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LORDS OF BLACK Alchemy Of Souls Part I

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Wednesday, December 16, 2020 @ 7:42 AM


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LORDS OF BLACK
Alchemy Of Souls Part I

Frontiers Music Srl - 2020




In 2018, I reviewed the LORDS OF BLACK album Icons Of The New Days for KNAC.COM. I heard it via a download link provided in order to do the review. But I loved the album so much that I went out and bought the physical CD soon after I finished listening to the album and writing the review. It was that darn good!

In the two years since that album came out, LORDS OF BLACK singer Ronnie Romero left the band in order to focus on other projects including fronting the reconstituted RAINBOW with Ritchie Blackmore. LORDS OF BLACK guitarist Tony Hernando soldiered on, adding new singer Diego Valdez, but something was missing and the band never released any material.

Circumstances conspired for both Hernando and Romero to get back in touch and Romero was soon officially back in the fold. The liner notes for Alchemy Of Souls Part I includes a fuller breakdown of the past couple of years in an essay from Tony Hernando.

The fruits of their renewed collaboration have resulted in this new album and at times, Alchemy Of Souls Part I does a magnificent job of continuing the path the band was charting on Icons Of The New Days.

The album starts off in a blazingly fast and furious manner with the song "Dying To Live Again". At the same time, the track is highly melodic. The guitar riff that opens the song is an immediate earworm and Romero's vocals comes through as powerful as ever. The song's chorus is pretty catchy as well.

I was a little more hesitant with the song "Into The Black". At first I wasn't too sure how well the chorus blended with the remainder of the song. I guess I thought the lyric sounded a bit too preachy for my own personal tastes. However, once I listened to the song again, the concerns I had faded away as the song felt far more fully integrated than my first impressions led me to believe.

The speedy pacing continued on the song "Deliverance Lost". I do appreciate the way the songs get your blood racing but for some reason, I just couldn't really get into this track that much. I could pretty much say the same about the song "Brightest Star" as well.

If you are wondering why I said the album at times reaches the same heights of the band's previous release, you get an initial glimpse into my thinking on the track "Sacrifice". The song starts off with a bit more musical restraint in the intro, but like a snap of the fingers, the tempo is off to the rock and roll races. And the chorus has a fantastic hook to it. But there was a bit of a pronunciation issue that I'm stuck to explain whether it was the use of creative license or simply the inability to say the word "ultimate" correctly. It appears in the chorus and each time it was sung, it took me out of the song for a minute. I'm attributing that to my love of words and language so it wasn't a particular deal breaker for me with the song. As I noted, I loved pretty much everything else surrounding the song.

"Closer To Your Fall" rocks out start to finish and the song has a fully developed musical palette. I love the lyric and the full on band performance for this track. Tony Hernando's production on the album gets a nice representative track here. MASTERPLAN's Roland Grapow mixed and mastered the album.

One song that really stood out to me as a critical component for making the album as good as I eventually determined it to be was "Shadows Kill Twice". The song's title alone gets one's imagination engine running. But once the song actually starts playing, it's like an event or something. The track opens with a basic piano playing that is then joined by a plaintive guitar. That intro then gives way to a far reaching and blazing rock soundtrack. The overlay of Romero's vocals and the way they are dramatized give the song a kind of darkness that appealed to me. Hernando's solo is outstanding, both restrained and electric all rolled into one. Even the slight linguistic challenge at one point in the lyrics matters little because this is a killer showcase for LORDS OF BLACK!

But don't think that this is where the album ends in terms of quality. "Shadows Kill Twice" is followed by "Disease In Disguise" that has another great shaded vocal take from Romero. There's a touch of "evil" to his vocal here and I loved it. And the music from Hernando, bassist Dani Criado and new drummer Jo Nunez gives the song that additional lift to make the song another standout. The other side of Romero's vocally emotional range is demonstrated on the closing song "You Came To Me". Billed as the "piano version" (which would lead one to believe there are two versions of the song but my CD only has this version), the piano soundtrack combines sublimely with the highly emotive vocal track that Romero sang. Going out on a softer note is not usually how I like to see an album end but it doesn't lessen how powerfully this song comes across.

The song "Tides Of Blood" manages to hit hard and fast right out of the gate. It's extremely fast moving but works in a much heavier tone to the music at the same time. The ten minute epic title track starts in with a nearly two minute unadorned guitar intro before a burst of heavy rocking music that soon fades into a slower tempo. The vocals take the forefront from there and the music gets a lot harder hitting once more. By the way, the song never drags so when it ends, you don't feel like you have been dragged kicking and screaming through ten minutes. The end actually comes as more of a surprise than anything.

I had to put in a bit more work this time around in order to to fully appreciate Alchemy of Souls Part I. A couple of songs that just didn't coalesce for me and a couple of lyrical quirks that kind of annoyed. But this new LORDS OF BLACK album still manages to be a damn fine entertaining record overall and shows that the partnership between Tony Hernando and Ronnie Romero remains particularly vibrant still.

4.2 Out Of 5.0


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