Loudness is not a threat: it's the name of Japan's top heavy metal band. They'll be making their local debut at the Bayou Tuesday, with Keel. Although they've been a supergroup in Japan for the last four years, Loudness has only recently started to make inroads in Europe and the United States. Their new album, "Thunder in the East," is the band's first all-English production. An earlier album had come out in both Japanese and phonetically learned English since none of the band members spoke English at the time.

"I study for seven months," says lead singer Minoru Niihara. "It's really hard to sing in English because very different pronunciation between Americans and Japanese. Basically I write in Japanese, then I do translations. In Japanese, when you say 'I love you,' we say 'I you love,' a different sentence and way of expression. So I have to change my way of expression and it makes me so confused."

But, Niihara points out, "I have to sing English when I sing in States because American people cannot understand what I say in Japanese, which makes it harder to communicate with audience." At home, there's been some backlash about the group's move to English. "Some of fans say to me, 'Please sing in Japanese and don't go so far away,' but many others say, 'Sounds great and good luck.' "

The band has had a cult following here and in Europe for some time. Musically Loudness falls somewhere betwen Motley Crue and Richie Blackmore -- hard-edged heavy metal. They grew up on western rock 'n' roll, greatly influenced by the many rock bands that have toured in Japan.

Already, Loudness has made it into Billboard's Top 100 album chart and they're trying to go further than the last Japanese rock band to make stateside inroads, the synth-laden Yellow Magic Orchestra. The other band members are guitarist Akira Takasaki, drummer Munetaka Higuchi and bassist Masayoshi Yamashita.