Lovebites – Judgement Day (JPU Records)Friday, 24th March 2023
Lovebites, the frantic Japanese power metal band who all but dances around at high-octane tempos and leaving a pile of dust in their wake, have returned once more with Judgement Day. Approaching with caution after the frenetic but excessively lengthy Electric Pentagram in 2020, this one does fall under the umbrella of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ in terms of their sonic output but there weren’t any issues with the shred-tastic guitarwork and musicianship the band is known for. Just that the ‘more is more’ mentality doesn’t translate well to a 70+ minute album. Something that Judgement Day thankfully remedies.
Honestly, the only fix that Lovebites needed last time was to shorten their runtime and use the cutting room a bit more, and Judgement Day does that exact thing. At a slightly more slim 53 minutes (yeah, its still pushing it a bit), Lovebites feels more refreshing this time around. As a band that loves to put the pedal to the metal whenever possible, there’s still quite a bit to digest but it doesn’t feel like a chore like the last album did – which was the epitome of listen to a few songs and fall in love, but listen to the whole thing and cry from monotony. That said, the band knows how to bring the full onslaught of shredding metal glory, with soaring riffs and melodies with Asami’s equally high-flying vocals creating a mixture that makes one want to raise a fist or two and headbang furiously. The opening one-two of “We are the Resurrection” and the title track reassures fans that nothing has been lost in their seeking to claim the shred crown from Dragonforce. But they also realized that it’s okay to slow down, at least a little, every once in a while. “Wicked Witch” and “My Orion” still aren’t necessarily going to be seen as ‘slow tracks’ by any other band, but they serve the purpose of easing off the gas pedal enough to give them a different flavor than the full-out assault of the remaining tracks.
It’s hard to find much to fault Lovebites with in terms of their musical approach. It’s an epic adrenaline rush that most other bands in the genre simply can’t match. It’s scorching, triumphant, and most importantly, its incredibly fun. Does it suffer a little still from being too one-dimensional in it’s goal of shredding from (mostly) beginning to end? Sure, but there are few around that can provide such a riotous good time with it, and with the reduction of the overall time-length, it makes for a release that is bound to leave you with a smile (and likely a sore neck too).