Carl Begai

LOUDNESS – King Of Pain

by on Jun.08, 2010, under Reviews

It seems that not even death is capable of slowing Loudness down. King Of Pain marks the band’s second album since the passing of original drummer Munetaka Higuchi in November 2008 – a victim of liver cancer – their first with new man Masayuki “Ampan” Suzuki behind the kit. It’s a fitting tribute to Higuchi’s characteristic push (according to frontman Minoru Niihara) to make things louder and heavier with every new record. Having regained their footing since previous outing The Everlasting – a cold album overall featuring songs pieced together using archive Higuchi recordings – Loudness unleash a surprising ‘80s flavoured rip and tear on King Of Pain. It’s not the step back into the realms of nostalgia so many fans are clamouring for but it definitely pays tribute to the past here and there, making it the band’s strongest album since the 2001 reunion record, Spiritual Canoe. Lead-off track ‘The King Of Pain, ‘Power Of Death’ and ‘Rule The World’ feature classic ‘80s Akira Takasaki riffs and tones alongside Niihara’s much improved and grittier vocals, the first song swiping a page from the band’s Shadows Of War / Lightning Strikes era, the others a tip of the hat to Loudness staples ‘Crazy Doctor’ and ‘Esper’. Takasaki hasn’t been big wall-to-wall shred for the past decade, so while he does lay down some fretboard acrobatics the band’s focus is on the almighty groove. Hardly a shock to anyone who has been paying attention over he last several years. ‘Doodlebug’, ‘Naraka’, ‘Doctor From Hell’ and ‘Death Machine’ crush with Pantera-like abandon, the band drips metalized grunge on ‘Straight Out Of Our Soul’ (which isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds), offers some soul on ‘Where Am I Going?’ (featuring additional lead vocals by Takasaki) and ‘Never Comes’, and pulls off a classic bit of Machine Head-esque dynamics on ‘Hell Fire’.

Fans will be very aware of Suzuki’s presence, as Higuchi had his own unique sound and style, but it can be said that he puts in a performance worthy of the Loudness legacy. Niihara, meanwhile, binds King Of Pain together, the glue that’s loaded with hooks and melody to make what comes off occasionally as un-Loudness-like behaviour comfortable and worth further attention. The only real downside to the album is the length, as 13 songs make it somewhat long in the tooth. Keeping it to 10 or 11 would have served the band much better, but I suppose that’s what programmable CD players are for.

From a shameless fanboy perspective, King Of Pain ranks up top with Spritual Canoe and the severely underrated self-titled album from 1992 (with ex-EZO frontman Masaki Yamada on vocals) as killer “latter day” Loudness records. Whether you’re able to get into is hinges on leaving the ‘80s on the shelf and being able to appreciate the fact that 25+ years into their career Loudness are still able to mop the floor with the vast majority of young bands that think they’re something special because MTV and VH1 said so.

Fave tracks: ‘The King Of Pain’, ‘Power Of Dearh’, ‘Death Machine’, ‘Rule The World’, ‘Hell Fire’.

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4 Comments for this entry

  • Vincent

    Hi Carl! Nice review here, i’ll definitely check out this album.

    I am pretty sure I will like it, since you seem to have similar tastes to mine: Yes, albums with Masaki Yamada are severely underrated, those and Spiritual Canoe are in fact the only albums I listen to on a regular basis.

    I have been very disappointed by Loudness’ last efforts, messy and not melodic at all.

    I always thought Niihara produced much better music with Sly. Yamada’s insane vocals, on the other hand, fitted Takasaki’s new guitar style and the band was much more original, and musically united during that period.

    Anyway, all that babbling to say i’m going to buy this disk on your recommandation :D

  • Carl

    Thanks for yor faith. I really do enjoy the album, even after dozens of listens (always a good sign ;-)). I hope it lives up to your expectations.

    And SLY ruled. I still listen to Dreams Of Dust to this day…

  • Vincent

    After having listenned to it, I must say some of the songs rock, the best one being Power of Death.

    However, overall, the album isn’t as solid as Spiritual Canoe is.

    As a side note, I’ll go see Loudness live on saturday! I live in Shanghai, China, and they are playing in a music festival in a closeby city!

    Can’t wait, 1st time ever seeing them live :D

  • Dan

    I haven’t heard a Loudness album since “Solder of Fortune,” which was just okay, IMO. I really like “King of Pain!” I’m happy to see these guys are still kicking it!

    P.S. You’re right, these new bands just can’t touch the old-school! They don’t even come close.

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