review - 07.25.2018 20:01

Thirty-seven years later, the thunder in the east rumbles on.

Japanese metal has enjoyed an unprecedented spike in popularity of late, propelled by BABYMETAL’s surprise global breakthrough, and YOSHIKI’s ongoing roll-out of X JAPAN documentary “We Are X”. However, while the visceral retrospective rightfully paints X JAPAN as Japan’s biggest metal act, there’s a danger some casual audiences could mistake them as the godfathers of J-metal at large. Lest we forget, around the same time X debuted in 1985, LOUDNESS’s Thunder in the East was charting Stateside. Now in their thirty-seventh year, the heavy metal stalwarts' 28th studio album was released worldwide on January 26th via earMUSIC.

Unusually for a LOUDNESS album, RISE TO GLORY is something of a slow-burner at first. Curtain-raiser Soul On Fire seems a curious choice to receive the music video treatment as, despite a decent melody and vocal performance, Akira Takasaki’s solo in a non-event. Other early offerings are similarly tame. Go For Broke shows signs of promise, but is ultimately let down by clichéd lyrics and an absent chorus.

The album shifts up a gear with Massive Tornado, boosted by a welcome injection of heaviness and an extended, shreddier-than-usual solo from Takasaki. This is followed by Kama Sutra, a multi-textured guitar odyssey worthy of Buckethead, topped off by a drum solo from Masayuki Suzuki. This hot streak lasts as far as No Limits, after which things cool off again. Closing track Rain is a passable power ballad, if not quite the big finish fans might’ve hoped for.

RISE TO GLORY’s contents are another testament to the fact LOUDNESS songs live or die on the quality of Akira Takasaki’s guitar work. Rain is a demonstration of how the man can turn around any song with a good solo, and given frontman Minoru Niihara’s continued reliance of lyrical clichés, LOUDNESS songs rarely live long in the memory without a good riff behind them. Happily, the album shows no signs the band are trying to keep pace with modern tastes or trends. Frankly, RISE TO GLORY sounds like it could’ve been made any time in the last twenty-five years.

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