Judgement Day

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. We Are The Resurrection
02. Judgement Day
03. The Spirit Lives On
04. Wicked Witch
05. Stand And Deliver (Shoot 'Em Down)
06. Victim Of Time
07. My Orion
08. Lost In The Garden
09. Dissonance
10. Soldiers Stands Solitarily

Dispatching the cynics with the opening seconds of their "Awakening The Abyss" debut in 2017, LOVEBITES have been an irresistible force from the start. Rarely has any power metal band been so relentlessly ferocious, particularly with the virtuoso chops to match. Subsequent albums "Clockwork Immortality" (2018) and "Electric Pentagram" (2020) only added to the Japanese quintet's notoriety, and anyone lucky enough to catch them in the flesh will confirm that the blistering intensity of the records is very much a representation of the same thing. "Judgement Day" aims to reinforce the point, with only the arrival of new bassist Fami suggesting anything in the way of fundamental change. Her badass solo intro to "Stand And Deliver (Shoot 'Em Down)" acting as a statement of intent, she slots into the band perfectly, which is all the more admirable when it becomes apparent that this is LOVEBITES' most incendiary album to date.

There's no shame in having a formula when it smashes everything to bits like this. LOVEBITES adhere to a more-is-more ethos, wherein speed, power and a never-ending stream of wild, technical solos are the keys to the kingdom. With vocalist Asami scaling the octaves like some possessed Broadway star, every one of these songs is a full-on, no-holds-barred heavy metal rager, with all the tooth-dislodging kick-drum flurries anyone could possibly need.

"We Are The Resurrection" is slammed down like the ultimate blueprint: fast, furious, considerably heavier than the power metal average and absolutely groaning with inspired chord changes and dark, twisted, interstitial lead breaks. The chorus finally hits at the two-minute mark, and it's an almost comically satisfying payoff. Then the solos erupt and LOVEBITES are in full combat mode, hurtling along at a thrilling pace and outgunning just about everyone else in the same ballpark: Big tunes, insane musicianship, no let-up, no compromise.

Despite their always immaculate collective appearance, this band have true metal grit under every fingernail. Songs like "The Spirit Lives On" and unhinged closer "Soldier Stands Solitarily" are delivered at a pace that occasionally threatens to derail both Asami's vocals and the clarity of the band's performances. It never does, of course, and that underlying sense of barely controlled chaos lends an extra edge to some already pretty frantic material.

Interestingly, the turbocharged thrash of "Dissonance" doesn't really need any extra edge, sounding like a futuristic speed metal PLASMATICS with a taste for gothic horror. Similarly, the dark melodrama reaches the first of several dizzying peaks on the title track. Grandiose and symphonic, but still rooted in undiluted ass-kicking, it sounds a lot like the best song LOVEBITES have yet recorded.

One small complaint: with nearly every song clocking in at around the six-minute mark and very little in the way of respite from the metal blitzkrieg, "Judgement Day" does end up being a slightly exhausting experience. But doesn't it feel fucking great?

Author: Dom Lawson
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