In what is already their third full-length studio release in only four years, Japanese power metal heroines LOVEBITES are back on track with “Electric Pentagram,” a highly anticipated album following 2018’s excellent “Clockwork Immortality”. These Japanese ladies have quickly captured the attention of press and fans both in their home country but also in Europe, performing at some of the biggest festivals on the scene including Wacken Open Air, Download UK and Graspop Metal Meeting, in addition to joining DRAGONFORCE on their latest UK tour. Compared to the previous release, the band’s lineup remains unchanged, but so is the rest of the personnel involved, including producer Steve Jacobs, mixing by Mikko Karmila and mastering by Mika Jussila. The artwork was again in charge of David López Gómez and Carlos Vicente León.
“Electric Pentagram” opens with the furious “Thunder Vengeance”, a full-speed power metal atom bomb mixed with some thrash elements, including some of the most aggressive riffs these girls have ever produced. The voice and even the pronunciation of Asami provide their music that unique touch that makes you recognize the band immediately, in addition to the guitar sound that Midori and Miyako have developed through the years, becoming one of the most explosive guitar duos nowadays. They continue with “Holy War”, a song closer to symphonic metal territories, with plenty of keyboard arrangements but still pretty heavy given its unstoppable double-kick pattern. It includes the classic ingredients of the genre such as epic melodies and virtuoso guitar playing, but they also incorporate some modern elements like that effective breakdown halfway the track, helping to cleanse the palate after so much pomposity.
“Golden Destination” starts with a galloping rhythm and twin guitars, becoming an instant love letter to IRON MAIDEN, one of the band’s greatest influences. The vocal line evolves from epic heavy metal towards a poppier direction as we approach the chorus, injecting some extra freshness and hooks into the mix. Miho takes the opportunity to shine with a bass solo and a predominant bass line honoring her master Steve Harris. In “Raise Some Hell” they bring out their rebel attitude with striking sharp riffing that seems to be taken straight out of JUDAS PRIEST’s “Painkiller”. But don’t be fooled, this is not a mere copy since they know how to imprint their own style, with a catchy chorus and lyrics that invite you to party and rock all night. An amazing track that will surely become a fundamental part of their live performances.
With “Today Is the Day” they slow down things a little to explore more melodic and modern landscapes, which is evident in the crafting of the riffs and the prominent use of keyboards. The chorus is closer to what we know as Anime music (without any pejorative intention), and despite being a good track it gets a bit overshadowed because of its position between two of the best songs on the record. What comes next is simply an instant classic because “When Destinies Align” has it all: bombastic energy, catchy melodies, optimistic lyrics, and a very inspired Asami pouring her heart out to deliver an epic performance that culminates with that high-pitched scream towards the end of the song. It is understandable that it was the first single from the album since it leaves a lasting impression about the true potential that these warriors of the rising sun have.
In “A Frozen Serenade” they flirt with other music styles closer to pop rock with eighties vibes and also quite influenced by Japanese pop, becoming the most commercial song on the album so to speak. But it is not exempt from metal elements towards the end, with increasing speed and adding also exquisite acoustic arrangements that make this strange experiment a true success. “Dancing With the Devil” is another track that incorporates new ingredients, in this case, some cool hard rock riffing taken from the glorious era of eighties hair metal. Even Asami’s singing style is way more playful, showcasing her vocal versatility and talent. I appreciate that LOVEBITES dares to step outside their comfort zone and give us an interesting mix of styles that, despite how disparate they may seem, work so well in the end. Perhaps metal purists will disagree.
With “Signs of Deliverance” they return to what they do best, a very fresh and elegant type of power metal full of European influences that find their roots in bands like HELLOWEEN. The work of Haruna, the little giant behind the drum kit, is truly monumental, adding an impressive amount of detail to her performance while the guitar duo delights us with their virtuosity. Another track to highlight in this new album. “Set the World on Fire” is a headbanger and brings again a more aggressive approach, with thrash-inspired riffs that take us back to the first BLIND GUARDIAN albums, progressing towards a more melodic style as we reach the chorus. Haruna’s drumming is unstoppable once more, while Midori and Miyako kick ass at full speed in a long and amazing car chase-type shredding competition. They have nothing to envy compared to other guitar duos like Herman Li and Sam Totman.
“The Unbroken” is a song that has grown exponentially on me with every listen. At first, I felt it was a bit out of place for its somewhat extravagant style, almost taken from a musical. But the truth is that over time it has convinced me to the point that I consider it to be one of the most outstanding songs on the album. The rhythm and the melody are so cheerful and playful that they manage to conquer even the most bitter of people. To conclude we have “Swan Song”, an intense epic piece full of neoclassical elements and flawless from an instrumental point of view. The vocal melody is very melancholic in contrast to the rest of the album, which is complemented by the increasing use of piano arrangements towards the ending of the song, leaving us with a slightly sad note after so much pomposity. Seventy minutes later, we have reached the end of this mystical journey.
“Electric Pentagram” sets an important step forward in the evolution of this young band which has the potential to become the undisputed queens of power metal in the current decade. On this occasion, the Japanese five-piece have opted for an even more varied and eclectic approach to songwriting, taking many risks and adding quite unexpected ingredients into the recipe. Perhaps with a couple of tracks removed we would be talking about a perfect album, but despite its little flaws, the final result is consistent, refreshing and of top-notch quality, confirming the great creative moment that LOVEBITES is living at the moment. I hope this winning streak will last for many years because we need more bands like these, bands that have the charisma and vision that the founders of the genre had, but at the same time dare to venture beyond the pre-established boundaries in search of their own musical identity.
Written by David Araneda
- Thunder Vengeance
- Holy War
- Golden Destination
- Raise Some Hell
- Today Is the Day
- When Destinies Align
- A Frozen Serenade
- Dancing with the Devil
- Signs of Deliverance
- Set the World on Fire
- The Unbroken
- Swan Song
Asami – Vocals
Miho – Bass
Midori – Guitars
Miyako – Guitars, Keyboards
Haruna – Drums
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