Lords Of Black
Released: 2016, Frontiers Records
When writing a CD review some bands make it easy by having some cool facts or features to discuss. Lords of Black in one such band. I don’t want to get bogged down talking about trivia and not spend any time discussing the music but these guys have some interesting points to discuss.
Formed in Spain a few years back this Power Metal band issued an independent debut back in 2014. At some point along the way Richie Blackmore discovered the vocalist, Ronnie Romero. In reality, Ronnie had been working in the underground of the Spanish Metal scene for many years, but admittedly, getting the gig as the singer of Rainbow instantly put him on the global metal map, much the way it did back in 1995 when Doogie White was plucked from relative obscurity to sing for Rainbow. Perhaps it is not surprising the band chose to cover the old 1978 Rainbow tune ‘The Lady In Lake’ as the bonus track.
Frontiers Records wasted no time signing Lords Of Black and in March of 2016 they have released their second album simply entitled II. That is a really weak, uninspired album title and has been used before by dozens of other bands, most notably, Axxis and Stratovarius. Frontiers does their usual high quality job enlisting artist Felipe Franco to create a very cool piece of cover art, four black kings holding some sort of baby dragons on chains. Roland Grapow gets enlisted as producer and the album sounds sonically flawless. The band is somewhat anchored by Tony Hernando who you may recognize as a solo artist on Lion Music and his time spent in Saratoga, one of Spain’s bigger Metal bands. Andy C. (drums) spent some years in Dark Moor and Saratoga, so despite being a ‘new’ band, really you have a collection of talented veterans of the Spanish scene.
Musically I’ll start with the most obvious asset, the voice of Ronnie Romero. After hearing this CD, I instantly heard what Blackmore heard to recruit this guy. I immediately rank him with the elite (in my opinion) second/third generation of Metal titan-vocalists; Doogie White, Jorn Lande, Russell Allen, DC Cooper, Tim Owens, Matt Barlow, Andy Frank, Oliver Hartman, Herbie Langhans, Rick Altzi and everyone who has every sung for Yngwie Malmsteen. Romero is that good. His grit, tone, range and power are perfect for Metal. He also reminds me of the finest qualities of Johnny Gioeli of Axel Rudi Pell.
Musically the band plays a very solid style of European Power Metal well-infused with melody. There are a few little hints of musical extras such a bit of piano, a bit of acoustic guitar, some under-current of keyboards, a bit of spoken word/narration, but by and large, this is a straight-up, full-on Metal album. The musicians in the band are not slouches. Check out the amazing shredding solo on the cut ‘Ghost of You’! There are so many highlights, too many too mention, such the relentless pace of ‘The Art Of Illusions-Part III, a 9+ minute epic that continues from the debut. If you need abroad, overall band comparison, I hear bits of Sinbreed, Silent Force, At Vance, Brainstorm and other bands in that style.
On paper Lords of Black have everything going for them, every advantage afforded to it, that many young bands would kill for. Fortunately, they bring the music to back it all up. Even if this were a new band with none of the higher-profile members and label support, I would still say this is a superb collection of Metal songs and would recommend it to any Metal fan. Lords of Black could be the sleeper hit of 2016 for those in the know.