LOUDNESS – Racing (English Limited Edition)


Drakkar Records
Release date: September 29, 2005

User Review
5/10 (1 vote)

There was a time in the States, during the heyday of Metal in the 80’s, when Metal fans would just sponge up as much of the musical genre as possible. Some fans went so far as to listen to Metal that contained vocals in a foreign language, even if it ended up causing raised eyebrow glares from uninformed onlookers (remember this was a time long before listening to a “foreign” band like Rammstein was an acceptable pastime). Enter the Japanese Metal sensation Loudness. Many Metal fans that grew up during the 80’s included Loudness in their Metal diet even if they couldn’t understand the Japanese vocals; after all, some say music is a common language. Now, turn the hands of time forward to the year 2005 and Loudness has just released their nineteenth album (this version in English) and is celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary as a band. Be forewarned you 80’s “Metal Love Children,” though the band line-up is the same, this isn’t your Father’s Thunder In The East Loudness. This is a Loudness built for the 21st Century with a modern day approach, almost akin to a Pantera-like feel and sound.

The compressed sound of the opening guitar solo track, alas a measly twenty-eight seconds, entitled “Racing” alerts you immediately to the fact that this is modern day Loudness. “Exultation” takes over with a heavy Thrash-sounding guitar track and fierce drumming by Higuchi. Some things remain constant, though, as Niihara’s English vocals are just like many old-time Loudness fans will remember them … slightly shrill with weak enunciation. But, like Accept and Rush fans will tell you, such a definitive vocal style helps define a unique, recognizable sound for a band. Takasaki’s guitar solo in this one also goes “haywire” (in a good way), as he seems to still be using a lot of sound effects to keep things different, if not experimental. Some might say Takasaki is still experimenting with all types of guitar sounds, but Loudness fans will profess that he knows exactly what he is doing. “Lunatic” keeps up the same Thrash-like pace set by “Exultation,” while “Live For The Moment” is a bit of a “nice” surprise. It starts with a gnat-like guitar whine that pans across the speakers before kicking into a traditional-80’s Loudness type riff. “Believe It Or Not” starts off with a classic “Headbanger” Loudness riff, that ends up being interspersed with instances of New Wave Metal interludes. The remainder of this fourteen-track release pretty much adheres to the pattern set by “Exultation” with an occasional mid-tempo slowdown moment here and there.

The CD is self-produced by the band, and, whether on purpose or not, has a certain flat recording feel to it. While not awful sounding, it isn’t the Max Norman “in-your-face” sound of the 80’s. To their credit, Loudness did make good use of stereo separation as independent sounds emanate from the right and left speakers simultaneously quite often. Perhaps that’s only fitting as this production style gives the band a grungier, gritty edge. This is also by no means an Akira Takasaki “guitar shred” release. The guitarist does get his meek moments in, but overall stays refrained and keeps the vision of a true band effort alive.

An extra bonus in this edition is the inclusion of a second disc containing the 2004 Rockshocks CD, which is thirteen tracks of re-recorded “Best of Loudness” material. The re-recordings pretty much stay true to the sound of Racing with a raunchier guitar sound. While none of these re-recordings are going to make you forget the originals, the collection is a nice trip down memory lane. The extra CD is also a nice touch to this edition and does raise the value of the CD’s modest price tag substantially. It’s too bad that the track listing for a “Best Of” CD like this one isn’t organized in chronological order of release of the original album.

Bottom line, fans of 80’s Loudness will most likely be disappointed, but the modernized sound might be acceptable even to those fans that are into Pantera, In Flames, and the like. At a minimum, this release should garner interest from a new generation of Metal fans, if they decide to indeed take the plunge.


Minoru Niihara – Vocals
Akira Takasaki – Guitar
Masayoshi Yamashita – Bass
Munetaka Higuchi – Drums


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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