Loudness Pandemonium
Grade
A
 
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Van Halen

For the uninformed, let me explain a few things first regarding this band. Loudness is a veteran Japanese metal band that was formed in 1981. They first gained foreign recognition with in 1985 with the album Thunder In The East, which was also a huge hit in their native homeland. In an unsuccessful attempt to enter the western market, the band changed a lot of their original aspects ranging from music style to even band members. Despite all that, they remained a little known band at the end of the decade.

During the 90's, Loudness managed to garner an underground following after a string of decent releases, the majority of new fans being from Asian countries. However, the band still struggled from inconsistency and the mediocrity of certain albums such as On The Prowl and the pretty much average Ghetto Machine. But with this new project, Loudness decided to return to their roots and showcase the band's true musical prowess. The result is Pandemonium; the best Loudness album ever. And unfortunately, this great release also serves as a reminder of what might have been had the band never dismantled itself from their original status.

The original band members consist of vocalist Minoru Niihara, guitarist Akira Takasaki, bassist Masayoshi Yamashita and drummer Munetaka Higuichi. The four men returned to collaborate once again in a reunion to show the world what the real Loudness was during its glory years. The time before the band adopted a more commercially-accepted concept to their music and thus tarnished their potentials of being able to rock the center stages of Japan and beyond.

Now on to the review. For the record, Pandemonium is an all-English album, unlike nearly half of their previous works which were mostly in Japanese. The first track is called Ya Stepped On A Mine, a ferocious song which will remind old fans of the Loudness they know nearly two decades ago. It's followed by the outstanding Bloody Doom, a lengthy song with politically-driven lyrics, also the song where Takasaki's Van Halen-esque abilities was at its utmost perfection. And after that is another incredible song, The Pandemonium. This time Niihara shines the most; the return of his gruff vocals last heard about fourteen years ago are definitely eminent throughout. Songs such as What's The Truth?, Chaos and Real Man are very pacy and hard, but the songs' embedded lines of memorable choruses made them all the more enjoyable. And the final song off the track, Snake Venom is a wonderful take on pure metal, although the amusing lyrics are less than bearable.

Now, the songs that interests me most are Suicide Doll and the surprisingly imbued The Candidate, which seemingly attempts to break a new ground on the usual Loudness material that mostly emphazises on highly distinctive tunes and precarious lyrics. This also implies that like usual, the band is still prepared to accept anything new that they think might improve their music. And as long as it's actually good, I'll be content with whatever the band has to offer next time around.

As a final reminder, Pandemonium is a great album, even if you're not the contemporary fan. If you dig classic metal, this is definitely worth checking out. But for the old Loudness fans, the album is a reincarnation and homage to the good old days when metal was at its purest form; raw, hard and memorable. It's awesome.

- - FREEQZ

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