LOUDNESS – Thunder In The East

  • 7.5/10
    LOUDNESS - Thunder In The East - 7.5/10


Label: Atlantic
Release date: January 21, 1985

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0/10 (0 votes)

Japan, the bizarre land of crazy TV game shows, karaoke and a kind of sport consisting of two overweight individuals wearing diapers and struggling each other in a circle.

From this cultural background, one that is completely different than that of the English speaking countries, where Heavy Metal was invented and perfected, came Loudness – a full-on Heavy Metal outfit aiming at the top. Formed in 1981, this band had released four albums prior to this one (including a live album) and many more after it. Thunder in the East Is considered to be Loudness’ breakthrough album, the one that introduced these Japanese Heavy Metal pioneers to the west and brought them worldwide fame.

This album brings a more accessible sound, with a polished, crystal clear production that’s completely different than that achieved on their previous albums. The bass guitar is not as audible but the drums sound much more clear and defined, as does the guitar. Unfortunately, this sound update takes away some of the rawness that characterized Loudness’ earlier sound.

The first track (“Crazy Night”) is undoubtedly the best and most memorable of the songs on this release. Its catchy chorus is one of those song parts that cement themselves in your brain, with the crowd shouting “MZetA! MZetA!” part seals the deal, making it the perfect rock anthem. This song in particular was Loudness’ biggest success in America and was released as a single.

Thunder in the East marks the first time that Loudness used English in their songs. A heavy Japanese accent is evident in vocalist Minoru Nihara’s singing, though his voice is powerful and fits the music. For the most part, the lyrical themes revolve around the usual Rock concert excitement (“I’m gonna rock you, I’m gonna shock you” in “Like Hell”), love (“we could be together”), rebellion (“you try to tell me what’s right for me!” in “Clockwork Toy”) and other similar material. These folks keep it simple; one might guess it’s due to the level of English speaking amongst the band. In fact, Minoru’s English is so poor that it provides some very amusing moments, most notably this phrase from the song “No Way Out”, which almost brings out tears:

“Watching the hours crack
Still have that feelin’
Darkness attacks the wall
I hit the ceiling”

However, this style is rather an advantage, but some listeners, who prefer their Metal to be on the more serious side, might see this as a big loss of appeal.

Musically, except for the attempt at combining a more progressive approach to songwriting in “Run For Your Life”, the music on this album is rather simple, technically. Songs such as “Like Hell” and “Get Away” are built of in-your-face Hard Rock riffs, and they are a prime example of the complexity (or lack thereof) of the guitar riffs on Thunder From The East. Don’t expect anything spectacular from the drumming here; it doesn’t stray from the basics and lacks interesting, innovative passages. However, don’t let this simplicity mislead you into thinking this album has no technical treats – all the songs contain amazing, lightning fast guitar solos that demonstrate guitarist Akira Takasaki’s high technical skills and musicianship. This guy simply takes no prisoners.

If you’re a Heavy Metal veteran, or even half aware of the legendary bands that dominated this subgenre during the 80s, you probably heard most of it done before. During many parts of this album it seemed to me that Loudness don’t just pay homage to their American and British counterparts, they simply imitate them. Close similarities to Judas Priest, Manowar, Iron Maiden make it hard to enjoy some of the riffs. Nevertheless, despite all these shortcomings, Loudness deliver a sturdy effort with a good production and several memorable moments. If not for the heavy Japanese accent, it would have been hard to guess in a million years that this album had emerged from the empire of the rising sun. It sounds as American as a cheeseburger eaten in a Cadillac under the Statue of Liberty by a baseball player. What other proof can you really ask for, that shows Rock ‘N Roll is universal?


  • Daniel Sherman

    Daniel was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Rishon Le-Zion, in Central Israel. He listens to almost all types of metal but his absolute favorite ones are Old School Thrash, Old School Floridian Death, Blackened Death and Heavy Metal. Bands that influenced him a lot musically are Metallica, Dissection, Slayer and Iced Earth. At 16, he picked up the electric guitar, after playing the classical one for a while. By that time, he was listening to bands like Kreator, Death, Bolt Thrower and In Flames, and soon moving on to bands like Dissection, Necrophobic and Sacramentum. In 2009, he joined Switchblade, founded by another ex-member of Metal Express Radio, Lior Stein, as a rhythm guitarist.

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