Sunday Old School: Loudness
It seems that in the Sunday Old School archives, we’ve mostly been looking at bands from Great Britain, Germany and the United States. One of the goals this year is to help expand the knowledge of heavy metal veterans from all over the world. This week, we’re heading to the land of the Rising Sun, as we take a look at Loudness. The band was formed in 1981 in Osaka, after guitarist Akira Takasaki, drummer Munetaka Higuchi and bass player Hiroyuki Tanaka left the pop rock band, Lazy. While looking a for a sound for their new band, they trio stumbled upon the recent wave of Japanese heavy metal bands such as Anthem and Bow Wow and decided to adopt the heavy metal style. Tanaka felt that the style wasn’t for him and left to pursue work in the anime business, with Takasaki inviting his childhood friend Masayoshi Yamashita to become the group’s new bassist, which he accepted. The band was then completed when they recruited Earthshaker vocalist Minoru Niihara, and Loudness was born. They almost immediately signed a record deal with major label Nippon Columbia and released their debut album, "The Birthday Eve" in 1981. The album was only released in Japan but did surprisingly well and the band quickly got to writing and releasing new albums. Two years after their formation and debut, Loudness released their third record, "The Law Of The Devil’s Land," which was popular enough to allow the group to tour the United States.
The group then moved to Europe and recorded two versions of their fourth album, "Disillusion," one in Japanese and one in English, their first album to be translated as such. The attempt at appealing to English speaking audiences paid off and soon they signed a deal with American major label, Atco Records, through whom they released the album, "Thunder In The East," which reached number 74 on the Billboard album charts, thanks in part to the success of the single, "Crazy Night." More chart success would come with their next record, "Lightning Strikes," (released in Japan as "Shadows Of War") which climbed ten places higher than it’s predecessor and reached number 64 on the Billboard charts. However, the chart success meant that the band were forced to try and write more accessible music and Loudness lost much of their fan base in their home country, who felt that they were trying too hard to appeal to the American market. The pressure led to Niihara being fired from the band after they released the "Jealousy" EP, being replaced by American vocalist Mike Vescera, the former singer of Obsession. Unfortunately, the input from Vescera wasn’t the boost the band needed and they found their popularity dwindled in the States. Vescera didn’t stay long with the band either, releasing only two albums and one single before leaving to join Yngwie Malmsteen’s band.
Although the band suffered from lineup changes soon afterwards, as well as the massive decrease in heavy metal’s popularity after the grunge explosion, they soldiered on through the 90s, with Takasaki remaining the sole constant member. Nevertheless, they released no fewer than eight albums in the last decade of the twentieth century, helped by the recruitment of Ezo members Masaki Yamada (vocals) and Hirotsugu Homma (drums,) along with X Japan bassist Taiji Sawada. Although the band never regained their popularity in the States, they continued to have chart success in Japan, including a number two album with their self-titled release in 1992.
In the year 2000, Yamada decided to leave the band but suggested that Takasaki reform the original lineup, since their twentieth anniversary was fats approaching. The reformation of the classic lineup was soon a reality and the band recorded a new studio album, "Spiritual Canoe," with a tour supporting it. The response from the Japanese audience was overwhelming and the reunion, which was originally conceived as a one-off, was deemed extremely successful. The classic lineup then continued to release at least one record every year, including DVDs and compilation albums. Sadly, the momentum of Loudness was halted in 2008 when drummer Munetaka Higuchi was diagnosed with liver cancer, a battle which he tragically did not win, as he passed away in November of that year. Despite the blow, the band bounced back and released a new album in 2009 entitled, "The Everlasting," which was made with drum tracks recorded by Higuchi before his death. Soon after the release, they revealed their new drummer, Masayuki Suzuki, with whom they recorded another new album, "King Of Pain," which was released last year. The band will be coming to the United States this Spring to tour in support of the album and are expected to release another new album later this year.
This article is dedicated to the people of Japan who have been affected by the Sendai earthquake and tsunami.
Loudness - "Crazy Night"
Loudness - "Black Widow"
Loudness - "Never Again"
Loudness - "Hit The Rails"
Loudness - "King Of Pain"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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