|Nippon Columbia, Atco, Warner Music Group, Rooms, Tokuma Japan, Wounded Bird
| Akira Takasaki
| Mike Vescera
Loudness (Japanese: ラウドネス, Hepburn: Raudonesu) is a Japanese heavy metal band formed in 1981 by guitarist Akira Takasaki and drummer Munetaka Higuchi. They were the first Japanese metal act signed to a major label in the United States. Loudness subsequently released 26 studio albums (five licensed in America) and nine live albums by 2014 and reached the Billboard Top 100 during their heyday as well as charting on Oricon dozens of times. Despite numerous changes in its line-up, with Takasaki the sole constant member, the band continued their activities throughout the 1990s, finally reuniting the original line-up in 2000. This incarnation released a further seven albums until November 30, 2008, when original drummer Munetaka Higuchi died from liver cancer at a hospital in Osaka at age 49. He was replaced with Masayuki Suzuki.
The band was formed by guitarist Akira Takasaki, bassist Hiroyuki Tanaka and drummer Munetaka Higuchi, coming off the split-up of the rock band Lazy in Tokyo in February 1980.The three musicians, Takasaki in particular, were dissatisfied with the musical direction of their previous band and wanted to test their abilities in new areas. The rising movement of new Japanese heavy metal acts (Bow Wow, Anthem, etc.) fit the aspirations and musical tendencies of the young musicians. Nevertheless, bassist Tanaka soon renounced to be part of the new metal group, searching success in the anime soundtrack business with the band Neverland. Takasaki recruited his childhood friend Masayoshi Yamashita as bass player and, after a few auditions, the band found a singer in former Earthshaker member Minoru Niihara. He was a university student at the time.
With this line-up, Loudness signed to the major record label Nippon Columbia and released their debut album, The Birthday Eve , in November 1981. Despite the reduced presence of the heavy metal genre in the Japanese media at the timeand the lack of a single to launch the album, The Birthday Eve and the concerts to support it were quite successful. The flashy shred guitar work of Takasaki and the solid musicianship of the other band members soon became a trademark of their performances in the studio and on stage. The band, excited by the good sales response in Japan, produced four studio albums in rapid succession, while guitarist Takasaki found the time to start his solo career, releasing the album Tusk of Jaguar , which the other group members played in.
In 1983, after recording their third album The Law of Devil's Land , they embarked on their first United States tour, followed by a tour in Europe.They moved to Europe to record their fourth album Disillusion , performing several concerts there, as documented in their second video Eurobounds . As an attempt to break in the international scene, the band re-recorded the vocal tracks of the album Disillusion in English language, releasing their first album outside Japan in 1984.
Finally in 1985, through the management of Twisted Sister co-manager Joe Gerber, they signed an international record deal with Atco Records. Such an achievement was the first in Japanese music history for a heavy metal band. Their fifth album, the Max Norman–produced Thunder in the East , was recorded in the USA and was successful. 74 in the Billboard album chart, relying much on the strength of the single "Crazy Nights", whose video earned some rotation play on MTV.It was their first American release and it peaked at No.
Their sixth album, Lightning Strikes , was once again produced by Max Norman and charted at No. 64, receiving very good reviews and making Loudness a worldwide attraction. The album was released in Japan in a different version, under the name Shadows of War . Their success in the United States had pushed the group to write more commercial pop-metal tunes, like the single "Let It Go", which was quite different from what they had done in all their previous albums. Following this new and apparently chart-rewarding direction, the band lost some of their supportive Japanese fan base, which did not accept the homologation to the US glam metal sound.
Their seventh album Hurricane Eyes was released in 1987 worldwide with English lyrics. A Japanese version was subsequently released only in Japan later in the year with Niihara singing most of the lyrics in Japanese. The album was produced by the famous producer and sound engineer Eddie Kramer, who had worked with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Kiss. The song "So Lonely", a reworked version of "Ares Lament" from the 1984 album Disillusion, was instead produced by Andy Johns, another world-famous producer. This was the last Loudness album to enter the US Billboard 200 chart, where it remained for 4 weeks, peaking at No. 190.
Following the Jealousy EP in 1988, singer Niihara left the band, after producer Max Norman's suggestion that an English speaking vocalist could help the band break through in the American market.The chosen American vocalist was former Obsession frontman Mike Vescera. Minoru Niihara continued his singing career in Japan as frontman of the metal bands Ded Chaplin, Sly and X.Y.Z.→A, besides releasing a solo album. The new Loudness line-up recorded two studio albums, Soldier of Fortune in 1989 and On the Prowl in 1991. The latter included only three new songs among remakes of older material translated and sung by Vescera. Despite extensive tours and strong support from their label, the new albums did not improve the band's status in America and, on the contrary, further diminished the Japanese fanbase of Loudness. After the release of the single "Slap in the Face", Vescera left Loudness during their 1991 American tour, to join Yngwie J. Malmsteen's band. He was replaced by former Ezo vocalist Masaki Yamada to finish the tour. The change of personnel did not influence the success of the band, because the sudden predilection of the American audience for the gritty and aggressive sound of grunge and alternative rock bands at the beginning of the 90s, had already de facto put an end to the American adventure of Loudness, as well as to the careers of many other bands from the glam and heavy metal scene.
Soon after their return to Japan, Yamashita also left the band and was replaced by former X bassist, Taiji Sawada. This line-up produced the self-titled album Loudness in 1992, which charted in Japan at No. 2, becoming their highest charting album in Japan, and the 1993 live album Once and for All . The sound and the music presented in those works is heavier and more aggressive than in the albums produced in America and marks the beginning of a new phase in the career of Akira Takasaki, main composer of the band.
In 1993, the band was again on the verge of falling apart, with the departure of both Higuchi, who went to play in Niihara’s Sly, and Sawada, who founded D.T.R. Takasaki remained the only founding member, with a band to reinvent. In this period he traveled to India and converted to Buddhism, and found the right motivations to not disband Loudness.He convinced Yamada to stay as singer and, with his help, recruited former Ezo drummer Hirotsugu Homma to the band. The trio produced in 1994 Heavy Metal Hippies , a transitional studio album, where Takasaki tried to mix the old Loudness sound with grunge and world music influences. To bring the band on tour, Takasaki completed the roster with Naoto Shibata, bassist and leader of the then disbanded Japanese heavy metal band Anthem. This new incarnation of Loudness released three other studio albums ( Ghetto Machine , Dragon and Engine ) and one live album ( Loud 'n' Raw ) between 1994 and 1999. The sound of these releases is quite different from the band’s earlier works, with Takasaki’s compositions veering strongly towards groove metal with heavy psychedelic and ethnic influences. Homma’s double bass drum beat is another important difference from the earlier Loudness sound. The band toured regularly in Asia and went to Europe, where they participated to the 1999 edition of the Dynamo Open Air Festival.
In 2000, Yamada expressed his wish to quit Loudness and suggested a reunion with the original line-up to celebrate the band's 20th Anniversary.Takasaki agreed with him and dismissed Homma and Shibata, asking at the same time Higuchi, Niihara and Yamashita to rejoin the band for the event. The original members of the band reunited in 2000, releasing the album Spiritual Canoe and conducting a reunion tour. Although intended to be a one-time event, the popularity of the band's reunion in their native Japan was overwhelming and the band decided to continue recording and live activities. At least one studio album and one DVD release have followed every year since the 2000 reunion, in addition to one-off recordings, like 2005's theme song for famed K-1 fighter Musashi ("The Battleship Musashi").
In the new Loudness studio albums, the band tries again the fusion of different musical influences with the melodic metal sound of the band from the 1980s, adopting very different styles of composition.The result is often a rather heterogeneous collection of songs, going from classic heavy metal sound to speed metal, thrash metal and grunge, with ethnic and even hip hop influences. The band's popularity remains very high in Japan, where they continued touring every year. Loudness even tried a new approach to the international market, with the reissue of the albums RockShocks and Racing in English language and an international tour that brought the band back to the US, as documented in the DVD Loudness in America '06.
Tragedy would strike in April 2008, just two months after releasing the album Metal Mad , Loudness went on hiatus when drummer Munetaka Higuchi was diagnosed with liver cancer.They played with Mötley Crüe in October 2008 at the Greater Tokyo Area's Saitama Super Arena, with session drummer Kozo Suganuma (Fragile, Ded Chaplin) filling in for Higuchi. On November 30, 2008 Munetaka died from his illness at a hospital in Osaka at age 49. In December 2008, the band issued the following statement on their website about the death of original drummer Munetaka Higuchi:
"Munetaka Higuchi passed away from liver cancer at a hospital in Osaka city in the morning of 30 November 2008. With permission from his family, we are officially announcing his passing. We realize this announcement came late and we apologize for that. With his and his family's request, a wake and funeral will be held privately. For the press and the fans, we will make sure that you have an opportunity to say your goodbyes to him at later time. For the last eight months since he was diagnosed with liver cancer, he had been in and out of the hospital several times for the treatment. For the entire time, he was very positive and bravely fighting this disease. He had this strong desire to come back to the stage to play for the fans again. His death came very suddenly and was a very immature one. He lived his life to the fullest as a rock drummer who always gave us hopes and dreams. His heart and soul for music will be succeeded for a long time to come. Munetaka, we are grateful for all your hard work and the great 49 years you lived with us here in this world. We would like to express our appreciation for all your condolences sent here for him."
The band confirmed through Takasaki that, despite the recent loss of drummer Munetaka Higuchi, they would be recording a new studio album titled The Everlasting ,which was released in May 2009. The new material was based on drum tracks recorded by Higuchi before his death. Upon the album's release, they introduced their new drummer in Masayuki Suzuki. The band went on tour in 2009, presenting only material from their first four albums and announced their following album titled King of Pain , which was released in May 2010. Also in 2010, Loudness was featured at the Bang Your Head!!! festival in Germany and did a brief European tour. Loudness returned to America for their 30th Anniversary tour in May and June 2011.
In 2010 they recorded "The Eternal Soldiers" to be the theme song for Mazinkaiser SKL , which was released as a single later that year.
In an interview with Guitar World and posted on YouTube on July 11, 2011, Akira Takasaki commented on King of Pain's lack of solos and speed. He said that the reason for this was the band's desire to introduce Masayuki Suzuki, their new drummer. Takasaki also stated that the next album's playing would be "much more speedy, much more aggressive" than King of Pain.Loudness released Eve to Dawn on September 14, 2011.
Another album, 2012, followed on August 22, 2012. Due to a scheduling conflict with Niihara's side project X.Y.Z.→A, Michael Vescera was scheduled to perform as guest vocalist for Loudness on April 14, 2013 at the Live N' Louder Festival in São Paulo, Brazil, which would mark the first time he has sung with the band in over 20 years.However, Vescera was unable to attend the event, and Hibria vocalist Iuri Sanson ended up filling in the vocalist spot.
The band released their 26th studio album titled The Sun Will Rise Again on June 4, 2014. Loudness played a song from the album called "Immortality" on the 2014 Monsters of Rock cruise.
The group teamed up with Outrage to hold the first Loud∞Out Fest on May 2, 2015.The second installment was held on May 1, 2016 and also included Anthem and Lost Society in addition to the two namesake acts. The 2017 edition of the fest was called a "tour" and saw two concerts on May 4 and 6 that included Galneryus.
In January 2018, the band released their 27th studio album, Rise to Glory . However, in February, Suzuki was hospitalized with a mild stroke. The band tapped Ra:IN drummer Ryuichi Nishida to fulfill the tour until Suzuki's full recovery and return in September 2018. The end of 2021 brought a new record entitled Sunburst .
On the Prowl is the ninth studio album released by the Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It is also their second and last album with American vocalist Mike Vescera, before his leaving to join Yngwie Malmsteen's band. On the Prowl is mainly a compilation of self-covers of songs from early Loudness' albums, containing only three new songs written by the band (♠). However, Mike Vescera translated and adapted the lyrics of the old songs written by former vocalist Minoru Niihara, to be sung in English.
Minoru Niihara is a Japanese singer. He is the original and current lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Loudness.
Munetaka Higuchi was a Japanese musician and record producer. He is best known as the original drummer of the heavy metal band Loudness, but first rose to prominence as a member of Lazy in the 1970s.
The Birthday Eve is the first studio album by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was released in 1981 only in Japan. The 24bit digitally remastered Japanese limited edition CD includes two additional tracks not on the original release, coming from the first single of the band. The success of the album was measured by Loudness' sold out debut concert at Asakusa International Theater, in front of an audience of 2.700.
The Law of Devil's Land is the third studio album by the Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was released in 1983 only in Japan and later distributed in Europe by Roadrunner Records. The CD reissue of 2005 contains two extra songs coming from the English version of the band's third single.
Disillusion is the fourth studio album by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was recorded, mixed and mastered in London, England, in 1983 and released at the beginning of 1984. The sound engineer chosen for the recording sessions was the expert Julian Mendelsohn, who had previously worked with acts like Yes, Elton John, Jimmy Page and Bob Marley. The original Japanese version was licensed and released by Music for Nations in the UK and Roadrunner Records in Europe. Attention by major US labels for the band and the need to make their work accessible to Western audiences, prompted a new release of the album with vocal tracks sung in English on July 1, 1984. The English version opened the album with the instrumental "Anthem " by Akira Takasaki, which was missing in the original Japanese release.
Hurricane Eyes is the seventh studio album by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was released in 1987 worldwide with standard English lyrics. A "Japanese Version" was subsequently released only in Japan later in the year with Niihara singing most of the lyrics in Japanese. The album was produced by the famous producer and sound engineer Eddie Kramer, who had worked with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Kiss. The song "So Lonely", a reprise of "Ares Lament" from the album Disillusion of 1984, was instead produced by Andy Johns, another world-famous producer. This was the last Loudness album to enter the US Billboard 200 chart, where it remained for 4 weeks, peaking at No. 190.
Jealousy is an EP by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was released in May 1988 only in Japan, a market that the band felt to have neglected in favour of American audiences. It would also mark the final recording with the classic line-up, until Spiritual Canoe in 2001. Singer Minoru Niihara left the band after the end of the domestic tour promoting this release. The song "Long Distance Love" would later be reworked for the On the Prowl album, with vocals by American singer Mike Vescera.
Odin is an EP by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. The EP was released in Japan in 1985, with and without the instrumental tracks. All tracks on the EP were included on the soundtrack of the Japanese anime film Odin: Photon Sailer Starlight, released that same year.
Heavy Metal Hippies is the eleventh studio album by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was recorded and mixed by Chris Tsangarides and released in 1994 only in Japan. After the defection of bassist Taiji Sawada, Akira Takasaki played both the lines of bass and guitar on the album. In addition, drummer and band co-founder Munetaka Higuchi was replaced by Hirotsugu Homma.
Biosphere is the seventeenth studio album by the Japanese metal band Loudness. It was released only in Japan, in 2002.
Racing is the nineteenth studio album by the Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was released in 2004 in Japan. On April 6, 2005, the band released the English version of the album, the first entirely sung in English since 2001. An international edition was released on August 9, 2005, published by Drakkar, with a different track listing, a different cover and little differences in the production of the solo parts. The album cover marks the return of the band's classic logo, which was originally used from 1985 to 1988. A special international release of the album contains as bonus tracks the entire Rockshocks album of self-covers from the 1980s.
Breaking the Taboo is the twentieth studio album by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was released in 2006 only in Japan.
Metal Mad is the twenty-first studio album by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was released in 2008 only in Japan. It would be the last album before Munetaka Higuchi's death in November 2008.
The Everlasting is the twenty-second studio album by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was released in 2009 only in Japan, after the death of original drummer Munetaka Higuchi, whose pre-recorded drum tracks were used on this album. It was also 15th and last album recorded by the original line-up. The song "I Wonder" introduces new drummer Masayuki Suzuki. The album also features a quasi-return to their 1980s sound in "Flame of Rock" and "I Wonder". The cover artwork is inspired by a Thailand's sculpture called "Budda Head in Tree".
Eurobounds is the second home video released by the Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was released on BETA, VHS, Laserdisc and VHD formats in 1984. This release documented the first European tour of the band, with footage from concerts in England, Holland, Belgium and West Germany. Columbia Records remastered the video and re-released it in DVD format in 2000. A live album with the sound track of the DVD was also released in 2000, with the same cover art of the DVD.
The Soldier's Just Came Back is the fifth live album by the Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. It was released in 2001 only in Japan and recorded during the successful Spiritual Canoe tour with the original line-up. At the same time a VHS with the videotape of the concert was released by Nippon Columbia.
Rockshocks is an album of self-covers by the Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. The album, released in Japan in 2004, contains tracks taken from the first five studio album of the band from the 1980s, played again with a more modern sound and different musical arrangements than the originals. The album was published in the USA in 2006 by Crash Records, with three bonus tracks taken from the album Racing: "Exultation", "Lunatic" and "R.I.P.".
Eve to Dawn is the twenty-fourth studio album by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness, released on September 14, 2011. The album reached number 36 on the Oricon chart.
"Crazy Night" is the fourth single by Japanese heavy metal band Loudness, from their 1985 album Thunder in the East. Written by lead vocalist Minoru Niihara and guitarist Akira Takasaki and produced by Max Norman, the single was released by Nippon Columbia on December 1, 1984, in Japan and by Atco Records on November 1, 1985. The song was the band's big break in the American metal scene and has since become their signature song.