Not really. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Metallica are the deepest dives I’ve made into heavy metal. I own no Maiden, Sabbath, Priest or Crüe. For bass players the pickings are pretty slim in the mosh pit. I appreciate the bombast and the over-the-top Krampuslauf production values of a well-staged metal act like Dragonforce but the genre has always struck me as more theater than music, more Wayne’s World than worldly. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
During a rehearsal break I was surfing Youtube looking for a young Japanese drummer I wanted to play for the guitar player. Up popped a group called LoveBites, a Japanese heavy metal band and, hold on — they’re all women?! When I saw that they were an actual band, not a female metal knockoff of BTS, like Baby Metal, I was intrigued.
I know women are every bit as musically competent as men. Half the music I’ve written about here are by female artists. In fact, I prefer women artists in some contexts, especially female vocalists because their range makes them cut through a mix better. There’s no reason why women couldn’t pull this off as well as does Anacaona, an all-female Cuban timba band I’m crazy about. However, and maybe it’s just the circles I’ve traveled in, I’ve always assumed that metal was something that mostly only 15 year-old suburban boys and 45 year-old skateboarding incels listened to. I’ve never met a woman who was into Motorhead or Anthrax. Why would women even want to play it?
With these thoughts in mind I clicked
Holy shnikeys, that was intense! I think I stopped breathing for the last two minutes of it. Five Japanese women in prom dresses serving Iron Maiden a message: “Step it up, boys.” Seriously, besides the obvious — that these women can play, sing and perform their asses off — this was textbook metal perfection. The look, the sound, the energy, power, arrangement, lighting, the stage attitudes, the confidence — just flawless. And they also look great. I couldn’t spot a weakness anywhere. It’s as if Honda got into the heavy metal game, not just because Honda is also Japanese but because the company is renowned for taking risks and getting it right, down to the tiniest detail. Then again, maybe being Japanese has something to do with it after all.
Serious headbangers may take issue with me calling LoveBites “heavy metal”. It’s 80s power pop, retro metal, whatever. I’m a musician; I know there are nuances. I know there’s nu metal, metalcore, death metal, speed metal, goth metal, thrash, Finnish moosecall metal and about a hundred other variants. I looked it up. This strain is called Japanīzu Metaru. There’s another all-female, Japanese pop-metaru band, Band Maid, so it’s definitely a thing.
Whatever, the variant, these women sent all of them packing as far as I’m concerned. And — this is important — these are live performances. These ladies aren’t The Monkees or Milli Vanilli. They’re legitimate musical badasses who know how to put on a show without breaking a sweat.
Just wow. What a huge sound. It sounds like the drummer has six feet.
Musicians sometimes ponder the rhetorical question, how did the Beatles find each other? How did random chance put four such incredibly talented, British musicians together at the same time and place, let alone in the same band? I have kind of the same question about these women. While I wouldn’t dare to put them on the same pedestal with the Beatles, it’s still amazing that five such incredibly strong female players — prodigies possibly — found each other in a musical idiom where, to my knowledge, there’s never been even one before. Yeah, I know about Lez Zeppelin and Vixen. I mean serious, original talents doing their own thing. If you think these ladies don’t have deep chops, check out one of the guitar players on piano at the beginning of this tune. Okay, Yuja Wang she’s not and maybe it’s not a Carnegie Hall debut-worthy performance of Chopin’s Opus 10 either but it’s one of the most difficult left-hand piano pieces ever written. And she scored at least a double with it. And she plays guitar.
I definitely want to see these ladies live. Looking them up however I saw that the band is on indefinite hiatus while they audition a new bass player. Miho, who is also one of the band’s founders, got pregnant last year and decided to leave the band for a new career as a full-time mom. That’s too bad because she’s one of the few metal bass players who doesn’t play with a pick. I gotta respect that too.