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Friday, Oct. 8, 2010



Loud Park

Now in its fifth year, Loud Park has carved out a reputation as Summer Sonic's noisy younger sister. Arguably more "loud" than "park," the festival amasses the heavyweights of metal over two days at Saitama Super Arena. This year the event also boasts a one-day leg at Kobe World Kinen Hall, giving metalheads in Western Japan a chance to join the frenzy.

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Ozzy Osbourne

And it's a frenzy worth joining. This year's Sunday headliner (Saturday in Kobe) is none other than Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne, who will bring his revamped band to Japan for the first time. His latest album, "Scream," has been hailed by mostly favorable reviews as his best in a long time, with a bombastic sound thanks in part to new guitarist Gus G. of Greek power-metal band Firewind.

Ozzy will also play a headline show at Tokyo International Forum on Oct. 13. The former Black Sabbath frontman will turn 62 in December, so who knows whether he'll make another trip to Japan. Better catch him while you can.

Saturday's top act is Korn (Saitama only), whose back-to-basics approach saw them return to original producer Ross Robinson and shun Pro Tools editing for their evocatively titled new album, "Korn III: Remember Who You Are." The album contains a fury that should ignite the crowd.

Poised to release their 20th — 20th! — album later in the year, Motorhead will surely be a highlight when they play in Kobe on Saturday and Saitama on Sunday. Although sole original member Lemmy Kilmister refers to his music as rock 'n' roll, the stalwart band play blistering speed metal that has influenced generations over their 35-year history, with ace tunes in spades.

While Motorhead may retain only one original member, that's one more than 3 Inches of Blood (Saitama only), whose current lineup features not a single musician from the band's 1999 inception. Vocalist Jamie Hooper was forced to quit music in 2008 after shredding his vocal chords to oblivion, and the others left the band in 2004; current frontman Cam Pipes has shared vocal duties since he joined in 2001. Expect histrionic guitar solos and plenty of screeching.

Chthonic bassist Doris Yeh will be one of only three women on the entire Saitama bill; she's brought the Taiwanese band plenty of attention thanks to her political activism and model looks — not to mention her brutal bass.

Representing Japan will be Dir En Grey (Saitama only), whose success abroad continues to grow; and Kuni (Saturday in Kobe, Sunday in Saitama), a solo artist who built his Stateside career in the 1980s and will doubtless enjoy a chinwag with his old chum Ozzy backstage.

Loud Park takes place on Oct. 16 and 17 at Saitama Super Arena, Saitama City (10 a.m.; ¥14,000 per day) and Oct. 16 at Kobe World Kinen Hall, Kobe City (10 a.m.; ¥11,500-12,500). For more information, call (03) 3462-6969 or visit www.loudpark.com.

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