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’. Continue reading LOUDNESS – King Of Pain
By Carl Begai
No matter what he does musically, vocalist Minoru Niihara will forever be known first and foremost as the singer for Loudness. Even when Obsession’s Michael Vescera and ex-EZO frontman Masaki Yamada took his place (between 1988 – 2001) Niihara was still regarded as the band’s one true voice. Two years prior to Loudness’ official reunion Niihara launched XYZ-A, perhaps best described as a bare bones garage metal band, arguably the most successful venture under his belt outside the Loudness camp. Like any long time band, however, XYZ-A’s appeal seemed to wane with back-to-back ho-hum albums I.V. (2004) and Wings (2006); neither was particularly bad but both were far from memorable a dozen spins later. Their ten year anniversary record, Learn From Yesterday! Live For Today! Hope For Tomorrow! – a take on Albert Einstein’s famous quote – is a much different and aptly titled story, as Niihara and his bandmates have made a welcome return to the devil-may-care attitude of their earlier records. Top that off with a new major label deal in Japan with Toy’s Factory – former home to Arch Enemy – and XYZ-A are primed for another decade at the very least. Loudness, meanwhile, figures as prominently as ever in Niihara’s life.
Continue reading MINORU NIIHARA – Loud For Life