LORDS OF BLACK – Icons Of The New Days

Much has happened since the Lords Of Black released their self-titled debut album back in 2014. Back then, this Spanish Heavy / Power Metal band was an unknown act and the album in question didn’t exactly set the world on fire. But one Ritchie Blackmore got to hear the voice of the band’s frontman, Chilean born Ronnie Romero and decided he was the perfect singer to hire when he decided to resurrect Rainbow for a few gigs back in 2015, something that brought a few more gigs into the guys’ calendars and a few months ago, they even recorded a new track for a compilation album. That, of course, was a damn good sell-point when it was time for a follow-up album and Frontiers ran their claws into the band. When they released II in 2016, lots of rockers knew who Romero was which helped the band lots – I guess many wanted to hear what Blackmore’s new guy’s band sounded like.

Since then, Romero helped forming the project The Ferrymen with guitarist Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear, Free Fall, Allen-Lande) and drummer Mike Terranna (Axel Rudi Pell, Yngwie Malmsteen, Hardline, Beau Nasty) and Gotthard guitarist Leo Leoni hired him for his CoreLeoni project where he recorded old Gotthard tunes, so the Blackmore connection has done his career some big favours. All of this makes the band’s starting position for the release of their new album even better than it was for the last album. Now, I found it hard to get impressed by II – I just didn’t think that album had enough strong songs and the Power Metal vibes were too many and too prominent for my taste. Looking into the credits for this album, ex- Helloween and current Masterplan guitarist Roland Grapow is responsible for both production, mixing and mastering  – just like the predecessor so I’m guessing sound wise this will be much of the same.

Opener and latest single “World Gone Mad” (true that!) sounds pretty much the way I had expected – hard, punchy and rough Heavy Metal that goes straight for the throat. But it’s also a big track, split up in three parts with a length of almost seven minutes. But it never gets boring or hard-listened. Quite the contrary, the tune holds some very memorable melodies and a very catchy refrain – a very good song. The title track and first single follows with a fat punch and a fist-in-your-face attitude and aggression but it’s not without melodies at all. So it’s a powerhouse of a song but it’s still very memorable. While it’s not even a little bit hit-laden, it does stick. Great track. “Not In A Place Like This” is slower in pace, heavy, dark and tough – and it strikes hard. But again, it’s still very melodic and the chorus is both catchy and effective. Three songs in and so far the album sounds a lot better than I had expected.

“When A Hero Takes A Fall” is upbeat and rough Hard Rock meets Metal. Fat riffing, fast drums, in-your-face rhythm and a distinct melody makes brings the song home. It’s a good song but not as good as the previous three. “Forevermore” is again Hard Rock meets Metal but sports a bigger groove than the rest of the tunes. It’s driven and straight-forward but not as hard as the previous tracks. It feels more nuanced and holds a more melodic rocking melody line – maybe my favorite one so far. Great! “The Way I’ll Remember” starts out with only a piano but turns heavy pretty fast. The verses come in a ballad-like way but when the chorus arrives, the tune toughens up. The track comes in a mid pace, heavy but very melodic and the refrain sticks on really fast. Very good. “Fallin'” goes in a slow to a mid tempo and is heavy in a calmer way. It’s still Metal in a punchy way but also very melodic and it actually reminds me some of Saffire. A soft middle-break brings up the dynamics and the memorable chorus makes the tune score a goal. Very good indeed.

“King’s Reborn” is a tough and ballsy Hard Rock/Metal stomper with a very hard beat. It grabs you by the throat, it spits in your face and it’s kicking ass but it also comes with a very strong main melody. Yes, I like this one too. “Long Way To Go” is an uptempo, straight-forward hard rocker with a big punch, kind of like a more Metal take on 70’s Rainbow – very direct and distinct. Good tune. “The Edge Of Darkness” is Metal with a progressive touch where the riffing reminds me of Symphony X. It’s robust, heavy and blasting – total Metal. Ok tune. The progressive, Symphony X influenced Metal continues with “Wait No Prayers For The Dying”. The tune is a real gut-puncher but big, catchy melodies are also brought along for the ride here – a winner! They close the album with “All I Have Left” a heavy and slow Metal ballad – dark and melancholic. That said, the tune do comes with a fat punch and a good drive. Great guitar lines, extremely memorable melodies and a brilliant refrain makes this tune one of the finest moments on this album.

Quality wise, this album is a big step forward for the band. Everything’s better here – the song writing, production, arrangements. The songs are more nuanced and structured and more memorable. Style wise, it’s pretty much the same as on the last album – Heavy Metal and Hard Rock with Power Metal tendencies and a modern touch on the production. One on one, I can’t find one bad track here but listening to the album back to back it tends to become a bit samey and the band would definitely benefit from varying themselves a bit more. As it is now, almost all songs tends to float together somehow which makes it a bit difficult to separate them, to remember which song is which. However, without having heard one note from their debut but noticing the development from the last one to this one, I’d think it’s safe to say that the Lords Of Black has released their best album to date. I’m already quite interested in hearing how album # 4 will sound.

6/10

More Lords Of Black reviews:

II

Tracklist:

1. World Gone Mad
I – History Of Gods
II – The Slaughter Of Innocence
III – World Gone Mad
2. Icons Of The New Days
3. Not In A Place Like This
4. When A Hero Takes A Fall
5. Forevermore
6. The Way I’ll Remember
7. Fallin’
8. King’s Reborn
9. Long Way To Go
10. The Edge Of Darkness
11. Wait No Prayers For The Dying
12. All I Have Left

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