Tokyo’s LOVEBITES must be heavy metal’s hardest working band. Since their inception in 2016 they’ve released three albums, two EP’s and a four-track single and, with no signs of slowing down, they’ve just unleashed their second double live album Five Of A Kind.
The sound of a thunderous cloudburst and some sublime synths create a palpable tension, an air of expectation that hangs heavy that is finally broken when the band arrive and launch into Thunder Vengeance. It immediately finds the band in fine fettle and firing on all cylinders with Asami’s vocals sounding both deeper and warmer in the live environment. More thunderclaps and lightning strikes herald the coming of Holy War which arrives like a division of Sherman tanks rolling from speaker to speaker. Despite the band’s virtuosity, the songs on Five Of A Kind aren’t mere facsimiles with the mid-song breakdown on Holy War being markedly different from that which appears on Electric Pentagram and it’s such deviations which make live albums so special.
You can almost feel the waves of affection that radiate between band and crowd as LOVEBITES return to their genesis with a spirited rendition of Don’t Bite The Dust. Barely pausing for breath Rising follows and a capacity audience requires little goading to sing along and Rising injects a nice change of pace which ensures Five Of A Kind ebbs and flows perfectly. LOVEBITES have a pair of guitarists in Midori and Miyako who can rival Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray and Adrian Smith and they trade some blistering solos on the aptly titled Raise Some Hell. Providing a moment of calm Miyako sits at the piano to deliver Chopin’s Etude Op.10, No.12 which segues into the heavy and ethereal Swan Song as Miyako returns to the piano to bookend the song in tinkling keys.
The sublime Dancing With The Devil opens Disc 2 and finds the band opting for a slower tempo with bassist Miho and drummer Haruna locking in tightly to deliver a heavy, groove-laden number. Its pedal back to the metal for the lively pairing of Signs Of Deliverance and M.D.O. before Golden Destination appears like stampeding horses with its triple time gallop. The Awakening riles up the crowd and sets the stage nicely for the all-out thrasher that is The Hammer Of Wrath. Asami and a piano introduce Edge Of The World and hold the crowd spellbound, so much so that you can almost hear a pin drop which makes the coming storm even more volatile. We The United, interlaced with classical guitar lines, is the suitably epic closer and brings down the curtain to rapturous applause.
Recorded at Zepp DiverCity on 21st February, Five Of A Kind – Live In Tokyo 2020 finds LOVEBITES in their natural environment and it’s an album that should become a cornerstone of the genre alongside Kiss’ Alive, Maiden’s Live After Death and UFO’s Strangers In The Night.
Tracklist Five Of A Kind-Live In Tokyo 2020
1. Thunder Vengeance
2. Holy War
3. Don’t Bite The Dust
5. Raise Some Hell
6. Break The Wall
8. Piano Solo (Etude Op.10, No.12)
9. Swan Song
1. Dancing With The Devil
2. Signs Of Deliverance
4. Golden Destination
5. When Destinies Align
6. The Awakening
7. The Hammer Of Wrath
8. Edge Of The World
9. We The United