The explosive and extensive debut album from Lovebites, Awakening From Abyss, doesn’t only flaunt the fact these five ladies from Tokyo are an extremely promising and powerful band, but that they have more than enough ability and riffs to stand toe to toe with just about any other metal band who have had a release this year. Formed in Tokyo as recently as 2015, Awakening From Abyss is the full length follow up to their 2016 debut EP The Lovebites EP, which was comprised of 4 tracks, all of which feature on the tracklist for the new album, and although the record is almost full to the brim with passion, this brings the running time to a slightly bloated 61 minutes.
The intro track, The Awakening starts the album off with some flowery, plucked broken chords alongside some bowed strings played in a Japanese fashion, with the plucked chords sounding like they could be have been played on a Japanese Koto. This serves simply as an introduction and clocks in at just 2 minutes, with no vocals until vocalist Asami brings the true nature of the album in with a singular “Lovebites”, closing the second half of the song off with a hard hitting straight-forward heavy metal riff, some tight drums, and a few bars of light soloing from lead guitarist Midori. The album was mixed and mastered by Mikko Karmila and Mika Jussila in Finland, guys who are known for their work with bands such as Nightwish and Children of Bodom, and this shows on the opener for the album. Within this track, between the blossoming strings and tense keys, against the powerful and incisive metal instrumentation, there is a really well produced and refreshing contrast of sounds, somehow the Scandinavian production, Japanese elements, and western metal influence all come through quite nicely within the first few minutes. Unfortunately, this well balanced aura isn’t quite captured very well throughout the record, throws experimentation out, and instead leans more towards a more traditional metal album. Thankfully these girls know how to make some serious metal music.
The first few tracks after the introduction are seriously rip-roaring, as the lead guitar slices through the mix and soars across some steady and well produced drums and basslines, they bring that epic and grand style of heavy music that radiates eastern Asian energy so well, as well as the first riff to Warning Shot genuinely sounding like something from a Japanese Hack ‘n’ Slash video game. Shortly after that there is the track Shadowmaker, which centres around guitar work too, bringing it in the form of a lovely harmonised and layered guitar riff introduction, sounding like something out of Avenged Sevenfold’s catalogue. Besides the intro track, every other song on the record clocks in between the 4 and 7 minutes and although the metal being produced by Lovebites is some well thought out riffage that Iron Maiden would smile upon, after the first 20 minutes, it’s clear they’re not going for anything too unique or ground-breaking idealistically.
Through the main bulk of riffs, there are still some pretty luscious moments on the album, that give it some much needed character and change. Like the great In Flames inspired half time solo on the track Liar, the soft watery moments scattered across the track Edge Of The World with it’s keys and tense bridge, and the closer of the album Bravehearted that signs the album off with a brilliantly powerful 6 minute finish rather than an elongated fade. And one thing that definitely warrants mention, is the powerful vocal performance from frontwoman Asami, across every last track, she absolutely brings the heat with her vocal delivery. From what I could hear, every lyric on the project was in English, and enunciated well, with a terrific range and lovely inflections of her Japanese accent, delivered with a real clean ferocity that keeps the album powering on in style.
That being said, even with these slightly more ear catching moments, and a solid vocal performance, the slightly stretched out nature of the project does give way for some lapses in interest. And while there’s barely a minute in the project that doesn’t showcase some tremendous playing, while this is admirable, it’s the lack of evolving ideas or change of style that can make the hour long project drag in areas. But the general atmosphere still somehow, to Lovebites strength, doesn’t stagnate quite as much as one might expect it would. Throughout the album, on the whole we’re treated to some pretty fantastic musicianship and technical ability, from every member of the band.
Lovebites deliver over an hour of some sincerely hard hitting and classy metal music, with an authentic Japanese edge. With no groundbreaking sounds or lyrics on offer, and at times a formulaic, repetitive and overly clean sound, they manage to counteract this well with some serious metal shredding and sustained energy throughout. A strong, fun and potent debut album, these five young ladies are a real shining example of a great metal band, in an area of the world where pop and R&B music is seemingly taking over and where there is still big gender inequality. The shredders should enjoy this one.
Highlights: The Awakening, Warning Shot, Liar