Japan’s new power metal standardbearers up their momentum
“WE ARE LOVEBITES, and we play heavy metaaaaaaaal!” As introductions go, it’s hardly the most original, but as the taped intro of The Awakening fades and the band launch headfirst into the NWOBHM-esque Don’t Bite The Dust, a maelstrom of duelling guitars and rumbling bass with a chorus that soars into the rafters, no one here tonight doubts its accuracy.
Like a lot of successful bands, from Kiss to The Spice Girls, there’s a cartoon element to Lovebites’ onstage personas, ensuring that if the music ever veers towards to the mundane or the predictable, the band’s personalities can bridge the shortfall. That they’re able to project this despite being dressed near-identically – in wedding white – is testament to the strength of their personalities, or at least to the quirks most visibly on show. You’ve got bassist Miho, the headbanging extrovert who swigs from a bottle of cider between songs. “She loves alcohol!” beams singer Asami, the jovial one. Stage right is guitarist Midori, who spends much of the evening with a mile-wide grin on her face, while stage left stands sister guitarist Miyako, who distances herself from her bandmates by not looking delighted for the duration of the set. Drummer Haruna’s contribution to the cast, meanwhile, is to fulfil the junior role, looking barely old enough to have left junior school. Boozy Bites, Bouncy Bites, Broody Bites, Bubbly Bites and Baby Bites. Check.
Lovebites have something to prove. Thrust triumphantly into the spotlight at Bloodstock festival after being bumped onto the main stage with an hour’s notice, they’ve got to show they can perform night after night on a gruelling tour, when the halls aren’t full and the adrenaline isn’t so naturally spiked. But perform, they do. Break The Wall is a frantic, old-school thrasher that races by in a burst of wild energy. Scream For Me is similarly charged, galloping along with the ferocity of an angry bull and climaxing as Midori and Miyako trade whammy-barring and finger-tapping solos. The pace is merciless: Scream
For Me, Shadowmaker and Rising all race by before the intro to Above The Black Sea provides some brief respite from the bedlam. Only Edge Of The World, a swaying ballad that slowly builds steam before reaching peak velocity, provides any kind of proper break from the tumult. Lovebites’ set might veer towards the one-dimensional, but it’s a thrilling dimension to spend time in.
asami: henceforth known as Bouncy Bites. er, maybe not…