Album review: LORDS OF BLACK – Alchemy Of Souls Part 1

LORDS OF BLACK – Alchemy Of Souls Part 1

Frontiers [Release date 12.11.20]

Album number 4 from Spanish metallers, Lords Of Black, founded by virtuoso Spanish guitarist and songwriter, Antonio Hernandez.

There’s been the usual pack shuffling as members come and go over the years since formation in 2014. Now you see him, now you don’t, now you see him again vocalist, Ronnie (Rainbow) Romero, the man with the three octave range and a voice of unequalled power, but whose vocals would be difficult to identify in a line up, is back as the band’s frontman.

The album is something of a mixed bag. Underlying every other track is a feeling of urgency, a controlled dash for glory, a well planned sprint to the finishing line. They are all propelled by bold, thrusting riffs, each carrying a sense of threat, but they never truly develop into memorable metal.

Fernando’s guitarwork is high calibre, but a sense of sameness creeps in as ‘Dying To Live Again’, ‘Deliverance Lost’ and ‘Closer To Your Fall’ stomp past you, occasionally changing pace, but never slowing down enough to make an indelible impression.

Still, a handful of tracks offer a form of redemption. ‘Sacrifice’ reins back on the BPMs to great effect, never losing its edge or direction. The commercially inclined ‘Brightest Star’ could be a heavy metal Whitesnake, or a more accessible Masterplan.

And, as you might expect, the epic, grandstanding, ten minute title track is the one we’ve all been waiting for. Primed by the improvisational strum of a Flamenco guitar, they blaze a this-is-how-far-we’ve-come path through thundering, post-Hammerfall musical theatre, giving us a close-up and personal view of their musical chops en route. It would have been a fine way to close the album. Had they not chosen to finish, strangely, with a “piano version” of ‘You Came To Me’. The quiet after the storm, perhaps. ***

Review by Brian McGowan

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