Loudness – The Everlasting – 3.5/5
I laughed when I found out Loudness had released a new album. I thought they’d packed it in years ago, but as it turns out they have yet to take an appreciable break and are here with their 22nd album! (and I’m not including EPs, Live Albums or Compilations in that). One of the founders of the initial wave of Heavy Metal in Japan, and still retaining all but the drummer from that original 1980 line-up (who unfortunately died just last year after a long battle with liver cancer), imagine my surprise when not only do I discover all this, but to top it off they still know how to make good old-fashioned Heavy Metal.
In fact, at times it feels as though they haven’t grown up at all; that somehow they’re still in this bubble still in the 80s, that simpler time before there was more than one genre to classify anyway, and all that mattered was that it was loud you played it and easy to bang your head to it. And that’s where the bass kicks in; carrying much of the rhythm, it may be horribly simplistic by many standards but it was never going for technicality anyway. With plenty of old school groove in its thick warming tone, it forms the unlikely heart of the band. Complemented by no shortage of solos that lie somewhere between Malmsteem’s neo-classical shredding abilities and Schenker’s desire for melody, the guitars are simple yet effective.
The vocals have a shrill rough and ready attitude that fits perfectly with the music, assuming you can get accustomed to his relatively thick Japanese accent, and whilst the drums manage to keep up neither feel as though on top form. This is a very guitar driven piece, and that only carries it so far. Given its simplistic nature, there simply aren’t enough hooks, and many of the tracks begin to bleed together by the end. It needs more cliché catchy chorus lines, more crazy drum fills, more electric guitar riffs working with the bassist, rather copying each other. Where this happens (such as in ‘Flame of Rock’) the result is more memorable than many of the others.
This is by no means their best work – that is still in their past – but how many decent bands still manage to make music the old way and do it well? Not only that, but they do manage to vary their style a little from track to track (any Loudness fan will tell you they never really settled into a ‘niche’ as other bands have, and always seem to be slowly evolving), with the almost gothic title track, ballad in ‘life goes on’ and the anthemic ‘Let it Rock,’ even though it isn’t as good as the best of the 80s, it’s still pretty damn good. Well count me gobsmacked.
Highlights: Flame of Rock, Let it Rock Desperate Religion