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Friday, Oct. 16, 2009

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Loud Park

Loud Park is Japan's biggest gathering of heavy-metal maniacs, and a relatively new but much-loved event. Since 2006, the two-day festival has presented the world's heaviest and hairiest, from Slipknot to Marilyn Manson, and this year sees the return of the festival's first headliners, Slayer and Megadeth, as well as Judas Priest.

The festival is less park and more loud, held as it is at the Makuhari Messe exhibition hall. While the surroundings are not exactly picturesque, at least there is no distraction from the music: This year, three stages will play host to over 30 bands from around the world.

With over 35 million album sales since they formed in 1969, Judas Priest have earned the nickname Metal Gods and although they toured Japan last year, you can expect their headline Saturday set to elicit a rabid response. And thrash-metal fans are doubtless creaming themselves that three of the genre's "Big Four" will appear this year, with sets from Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax (the fourth is Metallica, who are absent) that have been scheduled so as not to clash with one another. Since Megadeth's ex-guitarist Marty Friedman now resides in Tokyo, will he make an appearance on stage? Or in the crowd? Or neither?

Other draws include American horror-rock stalwart Rob Zombie, who will play his first Japan show in 13 years; British extreme metallers Napalm Death and their one-time guitarist Bill Steer's current grindcore outfit Firebird; and Anvil, stars of an upcoming feature-length documentary that includes footage from their 2006 appearance at Loud Park. Sweden, Brazil, Finland, Canada are also present and correct, and representing Japan are Hiroaki Tagawa, Galneryus, Liv Moon, Fade and Crossfaith. So although winter is drawing closer, Makuhari is about to get a lot sweatier.

"Loud Park" takes place at Makuhari Messe, Chiba, from Oct. 17-18 (starts at 10 a.m.; two-day tickets are sold out, one-day tickets cost ¥13,500-16,000). For more information, call (0180) 993-050.

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