Lovebites' Judgement Day: Japan's rising stars "perfect the power metal recipe"

Japanese power metal heroes Lovebites resurrect the sounds of classic heavy metal on new album Judgement Day.

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As one of the most internationally active acts to come out of the J-rock scene, Lovebites have stood out as purveyors of old-school power metal in Pleaser heels. They’ve sought to channel the most European sound possible, and under the guidance of Finnish mixing/mastering maestros Mikko Karmila and Mika Jussila, they’ve undoubtedly found it. 

That’s no different on their fourth offering, as is immediately apparent the second We Are The Resurrection kicks in. It’s an all-out shred-fest from the get-go, powered by the outrageously talented guitarists, Miyako Watanabe and Midori Tatematsu – a duo with the virtuosity and showmanship to rival Dragonforce’s Sam Totman and Herman Li. With equally talented new bassist Fami, Lovebites have perfected the power metal recipe. 

Judgement Day is a relentlessly fast-paced ode to the likes of Helloween and Stratovarius (try humming the chorus of Black Diamond over almost any of these songs, and it fits), with ear-shatteringly high harmonised vocals from singer Asami, drums that could induce carpal tunnel syndrome just by listening to them and soaring, triumphant choruses. 

What’s perhaps most interesting about Lovebites is how this young band all but reject modernity in order to replicate the sound of NWOBHM and power metal. In many ways, Judgement Day is timeless. The galloping riff in the intro to Wicked Witch could have been written any time between 1980 and today, while standout track Stand And Deliver (Shoot ’Em Down) evokes Girlschool and Warlock. 

Asami’s final, hair-raising wail of ‘Judgement daaay!’ on the title track would make Doro proud. Theirs is a curious journey, but they’ve more than proven themselves. With the pace of the album never varying, however, the second half sounds rather samey. Now that they’ve mastered the power metal formula, some divergence from it would be welcome in future.

Judgement Day is out February 24 via JPU Records.