is a Japanese heavy metal
band formed in 1981
Akira Takasaki and drummer
Munetaka Higuchi. They were the first Japanese heavy metal act signed in the United States, releasing seven albums (3 in America)
by the end of 1987 and reaching the Billboard top 100.
Their Japanese-language debut album
was Birthday Eve
; a relatively successful debut album, especially given that the Heavy Metal
genre had not produced much output in Japan. In 1983
, after recording their third album The Law of Devil's Land
, they went on their first US tour, followed by a tour in Europe. They moved to Europe
to record their 4th album Disillusion
, performing several concerts there.
Finally in 1985, through the management of Twisted Sister co-manager Joe Gerber, they inked a contract with Atco Records. Their 5th album Thunder in the East became a very successful album for them, It was their first album released in America, it peaked at #74 in the Billboard charts. It had the hit "Crazy Night", noted for the repeated chant of "MZA," which vocalist Minoru Niihara finally admitted in a series of 2006 interviews as meaning nothing, but that it sounded good at the time. Thunder in the East was significant as all the songs were sung in English, which has become a trend in many Japanese bands, indeed the vast majority of non-English-speaking metal bands.
Their 6th album, Lightning Strikes, charted at #64 and they became a famous band worldwide. Touring with the likes of Mötley Crüe, AC/DC, Poison, and Stryper likely helped this. However, their success in the United States moved the group to write more commercial pop-metal -- a prime example being the single "Let It Go" -- which was quite different from what they had done in their previous albums, and lost much of the supportive fanbase.
Following the Jealousy EP of 1988, Niihara was fired from the band and replaced by American vocalist Mike Vescera with the group hoping to establish more commercial success with English-speaking audiences. Together, they recorded 2 albums, Soldier Of Fortune (1989) and On The Prowl (1991). However, such did little to improve the band's status in America and also took its toll on the Japanese fanbase of Loudness. Vescera eventually exited (and joined Yngwie J. Malmsteen in 1993) during their American tour in 1991,and was eventually replaced by Ezo vocalist Masaki Yamada to finish the tour. Eventually soon after, Masayoshi Yamashita also left and was replaced by ex X Japan bassist, Taiji Sawada and this resulted in the 1992 self-titled album Loudness and the 1993 live album Once And For All.
In 1993,the band nearly split-up, with the departure of Higuchi and Sawada. However, much like Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, Takasaki never disbanded Loudness as the group - eventually featuring Anthem bassist Naota Shibata and Ezo drummer Hirotsugu Honma in its lineup - continued to release material. This new incarnation of Loudness released 4 studio albums (Heavy Metal Hippies, Ghetto Machine, Dragon and Engine) and 1 live album (Loud 'n' Raw) between 1994 and 1998.
The original and classic line-up of the band reunited in 2001, at the request of Takasaki, to celebrate the band's 20th Anniversary. Although intended to be a one-off, the popularity of the band's reunion in its native Japan was overwhelming and the lineup decided to continue. At least one studio album and one DVD release have followed every year since the 2001 reunion, in addition to one-off recordings, like 2005's theme song for famed K-1 fighter Musashi ("The Battleship Musashi").
2006 brought the 25th Anniversary of Loudness.
In April 2008, just two months after releasing Metal Mad, they decided to go on hiatus, when drummer Munetaka Higuchi was diagnosed with liver cancer.
- Minoru Niihara (vocals, 1981-1988; 2001-present) - Minoru Niihara was born on March 12, 1960. His first band was Earthshaker, in which he played bass as he sung. He was influenced by blues music and became a member of the band in 1981. He departed the band in 1989, but after working with several bands (including Ded Chaplin, Sly and XYZ-A, returned to Loudness. He released a solo album in 2006 in addition to recording an album with XYZ-A.
- Akira Takasaki (electric guitar, 1981-present) - Akira was born in Osaka, on February 22, 1961. He first started his music career as a member of the band Lazy. His musical style didn't gel with the band and he decided to make his original band, "Loudness".
- Masayoshi Yamashita (bass guitar, 1981-1991; 2001-present) - Masayoshi Yamashita supports the band's music with his bass sound. He was asked to join Loudness since he was friends with Akira.
- Munetaka Higuchi (drums, 1981-1992; 2001-present) - Munetaka Higuchi played in Lazy with Akira, and later formed "Loudness" with him. After leaving Loudness in 1993, he formed Sly with Minoru and ex-Earthshaker guitarist Shinichiro Ishihara.
- Hirotsugu Homma - (drums) (1992-2001) (Ezo, Saber Tiger, Anthem, Flatbacker)
- Naoto Shibata - bass (1993-2001) (Anthem, Saber Tiger)
- Masaki Yamada - (vocals) (1991-2001) (Ezo, Flatbacker)
- Mike Vescera - (vocals) (1989-1991) (ex-Killing Machine, The Reign of Terror- , Obsession (US), Palace of Black, Safe Haven, Roland Grapow, MVP, ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen, ex-Dr. Sin
- Taiji Sawada - (bass guitar) (1992-1993) (X Japan, Kings, Dirty Trashroad)
- The Birthday Eve (1981)
- Devil Soldier (1982)
- The Law of Devil's Land (1983)
- Disillusion (1984)
- Disillusion (1984) - English version
- Thunder in the East (November 9, 1985) #74 (US)
- Odin (1985) - EP
- Shadows of War (1986)
- Lightning Strikes (1986) - U.S. Remix of Shadows of War #64 (US)
- Hurricane Eyes (1987) #190 (US)
- Hurricane Eyes (1987) - Japanese Version
- Jealousy (1988) - EP
- Soldier of Fortune (1989)
- On the Prowl (1991)
- Loudness (1992)
- Heavy Metal Hippies (1994)
- Ghetto Machine (1997)
- Dragon (1998)
- Engine (1999)
- Spiritual Canoe (2001)
- The Pandemonium (2001)
- Biosphere (2002)
- Terror (2004)
- Racing (2004)
- The Battleship Musashi(2005) - EP
- Breaking the Taboo (2006)
- Metal Mad (2008)
- Live-Loud-Alive: Loudness in Tokyo (1983)
- 8186 Live (1986)
- Eurobounds (1986)
- Once And For All (1993)
- Loud 'n Raw (1995)
- Loudness Live 2002 (2002)
- The Soldier's Just Came Back (2002)
- Never Stay Here, Never Forget You (1986)
- A Lesson In Loudness (1989)
- Loudest (1991)
- Loudest Ballads (1991)
- Loud n' Rare (1992)
- Best Songs (1995)
- Masters of Loudness (1996)
- Very Best of Loudness (1997)
- Best of Loudness 8688: Atlantic Years (2001)
- Re-Masterpieces (2002)
- RockShocks (2004)
- The Best of Reunion (2005)
- "Burning Love" (1982)
- "Geraldine" (1983)
- "Road Racer" (1983)
- "Road Racer" (1983) - English version
- "Crazy Night" (1985)
- "Gotto Fight" (1985)
- "Let It Go" (1986)
- "Let It Go" (1986) - English version
- "Risky Woman" (1986)
- "Long Distance Love" (1989)
- "Dreamer & Screamer" (1989)
- "You Shook Me" (1989)
- "Slap in the Face" (1991)
- "Black Widow" (1992)
- "Crazy Samurai" (2004)
- "The Battleship Musashi" (2005)
- "Ashes To The Sky"
- Messiah's Blessing (1982) - Misako Honjou
- 13th (1983) - Misako Honjou
- Metal Vibes (2002)
- #128 (2006)
- Ashes To Glory (2006)
- Drum Collection Vol. 001 (2006)
- Loudness Live: Loudness presents Loud'n Fest Vol.1 at Club Citta' (2002) - Official bootleg
- Loudness Live Terror 2004 (2004)
- Rock-Shocking The Nation (2005)
- Loudness Live In Seoul (2005) - Official bootleg, series 2
- Loudness In America '06 (2006)
- Thanks 25th Anniversary: Loudness Live at International Forum (2006)