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'Rise to Glory' is the new album from Japanese metal stalwarts Loudness, and their first for four years. Still featuring three members from the band's 1981 formation, present are guitarist Akira Takasaki; vocalist Minoru Niihara; and bassist Masayoshi Yamashita; alongside their sticksman for the last 9 years, Masayuki Suzuki.

Opening with an atmospherically eccentric short instrumental piece, the wonderfully innovative '8118', everything sounds fresh and promising. Then, the album kicks off good and proper, with its first vocal-led track in the form of 'Soul on Fire', a full-on retro rock/metal piece which kind of quells the affects of the neat build-up engendered by '8118'. Still, this is what Loudness do, have done for many years, and evidently continue to do.

This retro vibe is true for much of the album. Trad metal motifs are rife. So much so in some songs, that it all sounds a tad too clichéd for its own good in places (even though I'm sure Loudness helped to originally pioneer some of those very clichés). 'Go for Broke', for example, with its opening guitar riff, sounds like it'll burst out into a version of Iron Maiden's 'Two Minutes to Midnight'.

While it might all be a case of "heard it all before", Loudness do at least vary their retro stylings. There are bursts of speed metal with the likes of 'I'm Still Alive' and 'Massive Tornado'; a touch of Candlemass-esque doom on 'Rain'; jazzy-prog-rock on mid-album instrumental number, 'Kama Sutra'; and even a bit of AOR is brought to the table on 'The Voice', with a bridge that sounds like it's been lifted straight out of Sir Cliff Richard's 'Devil Woman', albeit with a vocal delivery that seems to blend the tonality of both Bryan Adams and James Hetfield. And I'm sure there's no cock-related innuendo in the album's title, although the track 'Rise to Glory' itself is preceded by an instrumental number called 'Kama Sutra'.

Despite the general retro, "no frills" nature of the album, it's an enjoyable ride. This is helped by some great playing throughout, especially the axe work from Takasaki. There should be plenty here to satisfy established fans, although I can't see newcomers getting too excited about anything on 'Rise to Glory', apart from, perhaps the two instrumental tracks, which refreshingly stray from the formulaic.
Review by Mark Holmes
26th January 2018
1) 8118; 2) Soul on Fire
3) I'm Still Alive; 4) Go for Broke
5) Until I See the Light
6) The Voice
7) Massive Tornado
8) Kama Sutra
9) Rise to Glory
10) Why and for Whom
11) No Limits
12) Rain; 13) Let's All Rock
"While it might all be a case of "heard it all before", Loudness do at least vary their retro stylings."