Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Sun Has Risen Once Again

Japan's biggest contribution to the world of heavy metal, the band Loudness returns to the musical
forum with their new offering The Sun Will Rise Again.  The album was unleashed in June of
Takasaki on 2014's MORC-photo by Brian Ronald
2014 and continues the personal musical roller coaster ride of the driving force behind Loudness, guitarist Akira Takasaki.  While the biggest successes in North America came in the 80's with albums such as Thunder in the East and Lightening Strikes, Takasaki has never stopped issuing music under the Loudness moniker, albeit sometimes very quietly and despite many line-up adjustments.  The original lineup reunited in 2001, but sadly in 2008 drummer Munetaka Higuchi succumbed to liver cancer.  Today we find Masayuki Suzuki behind the kit and the rest of the band's membership is as original as possible with vocalist Minoru Niihara and bassist Masayoshi Yamashita joining Akira Takasaki.  I personally didn't get into Loudness until they were announced on 2013's Monsters of Rock Cruise which prompted me to look back into their expansive (26 studio albums) library.  The band's harder edge was dropped with the American success of the mid 80's albums and that is truly the era of the band that I prefer.  Takasaki discovered Buddhism during the 90's, but managed to keep producing music
Minoru Niihara on MORC 2014-photo by Brian Ronald
 and the albums had a more grungy/alternative flare to them, no doubt influenced by the popularity of  the times.  Some of those albums are difficult to listen to at times, containing songs such as the absurdly titled "Dogshit" for example.  Getting away from the groove metal/grunge sound when the original lineup reunited in 2001 they released the abysmal Spiritual Canoe.  It and the following albums were all hybrids of several musical styles making for more difficult listening in my opinion.  The more recent albums are aggressive and speedy as the band has taken a speed/thrash/borderline death metal approach for albums such as King of Pain and 2012.

The Sun Will Rise Again
Loudness have struck gold in a manner of speaking with The Sun Will Rise Again.  It's hard to believe that I'm about to describe this issue as melodic, but that's the case.  It's much more melodic than its recent predecessors, successfully combining the elements of the 80's Loudness with the current sound.  Make no mistake, this album is chock full of absolutely blistering guitar work and face melting heavy metal and that's just not a cliche that has been used to describe many albums, it's 100% true!  The cover art, however, is less than awe inspiring and at a quick glance in the CD store (is there such a thing anymore?) you may simply
Thunder in the East
dismiss it as a re-release of Thunder in the East.  The covers are incredibly similar and it wasn't until a dispute with a friend in which he pointed out the subtle differences did they really become apparent.  I guess after 26 releases you run out of cover ideas.....hey guys I know a great artist who'd happily design your next cover if you need!  I was looking forward to hearing the whole album after getting a preview of two new songs on 2014's Monsters of Rock Cruise and after a couple of listens this album has become my workout music of choice, having just the right amount of aggression, speed and guitar riffs to keep me pushing harder.

Takasaki & Suzuki on MORC 2014-photo by Brian Ronald
The album leads off with "Nourishment of the Mind", a just over two minute live instrumental intro that basically serves no purpose and would not have affected the outcome should it have been omitted.  From there however it opens up with "Got To Be Strong" showcasing the unmistakable Takasaki guitar tone throughout the chunky riffs.  The thrash influenced "Got to Be Strong" also features guitar solos, something that has been lackingly absent from the recent Loudness issues.  "Never Ending Fire" continues in the same vein with several tempo changes while "The Metal Man" is the shortest, aside from the intro, at almost three minutes.  Track #5, "Mortality" was one that was showcased (debuted) during 2014's Monsters of Rock Cruise and unless I'm completely losing my mind the riff reminds me of galloping horses!  None-the-less a great track, still very heavy, but containing just that little bit more melody than we've seen from the previous Loudness efforts.  "The Best" is an eight minute and twenty second (8:20) opus that begins with a sort of funky electronic "bee-whoop" (for those of you have seen that
Masayoshi Yamashita on MORC 2014-photo by Brian Ronald
Daffy Duck cartoon), a funky beat that fits well and returns about halfway through the composition.  The other of the two tracks showcased on MORC 2014 is up next and the title track to the release, "The Sun Will Rise Again".  "Rock You Wild" seems as though it should be a fist pumping rock anthem with a title like that, but in reality doesn't have that much to offer.  The next track however, "Greatest Ever Heavy Metal", is another running past the eight minute mark at 8:13 and the opening riff to this one has quickly become my fave.  It almost feels like an awakening as you listen to it, certainly great workout music.  "Shout" and "Not Alone" wrap things up on this molten metal headbanger's delight.

The whole album is loaded with Takasaki's unique guitar tones and plenty of shredding riffs serving as a playground for Niihara's harsh edged vocals, a perfect heavy metal combination.  It may not be the Loudness of the 80's found on Thunder in the East or Lightening Strikes, but I feel it's a successful melding of the sounds throughout the journey of Akira Takasaki.  Unfortunately, I fear that The Sun Will Rise Again may appeal more to Loudness aficionados than the average CD purchasing metal fan.

The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter) (Brian Ronald's MORC Photos)

(Loudness Website) (Loudness Facebook)


No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogger Template by Clairvo