Loudness - King of pain 3.5/5
2. The king of pain
3. Power of death
4. Death machine
6. Rule the world
7. Straight out of your soul
8. Where am I going?
11. Doctor from hell
12. Hell fire
14. Never comes
Only a year, almost to the date, after impressing us Loudness fanatics with 'The everlasting', Akira and his Devil soldiers of fortune return to please our royal appetites with 'The king of pain'. This is another solid CD showcasing their classic style, while embracing a whole host of other influences from groove to 80s speed metal.
The CD gets underway with "Requiem", an initial instrumental which serves as an homage to the late Munetaka Higuchi, who died of liver cancer last year. Then, the title track kicks in, beginning with intensely painstaking precision drumming, and killer shredding, thereby welcoming new skins man Masayuki "An-Pang" Suzuki aboard this spiritual conundrum. This song is pure pandemonium and it elevates with a "No way out" meets "Road racer" feel. It is followed by "Power of death" which easily could have been lifted off 'Lightning strikes' or 'Hurricane eyes'. This thrash metal anthem suggests that Loudness are like: "The Phoenix rising from ashes to the sky."
Without warning, the well-oiled engine willingly operates, but switches gears with "Death machine", a crushing piece, which reminds me heavily of the riff from White Zombie's "Thunder kiss '65". Even though it has a 90s atmosphere, it still maintains the essence of Loudness, as if inspired by the writings from an CD like 'Terror hakuri' or 'Biosphere'.
"Doodlebug" (WTF!) is just too tuned down, and ambiguous in context and style. I know the CD has a dark tone and ominous vibe all throughout, but "Doodlebug" is just absurd, and pure filler! Thankfully, "Rule the world" picks up the pace again dragging my soul straight to hell.
Listening to this CD is like riding a roller-coaster with all of its fast turns, twists and inversions. The groove-laden slow burner "Straight out of your soul" will placate doomlords; although, lyrically it is pretty apropos in its intent to imply rebellion and free thinking. This flows well into the slow and moody "Where am I going?". On both of these tracks, long stay bassist Masayoshi Yamashita really showcases his abilities. However, for some reason Minoru Niihara feels the need to channel the night songs of Tom Keifer from Cinderella. I guess vocally, you don't know what you got until it's gone. It is a shame to say, but Minoru's voice has gone straight to hell!
The heavy chain rattle of "Emma" emanates with a chaotic infernal chorus, and Rob Zombie meets Glenn Danzig dark castle wail. However, with lyrics like, "Burn me to dust and crush my soul, The lord of hell he reigns...", I truly do not understand the title. Is Emma some satanic bitch on the prowl, who F*U*C*K*'D over the band? Did she somehow break the taboo, is there some accusation of jealousy, or is it all disillusion? Surely, this cannot be about the novel by Jane Austen! At least the guitar intricacies are stellar and wildly entertaining.
Maybe the lyrics to "Naraka" sum up the whole light and shade effects of this CD. "There's no heaven or hell! It's only the creature of you mind. It's all about perception. You're bound in chains for life." This would explain the underlying current for such songs as the crazy "Doctor from hell" and beastly "#666". In some esoteric way, all these songs, and many others attest to the diabolical mindset of modern society and its corrupt leaders. Perhaps "The king of pain" and "Doctor from hell" represent the evil and wicked tendencies of man, which are all dragging us down into the abyss of insanity.
Then again, "Hellfire" is not about the burning underworld, but more about the heated lust of ignited passion. This euphoric enterprise pumps and pulsates with some amazing speed metal measurable moments, and lyrics that toy with your emotions; thereby bringing the whole sleepless interplay to a clockwork climax: "Hellfire", HELLFIRE! Ogre fuck, Ogre fuck, God is in you! Angel fuck, angel fuck the Devil's in you!" I guess these everlasting, rock shock warriors still celebrate those memorable rock 'n' roll crazy nights!
So whether this CD is conceptual, or a string of convoluted theories, the answer never comes clear. Musically, it is juxtaposed joyride of epic proportions, and hallucinogenic distortion. It is loud and raw, and in your face. After several rotations I still feel the thunder burn.
I miss the lack of soloing by axe-master Akira Takasaki, and as I mentioned, Minoru Niihara's voice is shot to hell. If you have followed this band as long as I have, for nigh 3 decades, then you will give the devil soldiers their due, and appreciate it for what it is, namely the metal mad Loudness playing heavier than hell, once and for all.
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