A personal reflection by Andrew Goodhew.
On August 17th, 2021, the news that Miho – founding member and now former bassist of all female metal band LOVEBITES – was leaving the group was released, along with the announcement that the rest of the group would be going on hiatus. It sent shock waves through the metal scene in Japan and around the world. For me as one of their biggest fans in the UK, the announcement saddened and deflated me. It just feels so raw that a band that has meaningful lyrics, that sing to you about what you feel and inspired myself to be who I am today has gone on hiatus, and yes it hurts at times.
Here are my thoughts on why LOVEBITES are an important band to me.
When LOVEBITES were first signed to UK label JPU Records in June 2017, I liked the image of 5 talented young women; Asami on vocals, Haruna on drums, Miho on bass and Miyako and Midori on guitars. What was said about them was ‘For Fans of Iron Maiden and Anthrax’. I liked both of those bands so thought I would give them a listen. After watching the video of ‘Don’t Bite the Dust‘ from their debut self titled E.P, I was hooked straight away with their amazing sound, and it certainly did demonstrate that well-known Iron Maiden feel. I immediately bought the E.P, but little did I know that they would be singing in English, which I was not expecting from a Japanese band. On the same day that the E.P was released they announced their debut album ‘Awakening from Abyss‘, as well as news of guitarist Miyako joining the band on a permanent basis rather than as support. I could not wait.
Closer to the time of the new album arriving, the artwork for ‘Awakening From the Abyss‘ was released, and it was just incredible. Soon after, the music video for Shadowmaker came out too, and I was like ‘Is this the same band that I was listening to on E.P?’ I was not expecting them to go this heavy after their debut release. The album was a total hit for me. Don’t Bite the Dust along with Bravehearted, The Apocalypse and Scream were all re-recorded for the album and they were just as great as before. So many great and captivating lyrics along with powerful guitar riffs and fast paced drumming. On the day of the album release they had not only been announced to perform at Hyper Japan in London, but also their first headlining performance outside of Japan too.
Hyper Japan and their London show just a few days after were a great way to make their presence known to the UK as well as to the world, with both shows really taking it up a notch. Myself, like many other new fans, knew they were going to be good live, but they were more than good; they were amazing. At the London Underworld show they played the album in its entirety, along with Love Bites (So Do I) by Halestorm, and said that’s where they got the name of the band from. This was great as I too am a big fan of Halestorm. After that show I said to myself ‘I am witnessing a huge band of the future’.
2018 was a big step for LOVEBITES, as they would be making their festival debuts at both Wacken and Bloodstock festivals. They also released an epic E.P, Battle Against Damnation, closely followed by what I consider to be a masterpiece, Clockwork Immortality. Both the 2nd E.P and album were made even more epic and meaningful with the lyrics and the instrumentation which was fantastic. Battle Against Damnation had some amazing guitar riffs such as in Above the Black Sea and Below the Red Sky.
Clockwork Immortality is the most important album for me. Asami’s lyrics for the album with songs such as Rising, Journey to the Otherside, Epilogue and Empty Daydream really gave a powerful message to me. ’Show your scars with pride and relive or your history’ from Rising and ‘Won’t be long, till I see you again someday’ from Journey to the Otherside are lyrics that really resonated with me.
They went on to win the Best New Band award by Metal Hammer Golden Gods , which I attended for the first time after it had been on my bucket list for a while. This was just one great experience for everyone in the rock and metal community, and along with four other amazing performances and the groups first full EU tour at the end of the year, LOVEBITES started to gain a lot of fans, especially after their performances at Wacken and Bloodstock.
Originally, LOVEBITES were supposed to play on the Sophie Lancaster Stage at Bloodstock, however due to Suicidal Tendencies being delayed, they were bumped up to the main stage. The 2018 EU and UK tours were great, and the crowds were so into them that they certainly made lots of new fans.
The following year they released their first live DVD/BluRay with CD, Daughters of the Dawn, as part of their Clockwork Immortality tour. The DVD of that was truly special. A show full of emotion, they played songs from both albums and the second E.P. This is a live viewing that I recommend. After joining Arch Enemy for two shows in China, they embarked on a UK tour with Dragonforce and a spot at Download Festival. Sadly I did not go to Download that year in 2019 and they did get good praise by Download organisers and packed the tent out too.
The icing on the cake for fans at Download 2019 was Asami collaborating with Halestorm for the song Love Bites (So Do I), where they both smashed it out of the water. And during the tour with Dragonforce they played a new song called Signs of Deliverance from their soon to be released new album. The music video for track Golden Destination was made up of recordings from the Dragonforce tour featuring many fans.
The beginning of 2020 saw Lovebites’ third – and to me their heaviest – album Electric Pentagram was released, and flipping heck that is an excellent album! It had the strong and powerful lyrics that you could not resist to cheer and sing along to, coupled with fast pasted drumming and the many over the top guitar riffs, particularly Thunder Vengeance and Holy War. The most surprising songs for me were Dancing with the Devil, Frozen Serenade and Swan Song.
LOVEBITES managed to safely tour Japan in early 2020 before the Covid ’19 pandemic took hold where they recorded their Five of A Kind show. This was a massive and spectacular step up for the band, playing at Tokyo Zepp Diver City. Sadly, some shows had to be rescheduled due to the ongoing pandemic. The live DVD and BluRay release in July that year was much loved by their fans during what was a difficult year.
Just before Miho’s departure and the bands hiatus in the summer of 2021, they released the Glory to the World E.P, as well as the amazing single for the anime Vladlove, a song called Winds of Transylvania which was both amazing and crazy as it always. During the rescheduled Ride for Vengeance tour of 2021, they released what would sadly be their last live DVD/BluRay in the original line up, Heavy Metal Never Dies– Live in Tokyo 2021, filmed at the Tokyo Dome City Hall.
After they went on hiatus they released their ‘best of’ 2 disc CD called In The Beginning 2017-2021, on which one last song with Miho called Nameless Warrior, which I felt was a fitting tribute to her and all they have achieved as a band.
Yes it is sad that they have gone on hiatus, and with the departure of Miho, it has left a hole in me. But the memories of them will stand strong. They made amazing music for us over the last 4 years, and to me they are just warming up and I know that they will be back soon.
I would like to thank Beyond Senpai for giving me the opportunity to write this article, and also the Lovebites Fans Worldwide fan group, for not only creating this great community but also giving me the opportunity to be part of the ever growing online community.
To support LOVEBITES
https://lovebites.jp/ https://jpurecords.com/pages/lovebites https://www.facebook.com/LovebitesTheBand https://instagram.com/lovebites_jp?utm_medium=copy_link
One thought on “Why LOVEBITES are the most important Japanese band, to me.”
Nice article Andrew. You and your readers may enjoy my review of Lovebites’ first five years. https://zapatosjam.blogspot.com/2021/11/supernova-retrospective-on-first-five.html