Devil Soldier – Album Review

Loudness

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 🙂

SlashersSlashersSlashers

The Passenger – Song Of The Day

The PassengerWritten by Iggy Pop and Ricky Gardiner, “The Passenger” was actually released as a B-side to the single “Success”, the one song to get its own release from the 1977 album Lust For Life. It’s a shame that the album’s success was tainted by the death of Elvis Presley that same year since that meant a lot of The King’s classic hits were re-released at the same time and that Lust For Life, one of Pop’s very best, did well but not as well as it could have done.

“The Passenger” is a darker song with a certain nomadic nostalgia to it and a repetitive (in a good way) rhythm which hypnotises you into its cool, moody realm. David Bowie joins Iggy in the backing vocals for the chorus. The song received several covers over time, most significantly by Siouxsie And The Banshees and Michael Hutchence, though many bands played it live from R.E.M. to Deborah Harry.

Smooth Criminal – Song Of The Day

Smooth CriminalIt’s been a long time coming but finally, Michael Jackson gets a Song Of The Day. The song in question is none other than the classic “Smooth Criminal” from the iconic 1987 album Bad. It’s an upbeat, dancy tune with a devilishly catchy melody and an irresistible rhythm and yet, thinking about the lyrics, it’s a pretty dark song. I mean, I don’t know what you guys think but I don’t think Annie’s ok, whoever she is. The song got its own little video in the movie Moonwalker and, with the exception of a Michael Jackson Autobot, it ended up being the coolest part of that entire flick. Despite that weird moment near the end where everyone kinda loses it…

Heart Of Glass – Song Of The Day

BlondieReleased in 1979 after appearing on Blondie‘s album Parallel Lines one year prior, “Heart Of Glass” topped the charts but unnerved the band’s New Wave rock fans as the use of a more disco sound looked like it meant the band was becoming over-commercialised. Maybe had the original lyrics “pain in the ass” been kept in instead of “heart of glass” that could have appeased those worried listeners. As it stands, it’s one of Blondie’s most instantly recognisable hits and it’s damn good, disco or no disco.

Andy Warhol – Song Of The Day

Andy WarholFrom David Bowie‘s 1971 album Hunky Dory, “Andy Warhol” was an acoustic track which opened with a mess of crazy sound effects and some studio chatter involving Bowie explaining to his producer how to say Warhol’s name correctly. It’s about as quirky as you’d expect an Andy Warhol song to start and then the cool latin riff kicks in. It’s funny to think that Warhol himself didn’t like the song and that, much later, Bowie would actually play the artist in the movie Basquiat. It’s a unique, really fun tune and I definitely recommend it.

Under The Bridge – Song Of The Day

Under The BridgeThe second song from The Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ fifth album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, “Under The Bridge” is still, to date, arguably the band’s most melancholic track. Unlike a lot of the songs the band were releasing at the time, this one wasn’t particularly funky and it definitely wasn’t a party song. It was hugely entertaining, for sure, but it was far more about the melody and the lyrics than just another fun, dancy, mindless beat. Here was a heartfelt, bittersweet love letter to Los Angeles which felt surprisingly intimate and relatable. One of The Red Hots’ unavoidable masterpieces.

Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) – Song Of The Day

The First Edition

It’s weird to think that Jerry Lee Lewis once recorded this song and wasn’t fond if it at all because it really is one cool, hard to screw up tune. “Just Dropped In” was written by Mickey Newbury in the 60’s and was a big hit for Kenny Rogers-led band The First Edition back in 1968. The song was originally meant to be a warning against the effects of LSD despite having a funky, upbeat tone and being kinda trippy itself. It was famously used in the Coen Brothers movie The Big Lebowski in what remains one of the most glorious movie dream sequences out there.