Japan’s Lovebites have always been a proficient band, releasing a series of EP’s, long players and double live albums with dizzying rapidity. An enforced line-up brought their juggernaut to a shuddering halt (a gap filled by a twin compilation set) but the band are very much back and ready to take on the world with their fourth studio album, the aptly titled Judgement Day.
When founding member and bassist Miho left the band in 2021, many in the group’s fanbase (affectionately termed the “Wolf Pack”) became anxious, wondering if the band would continue. That was a valid fear because Miho was the group’s powerhouse, penning the lyrics and music to some of the band’s most beloved songs (in addition to being Lovebites’ resident headbanger). However, I’m pleased to report that with new four-stringer Fami on board, its very much normal service resumed and perhaps attesting to a sense of urgency, a desire to make up for lost time, opening shot ‘We Are The Resurrection’ gets straight down to business. There’s no elongated introduction or fancy sound effects to set the scene, just two guitars entwining neo-classical lines and reaching upwards towards some infinitesimal point. ‘We Are The Resurrection’ arrives like a bullet from a smoking pistol, and it is all the more powerful for it. Without missing a beat, it picks right up where 2021 EP Glory, Glory To The World left off, and if there were any doubts about the band’s ability to continue, then they’re firmly laid to rest. Full of banshee squealing guitars and detonator drums, ‘We Are The Resurrection’ finds Lovebites rising, phoenix-like, to deliver the perfect statement of intent.
The album’s title track was the lead single, and it was also the first chance many had to encounter new bassist Fami, who bookends the song with a haunting motif. It was a nice way to introduce her to the family and she’s been afforded a prominent role in the group, introducing the explosive ‘Stand And Deliver (Shoot ‘Em Down)’ with a lovely dirty bass rumble. Much of Judgement Day exists in the magical realm that lies between traditional, speed and power metal, and the album incorporates elements of all of these and rolls them into a cohesive whole. Throughout the record guitarists Midori and Miyako trade blistering solos and deliver skull-crushing riffs over which vocalist Asami floats ethereally, turning in an exceptionally good performance on the melodic monster that is ‘My Orion’. From the Iron Maiden-esque gallop that powers ‘Lost In The Garden’ to the Black Sabbath doomy riff that punctuates the thrashy ‘Dissonance’, Judgement Day serves up everything a Lovebites fan would want. While it is true the band aren’t reinventing the wheel, you can hear an evolution on this record that continues the developmental arc of their discography.
With 10 tracks, and clocking in at a cool 55 minutes, Judgement Day is fairly short for a Lovebites record, yet it benefits from its (relative) brevity and is far easier to digest in one sitting (when compared to their lengthier albums). While I was one of many lamenting the departure of Miho, the arrival of Fami has injected fresh blood into a band who could have become stale, and Judgement Day finds them facing the future fearlessly.
- Judgement Day is released via JPU Records on 24th February 2023.
- Official Website
- We Are The Resurrection
- Judgement Day
- The Spirit Lives On
- Wicked Witch
- Stand And Deliver (Shoot ‘Em Down)
- Victim Of Time
- My Orion
- Lost In The Garden
- Soldier Stands Solitarily