1. The Crusade
2. Break The Wall
3. Above The Black Sea
4. Under The Red Sky
Could we be on the verge of witnessing a new wave of Japanese heavy metal? If all-female quintet Lovebites are anything to go by, then that answer is a resounding yes. In just over 12 months, we’ve seen this rising phenomenon drop an EP and a full-length debut, Awakening From Abyss – an album so rich in its blazing neo-classical technicality and windmill-inducing ferocity that it captured the hearts of not only fans but revered iron maidens such as Nita Strauss and Lzzy Hale. Since then, some truly exuberant live performances at London’s Hyper Japan and hallowed Camden turf The Underworld have heightened both interest and expectations – and let’s face it, a Metal Hammer Golden Gods nomination for Best New Band is no easy feat in a category that’s literally overflowing with stellar talent.
This youthful outfit are now hoping to continue that infatuation with follow-up mini-album Battle Against Damnation, and it’s evident on first listen that Lovebites have a firm grasp on and understanding of the hallmarks of elite power metal. Listening to the shred-fuelled assault that gives way to frontwoman Asami’s soaring vocals on lead single The Crusade is a fist-pumping thrill, and those extended solos doff their propulsive cap to 80s NWOBHM. Recalling early Metallica, Break The Wall goes absolutely hell for leather amongst a tsunami of thrash-inflected riffs, breakneck tempos and anthemic melodies to make for the heaviest moment on this brief but galloping ride, while grandiose metal-themed love letters Above The Black Sea and Under The Red Sky are the most telling evidence of these heroines’ penchant for employing a decidedly more European sound. In the battle for Japanese metal supremacy, Lovebites have been awakened – and they’re ready to lead the pack.