will embrace Loudness. The old guard that liked Loudness in the eighties, should really give this album a listen. Add it to your Spotify list and be pleasantly surprised.