A lot of people were left pleasantly surprised by Lovebites’ debut Awakening From Abyss last year. Of course, it also smoked out another group for whom the sight of five young, Japanese women was enough to dismiss them as “another Babymetal” rather than the technical, confident power-metal band they proved to be, but these are metal fans – what do you expect? But even though that album lacked some vision besides “do classic-style power-metal”, it delivered potential in spades, and new EP Battle Against Damnation is subsequently indicative of a band hitting the ground running in terms of growing and establishing themselves.
And even if this isn’t any sort of grand sonic departure, Lovebites are definitely taking steps in the right direction. Just having this release as an EP is a start, condensing their best elements into a more manageable package while still giving themselves the space for sweeping, grand battle scores. Because if there’s one thing that Lovebites are untouchable at, it’s crafting a sound brimming with pomp and circumstance stemming from their supreme technical wizardry. Above The Black Sea is probably the best example with its choral and symphonic punctuations breaking through the constant stream of miles-per-hour fretboard dashes, but there’s not a moment that doesn’t feel utterly triumphant in both the scale of the instrumentation and in asami’s sharp, piercing vocals.
In a sense, that does make up for the relative lack of solid songwriting as well. It’s not like that matters in the first place though – this sort of power-metal can thrive on precision and warlike atmosphere alone – but whereas the most prominent issue on Awakening From Abyss was that it could all run together, that hasn’t really gone away here. Of course, the more confined space of an EP mitigates that somewhat, to the point where it arguably doesn’t matter too much, but it’d still be nice to see. As much as a track like The Crusade pulsates with metallic bravado and size, something a bit easier to latch onto would make it so much better.
But even so, no matter how small, Battle Against Damnation is heading in the right direction. Lovebites have proven their instrumental prowess, and condensing it down even further to a grander essence makes this much easier to digest, and a lot more likable. It’s no wonder that Lovebites are getting the attention they currently are; they’re a suitable shot in the arm for modern power-metal, and one that only looks to keep improving.
For fans of: DragonForce, Sonata Arctica, Blind Guardian
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Battle Against Damnation’ by Lovebites is released on 8th June on JPU Records.