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Disgraceful - 30%

kluseba, November 10th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1991, CD, Atco Records

While Loudness' first record with American singer Michael Vescera two years earlier had a commercial touch but still included a few good and especially new tracks, On the Prowl is a disgraceful effort and might even be the worst release in Loudness' long career. The reason for my harsh rating is very simple: On the Prowl only consists of three new tracks while the other songs are re-recorded Loudness tracks with a few new arrangements and different lyrics.

Both the new songs and the revamped tracks are unimpressive. The three new tracks don't have any memorable parts and sound like exchangeable hard rock music that already sounded dated back in the early nineties and that could have been released by a weaker Bon Jovi, Dokken or Whitesnake copy a decade earlier. The new tracks don't have the vivid spirit of the original tunes and changing the lyrics is a slap in the face of original singer Minoru Niihara. Ironically enough, Loudness actually released a decent and heavy track called ''Slap in the Face'' a few months after On the Prowl saw the light of day but Michael Vescera suddenly left the band in the middle of a tour to join Yngwie Malmsteen and slapped his band mates in the face as well. Loudness simply was on a losing streak in the late eighties and early nineties and it would only be in the new millennium after their reunion with original singer Minoru Niihara that the band would get some positive momentum back.

On the Prowl only had the purpose to increase sales figures and make the band more popular outside Japan. However, heavy metal and hard rock were already declining in the early nineties and On the Prowl didn't receive much attention or praise while the band's fans of old date obviously disliked Soldier of Fortune and were rightfully furious about On the Prowl. In hindsight, we could say that releasing On the Prowl was probably Loudness' worst idea in a career that approaches nearly four decades by now. The fact that the band has released numerous greatest hits compilations, re-recorded some of its material several times in its career and has also released numerous live albums featuring classic material makes On the Prowl even more forgettable and useless.

This release is only interesting if you are into commercial hard rock and glam rock of the eighties and if you have never heard of Loudness before. Die-hard fans will obviously buy anything Loudness has released for the sake of completing their collections. Any other fan of the band should ignore this disgraceful release. The only good aspects about this album are the facts that the songs still sound acceptable due to the excellent source material and that the album cover is one of the most beautiful and detailed ones in Loudness' career.

Good Mixture of Melody and Balls - 72%

DeathRiderDoom, April 12th, 2011

Loudness were a veteran band by this stage, and while they had built a huge following by this stage in Japan, and began to break the overseas markets with 'Thunder in the East' (1985), they still felt they deserved a wider degree of success in th European and American markets, and replaced lontime vocalist Minoru Niihara with American Obsession singer Mike Vescera for the blistering, yet melodic Soldier of Fortune disc in '89. Though many fans believe this was a weak move, and the band was simply suffering from an identity crisis, resulting in a weak "glam" metal record, i disagree. While Niihara was a key member in the band, and yes, did have a lot to do with defining the sound of the band, he, like many Japanese traditional metal band's singers, unfortunately just wasn't a very good vocalist - compared with some of his American counterparts of the time, he simply doesn't have the clarity, power, vibrato or beauty of many of the American USPM vocalists - and I'm not even talking about your Geoff Tates and Midnights, i'm talking vocalists in bands like Recon or Glacier even. Anyway, while Soldier of Fortune was viewed with disdain by many longtime ffans, it was a great record, and Vescera's performance was top notch. Then came the follow up, 1991's On the Prowl'.

On the Prowl very much picks off where SOF left off 2 years earlier - it features a lot more melody than some of the ruckus straight up trad metal of the early Loudness days, but also doesn't back down on the balls. Gutsy numbers like 'Deadly Prayer' feature fast pace, and some guttural, banshee screams from the capable Vescera, screaming into the mic like a man possessed. Guitar sections are well worked out - Akira Takasaki flexing his skills with power metallish high paced solos and beatiful rhythms. 'Girl' is a rowdy number with heavy drumming, though its subject matter feels glammy, for example - this is pretty much the combination we have with this album in particular; still retaining balls, but with a glammish, commercial edege, while 'In the Mirror' is just all out ballsy cutting heavy metal, akin to a good Mad Max track.

Of course the Vescera era also ushered in a concentration on melodic songs, but these needn't lack balls and well-worked out guitar sections. Loudness may have commercialised their sound somewhat, but they didn't become a candy-ass band-wagonier AOR outfit, like others would have you believe. Like fellow Japanese legend Kuni, Loudness crafts melodic heavy metal with these albums; power melody, in the sense of Dokken, for example, this isn't an album without teeth. 'Take it or Leave It' is a rockin slower number which fails to abandon crunching guitar tone and fantastic displays of solo prowess. Tracks like 'Long Distance' feel pretty saccharin and commercial, perhaps too much for some, but the quality of Vescera's vocals, and the cool tone and skill of Takasaki's guitar shine through.

Anyway, while i wouldn't say exactly that this is the best record the band has to offer, i probably still like it more than one or maybe two of their earlist records, which sound unrefined by comparison. Here, the mixture of melodic, commercialism, with the retaining of balls, and the high production values, result in a decent record with several really bangin tracks, like 'Sleepless Nights'. Of course it helps that I'm no stranger to 80s AOR and glam. but i still don't think these albums called for the response that the haters gave em, and continue to give them. The lyrics, as well as Vscera's snarling, attitude laden voice, solid hooks, heavy pounding drums and wicked displays of guitar wizardy all keep this one a pretty metal record, and i quite enjoy it.