LOVEBITES — Judgement Day (review)

LOVEBITES — Judgement Day album cover Album · 2023 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
I never cease to be amazed by the Japanese power metal act Lovebites. Ever since they made their debut with The Lovebites EP (2017), which quickly turned into the debut album Awakening From Abyss (2017), they've proved consistently that they can play with, if not outplay, the best of them and have a sound that is precisely what power metal should be about: fast, melodic, heavy and most importantly varied in influences that add trappings that range from symphonic to thrash metal.

For my money there is no finer modern power metal act.

Lovebites had a bit of a hiccup in in 2021 when bassist Miho, who was also a founder of the band and wrote a fair bit of their material, decided to walk away. The band went on hiatus, but returned to activity in 2022 and brought in new bassist Fami, who joins Asami (vocals), Midori (guitars), Miyako (guitars, keyboards) and Haruna (drums) on Judgement Day (2023), the first album of the new line-up. As usual the band is joined by Mao of the band Light Bringer as a sixth unofficial musician and songwriting collaborator.

As the writer behind some of Lovebites thrashier material, one might wonder if Miho's departure may be felt in the band's sound, but it turns out that this isn't the case at all as the album includes the track Dissonance among its power metal numbers, a thrash track, while rawer speed metal elements also remain in evidence amongst the melody driven power metal that remains the core of their sound. The lead guitar work contains a neoclassical edge adding further flavour while symphonic elements add a tasteful but never domineering bombast to some parts of the album, notably the title track, which is one of their best songs to date, but this feels like an extra strong effort from Lovebites all round, with a claim to being their best yet. I wasn't immediately sold on the gang vocal heavy Stand And Deliver (Shoot ‘em Down), but I've become rather fond of that track with subsequent listens to the album. It's sure to be a crowd pleaser in their live show.

Power metal as a genre often gets a bad rep, which as a big power metal fan I find disappointing and even unfair, even as I admit that there are some bands that earn the genre it's reputation for cheese. Lovebites though are one band that, even if you don't usually listen to power metal, you should check out and Judgement Day would be an excellent album to start with. The band plays about as aggressive as the genre gets without becoming fully speed or thrash metal; there is variety that gives their songs the power to stand out from each other; the musicianship is impeccable. The voice of their singer Asami would be fairly described as accented which is noticeable as the band sings in English rather than their native Japanese, but her voice is great and there's some incredible power there.

Judgement Day is the power metal album to beat in 2023, for my money. I've held off writing this review for quite a while since the album was released, but I haven't heard anything yet that has invalidated that statement. It's also in the running for my Album of the Year 2023. I've played their debut album over thirty times since it first came out which is a lot for someone like me, who listens to a lot of different bands. The group's following albums Clockwork Immortality (2018) and Electric Pentagram (2020) were also great, but always playing catch-up on the number of spins since Awakening From Abyss had that first time wow factor. I have to say though that I expect that Judgement Day will be hitting those numbers in due course. I'm on spin twelve already. Objectively speaking, it is their best record to date.
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Bosh66 wrote:
1 year ago
Not a massive power metal fan myself but I really enjoyed this. Thanks for the review.

Nightfly wrote:
1 year ago
Although I'm not a massive fan of the band I enjoy them from time to time and this is the best I've heard so far from them.


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