Two years ago, Lords of Black got caught in the spotlight primarily owing to their lead singer: Ronnie Romero had just risen to fame and had everyone’s eyes turned on him. They totally failed to disappoint. In fact, our jaws dropped to the floor: their third album Icon Of The New Days was an undoubtable masterpiece. If you missed it, do read our review published at the time here.
With such an achievement under their belt, the Spanish prog metals set the bar seriously high and it seemed pretty impossible that they could possibly up their game. Yet, this is exactly what they have done in their upcoming album Alchemy of Souls Pt.
They are not just any Spanish band; Lords of Black have powerfully got back in the game, claiming one of the leading places in the present progressive metal stage. In the absence of any new releases by the mighty Symphony X within the past five years, that void seems to have been filled: Lords of Black can only be compared with gods of the calibre of Michael Romeo and Russell Allen. The music genius displayed by Tony Hernando is mind boggling, and it is evident that guitar craftsmanship has been perfected by yet another master. We have the honour of being able to chat to him soon, so stay tuned for an exclusive interview with him.
The first two tracks from Alchemy of Souls Pt I were released as official videos on YouTube, preceding the release of the album on 6th November. ‘Dying To Live Again’ opens up the CD with a frantic guitar shredding solo followed by Romero’s instantly recognisable voice known to us from so many other bands by now (Rainbow, Vandenberg, Magnus Karlsson, The Ferrymen, CoreLeoni – to name a few), and still very specifically sounding in this particular band. He keeps in check that restrained power that only the Big Ones have, knowing when to unleash its fierceness and let the raw emotion go wild. With its pronounced melodic backbone, back chorus and strong instrumental canvas, this is the kind of song we’d have expected and hoped for from this band. And this is just the beginning.
‘Into The Black’, again, captures you from the first notes. Contagious intros are the specialty of Lords of Black; they grip you from the start and don’t let go, leaving you to want more. Another typical song for the band, with steady rhythm, displaying a clear, vocal-lead line and featuring some brilliant guitar solos. The next piece, ‘Deliverance Lost’, follows on from there with its classical heavy canvas. It feels like the voice tells a separate story, and it makes it a signature song for the band, very melodic and gradually developing its composition.
The intro to ‘Sacrifice’ could remind you of Van Halen with some modern keyboards, only to hit with full power and charge with that signature Lords of Black style: steady rhythm, leading melody line, perfect tune, and fantastic voice. As some of the tracks in their previous album, the rhythm and the guitar lines in this song, as well as the intro of the next one take us back to the best early years of Stratovarius (Dreamspace).
After the compulsory gripping intro, ‘Brightest Star’ unfolds a slow, passionate tune, overtaken by raw power and emotional vocals. The layered lead guitars are a particular pleasure to enjoy. With this track, the musicianship goes deeper, forming a more complicated, multi-layered composition, which is how the next track is set as well, ‘Closer To Your Fall’. There is a particular raw edge to it, and the intro carries the vibe of Symphony X’s latest album.
With ‘Shadows Kill Twice’, you will travel from a lyrical intro that could do justice to any of Yngwie Malmsteem’s best ballads with those beautiful layered guitars, to speedy power metal, delving into the territory of pure headbanging thrash. Which takes us to a track where they are genuinely reaching new levels: the grim, serious and raw ‘Disease In Disguise’. Here, Lords of Black are powerful, elaborate and deep. And just as you start settling into the multilayered progressive metal mood, they change direction with the blues infused ‘Tides Of Blood’: so surprisingly unexpectedly that it is almost tongue in cheek. Here, you will pretty much hear the young version of David Coverdale, just in the disguise of Ronnie Romero. Did we mention he can sing just about anything??
And just as you would start to wonder what the title track would be like, it hits you. This is the epic song worth waiting for, the nail in the coffin. ‘Alchemy Of Souls’ starts with the most beautiful acoustic Spanish guitar intro, followed by fierce heavy metal, only to melt again into acoustic guitar and vocal unity. You may catch a momentary reference to Metallica (“And the road becomes bride…” from ’Wherever I May Roam’), and, somehow, you realise that what you are listening to is of the same calibre: modern day classic in the making. The track will keep you guessing what might be coming up next with its ample choruses and changing melodies.
The ending of the album is short but brilliant, with a piano version of ‘You Came To Me’. Raw, emotional, melodic, pure perfection: like the album as a whole.
Here is yet another reason to pray for the pandemic to be over… so that bands can start touring again. Lords of Black will be a hell of a show, definitely not one to miss! So, in the meantime: volume on max!
- Dying To Live Again
- Into The Black
- Deliverance Lost
- Brightest Star
- Closer To Your Fall
- Shadows Kill Twice
- Disease In Disguise
- Tides Of Blood
- Alchemy Of Souls
- You Came To Me (Piano Version)