The first Japanese heavy metal band to be signed by a major record label in the U.S., Loudness was formed in the early 80′s and has since enjoyed a lasting career with a huge range of albums to their name.
It’s a shame the band isn’t as well known in the UK because they really do have a lot of good stuff in their discography.
Case and point: Devil Soldier.
The second album to be released by Loudness, Devil Soldier was a short one but definitely helped cement the band as one to look out for. It even won the Best Heavy Metal Album award in Japan back in 1982.
With all that in mind, let’s have a listen.
The first song, “Lonely Player”, kicks off the album Judas Priest-style with a whole lotta energy. It shows off singer Minoru Niihara’s range and develops in an eclectic, unexpected way that, somehow, kinda works like a weirdly improvisational, jazzy take on metal. The second song, “Angel Dust”, has more of a KISS-esque beat to it and starts off strong before delivering a fun, catchy chorus.
Good stuff so far.
“After Illusion” follows and slows things down a little after an explosive start by bringing in a rather beautiful, softer melody and slowly building back up to something heavier and more grand. It’s easily one of the best songs on the album (my personal favourite) and single-handedly should make you fall in love with Loudness’ creativity and melodic flair. It’s definitely a hard one to follow.
The fourth song on the album is “Girl” and, although it’s a fun, rhythmically rich tune with an annoyingly catchy repeating riff, it’s also a bit ineffectual and messy. It’s more of a transition track, really. It’s followed by “Hard Workin’”, an energetic, Iron Maiden-style ride with terrific, complex vocal work and a thoroughly entertaining vibe all the way through. A good time.
“Loving Maid” is next and, although its build-up is a tad forgettable, whenever the song speeds up, it gets genuinely really good. It’s a perfect concert song which should drive those lucky enough to party down in a Loudness mosh pit completely nuts. Not bad. “Rock The Nation” is a very cool song with catchy verses and a memorable anthem-like chorus. It could have done with a little more of a punch to it but it still works and gets the job done.
Finally, we have the title song, “Devil Soldier”, a seven minute-long experimental track which opens with a fab galloping rhythm packed with attitude and, after a short break, changes completely, becoming a different song altogether. You never know where this one’s going, calling back to the jazzy madness of “Lonely Player”, but it does brilliantly to keep your attention throughout. Eventually, the song changes once more to become a slower, sexier Led Zeppelin-style ballad with solos and the odd moan but it soon builds back up to a thrilling, epic finale.
That last song is all over the place but Loudness make it work remarkably… somehow.
Overall, while the band has much more to offer than Devil Soldier, it’s still a very solid outing for Loudness and, if you’re interested in finding out about this madcap Japanese 80′s metal band then it’s a pretty good place to start.
I give it 4 Drunk Hatters out of 5.
Check it out