Album review: LORDS OF BLACK – Alchemy Of Souls II

Frontiers [Release date 15.10.21]

Fifth album from metallers, Lords Of Black, the Ronnie Romero/ Tony Hernando band.

They brand themselves as a “Progressive” Power Metal band. You can see strong hints of how this plays out when first viewing the song titles – ‘What’s Become Of Us’, ‘How Long Do I Have Now, ‘No Hero is Homeless’ – all suggest a measure or more of introspection.

It’s a lyrical approach that has become prevalent among many bands in the wake of the Covid pandemic, and perhaps too in the face of the worldwide Climate Change narrative.

There’s a heavy load to bear sometimes, But Alchemy II is far from downbeat.

Almost every track has a lot of moving parts, and the ability of Hernando and producer, Roland Grapow to create a cohesive whole is very impressive.

In fact, the album only threatens to go off the rails when the lyrics spill over into melodrama. The bombastic ‘The Maker Of Nothingness’ and ‘Before That Time Can Come’ are typical examples, …and yet, these are two of Hernando’s finest musical arrangements, … twinning up his axework, riding tandem with his alter ego, creating competing tensions… vocals and guitar moving at different speeds, yet staying side by side, with piano and synth motifs dropped into the mix from time to time. It’s almost impossible to peel back the layers. You just accept that it works.

Beyond that, the hugely catchy ‘Bound To You’ is an old fashioned (but heavily metalised) love song, with touches of yesterday’s “foot on the monitor” metal. Again, Hernando shows great invention in the arrangements, overlaying the tough as teak riff with a dancing synth motifs.

It’s a cool companion to ‘Death Dealer’s symphonic clash of sounds, and the adventurous heavy metal axework on ‘Prayers Turned to Whispers’.

There’s no doubt that the band has moved up a few steps on the stairway to heavy metal stardom, but on Alchemy II, Hernando is the hero. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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