Released: 2004, Sonic Age Records
Finally, the new full-length album from the legendary Overlorde will hit these shores on December 17th. For those who haven’t followed this US band, you might be surprised to know that they formed way back in 1985. Their first release in 1987 was a 5-song EP released on their own label. However, the band broke up in 1988. As time passed the band developed a cult-like status and in 2000, the band members took note and decided to give it another go. They then recorded a 4-song demo called “Overlorde 2000”. Using that demo, the band successfully marketed themselves and achieved many glowing reviews. It took them nearly 4 years, but the end result, their signing to Sonic Age and the release of RETURN OF THE SNOW GIANT, was worth the wait.
After a neat bass and drums intro, the song “Snow Giant” begins. The song is total classic heavy metal with vocalist Bobby “Leather Lungs” Lucas belting out some Halford-like screams. This is one of the best tracks on here, as it was on their demo (as was the live version on MR VOL I). Since I’ve already written about some of the songs on RETURN OF THE SNOW GIANT, I’ll keep most of my comments to the ones not on the 2000 demo.
“Starcastle” is one of the newer songs and has some great moments including some killer drumming and the short clean guitar part at 1:15-1:27 breaks things up nicely. The solos near the end have a wah effect that sounds great. One funny thing I noticed on my first few listens, I thought the song was called “Sargasso” (as in The Sargasso Sea) and not “Starcastle” ha!!! “When He Comes” starts out slowly with bass and vocals. Once the song picks up speed it is more in the vein of “Snow Giant”. “Mark of the Wolf” is another of the new tracks and is easily one of the better new ones. It starts more laid back with some clean guitars mixed in. At 4mins in a neat guitar run rips in that divides the song between the more laid back part…and the killer parts! The song picks up with some very cool riffing and Bobby nearly overdoing the following of the notes with his screams. Then at about 5:30 it goes into a Dio/Sabbath moment similar to the clean parts on “Children of the Sea”. At nearly 9 minutes, this track manages to keep things changing and interesting without losing focus. Then there is “Trapped By Magic” which starts out with a catchy riff backed by some busy bass playing...I love this dude's bass playing, it's not often I notice the bass in a metal band it seems. The song’s main riff is hypnotic and is accompanied by a well-phrased vocal melody that made the song for me.
The only critical thing I can say about RETURN OF THE SNOW GIANT is that there are really only 6 new songs on the CD of 13 tracks (one of the 13 is an intro). The other songs are from the band’s demos. You could argue that these tracks never saw proper worldwide release, so putting them on what is their debut album is reasonable. However, I would have preferred an album filled with 13 new tracks and perhaps the older ones could have been put at the end as B-sides making for a 16+ song CD. Perhaps I’m too demanding, but after anticipating the release of this album since I first heard the Overlorde 2000 demo, I would have liked all new material. I will forgive all since RETURN OF THE SNOW GIANT rules!
Overlorde is recommended for those who like their metal true, ballsy, and classic. If you are into over-polished, over-produced happy metal, or just the brutal stuff, this is not a band for you unless you have an open mind. So tune in and hear what a real classic metal band sounds like…unpretentious yet courageous, aggressive yet melodic!