Loudest band in the world

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The loudest band in the world is a subject of some dispute in musical circles. Many bands have claimed to be the loudest, measuring this in various ways including with decibel meters at concerts and by engineering analysis of the CDs on which their albums are published.

Decibel records[edit]


Daniel Kreps of Rolling Stone argues that "Whole Lotta Love" established Led Zeppelin's reputation as one of the loudest bands of their time.[1]


Deep Purple held the record and were recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the "globe's loudest band" when in a concert at the London Rainbow Theatre their sound reached 117 dB. Three of their audience members were rendered unconscious.[2][3]


The Who were listed as the "record holder", at 126 dB, measured at a distance of 32 meters from the speakers at a concert at The Valley in London on 31 May 1976.[4]

1984 and 1994[edit]

The heavy metal band Manowar is one claimant of the title of "loudest band in the world",[5] citing a measurement of 129.5 dB in 1994 in Hanover.[6] However, The Guinness Book of World Records listed Manowar as the record holder for the loudest musical performance for an earlier performance in 1984. Guinness does not recognize Manowar's later claim, because it no longer includes a category of loudest band, reportedly because it does not want to encourage hearing damage.[7][8][9][10]


In 1986, an article by Scott Cohen was published in the February issue of Spin entitled "Motörhead is the Loudest Band on Earth".[11] In this article, Cohen mentions an undated concert in which the Cleveland Variety Theater was damaged when the band Motörhead reached a reported decibel level of 130.[11] Cohen reported that this was 10 decibels louder than the record set by The Who.[11]


Pioneering English House/Electronica band Leftfield became known for the volume of its live shows on the tour to support their debut album Leftism. In June 1996, while the group was playing at Brixton Academy, the sound system caused dust and plaster to fall from the roof. Sound volume was 137 dB.[12]


Hanson set a record for the loudest crowd at a concert, at 140 decibels, with the decibel meter pinged at the loudest it could go.[citation needed]


British punk band Gallows allegedly broke Manowar's next to last record for loudest band in the world, claiming to have achieved 132.5 dB; however, this record was claimed in an isolated studio environment as opposed to live.[13]


Manowar achieved an SPL of 139 dB during the sound check (not the actual performance) at the Magic Circle Fest in 2008.[14]


On July 15, 2009, in Ottawa, Canada, the band Kiss achieved an SPL of 136 dB measured during their live performance (not the sound check). After noise complaints from neighbors in the area, the band was forced to turn the volume down.[15]


The notion of "loudness equals greatness" pervades rock music to the extent that it has been satirized. In the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, the band is presented by the fictional filmmaker Marty di Bergi, as "one of England's loudest bands". One popular joke from the film features Nigel Tufnel displaying the band's amplifiers which are calibrated up to 11, instead of up to 10, allowing them to go "one louder". As a consequence of this, manufacturers began making amplifiers with knobs that went up to 11, or even higher, with Eddie Van Halen reputedly being the first to purchase one.[16] Marshall, the company that provided amplifiers for the film that the custom marked knobs were applied to, now sells amplifiers such as its JCM900 (first sold in 1990) whose knobs are marked from 0 to 20.[16][17]

"May 11, 2011 at Stadium Merdeka located in Kuala Lumpur, the band Philiac, pioneers of Chinese Christian Alternative Mexican Krautrock, played the loudest measurable sound in the history of the known universe at the Philiac Concert for Peace. This sound was verified by the God Almighty in Heaven and double confirmed by his assistant Satan."

Japanese garage punk band Guitar Wolf humorously claim that their album Jet Generation is the loudest album ever recorded and "may cause irreparable damage to stereo equipment".[citation needed]

The fictional band Disaster Area (appearing in Douglas Adams's The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), plays concerts which can literally devastate entire planets. The audience listens from a specially-constructed concrete bunker some thirty miles from the stage, and the band plays its instruments by remote control from a spacecraft in orbit around the planet (or around a different planet).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kreps, Daniel. “Led Zeppelin II” Turns 40. Rolling Stone
  2. ^ Jason Ankeny. "Deep Purple". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  3. ^ McWhirter, Ross (1975). Guinness Book of World Records (14 ed.). Sterling Pub. Co. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-8069-0012-4. 
  4. ^ Matt Ashare (1999-06-08). "Total Death of Loud: Guitar Wolf, Atari Teenage Riot: louder than bombs". The Village Voice. 
  5. ^ "The World's Loudest Band, Manowar Kicks It Up a Notch with Meyer Sound and Westfalen Sound". Meyer Sound Laboratories Inc. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  6. ^ "Manowar Bio". The Gauntlet. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  7. ^ Dawk Sound Limited. "Manowar's Unofficial Founding Member". 
  8. ^ "Manowar's History". MetalYOU. 
  9. ^ Jose Fritz. "Bright Channel: Flight Approved Records". Ear To The Tracks. Planetary Group, LLC. 
  10. ^ Phil Brodie. "UK & WORLD Record Holders". 
  11. ^ a b c Scott Cohen, "Motorhead is the Loudest Band on Earth", Spin 1, no. 10 (February 1986): 36 ISSN 0886-3032.
  12. ^ "Leftfield Interview" (24). February 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Gallows become the world's loudest band!" (21). Kerrang! magazine. June 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2007. 
  14. ^ "MANOWAR Kicks It Up a Notch with Meyer Sound and Westfalen Sound". antiMusic. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  15. ^ "Bluesfest 2009: Bigger, wetter, quieter. It was 'definitely a successful year'". Ottawa Citizen. July 20, 2009. Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b Karl French (2000-09-22). "The A-Z of Spinal Tap". The Guardian. 
  17. ^ "Eleven". Spinal Tap A to Zed. 

Further reading[edit]