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For a brief period during the mid-'80s, Japanese metal export Loudness flirted with crossover success in the American market, as they caught the attention of MTV with the anthemic "Crazy Nights" (off of 1985's Thunder in the East), and opened for AC/DC in U.S. arenas a year later. Loudness started out as a metal act in the vein of Judas Priest, before becoming increasingly more melodic during this aforementioned mid-'80s period, where they were obviously aiming at the same audience as Mötley Crüe and Ratt. But when the group returned with a vengeance in the early 21st century, Loudness (whose only recognizable bandmember from the '80s is guitar wiz Akira Takasaki) had toughened up their sound considerably, as evidenced by releases such as 2005's Racing. Fans of the '80s Loudness may have a tough time figuring out this is the same band, as they now specialize in Pantera-esque heaviness, as evidenced by such over-the-top riff-mongers as "Exultation" and "Live for the Moment." But for fans looking for a connection back to the Loudness of old, a limited edition of Racing came with 13 re-recordings of old favorites. Takasaki can still shred with the best of them, and Racing should please most veteran metal heads.

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