In the case of Chilean powerhouse vocalist Ronnie Romero, dreams really do come true. Plucked from relative obscurity by Ritchie Blackmore to front a new version of Rainbow, Romero was thrust into the spotlight and soon found himself performing songs originally performed by his idol: Ronnie James Dio. Long-time Rainbow fans who had given up on ever hearing ‘Stargazer’ performed live again could be found weeping in the aisles as Romero totally nailed the ultimate Rainbow track night after night. Romero now finds himself in the position of being the go-to guy for collaborations, his work with Adrian Vandenberg is already out there for all to devour, as well as a new Michael Schenker Group album looming large on the horizon. For now, Romero is back (after a brief hiatus) with guitarist Tony Hernando for a new album as part of the band that first brought him attention: Lords Of Black.
More of a metal band than the classic rock vibes of Rainbow and Vandenberg, Lords Of The Black is one of the new legions of harder-edged bands that find themselves on the home of melodic rock; Frontiers Music. More of a double-bass drum sound than a bank of keyboards. Hernando is not overshadowed at all by Romero and makes for a genuine guitar-hero-in-the-making. Riffs and solos by the bucketload, and that’s just the opening track ‘Dying To Live Again’. Hernando is not a one-trick pony and has many tricks up his sleeve, he kicks off ‘Into The Black’ with a deep, cutting, guitar riff which soon leads into a nice melodic change of pace, and changes multiple times throughout. Romero quickly shows the form that first brought him to the attention of Blackmore on a track with a futuristic undertone, and before the listener knows it, they are reaching for the volume control and turning it skywards.
The engine room team of Jo Nunez (drums) and Dani Criado (bass) are no slouches either, with the likes of ‘Deliverance Lost’ being propelled forward by their exhilarating work, and ‘Sacrifice’; well, that’s all about the bass. The latter is a perfect example of how much of an influence iconic outfits like Rainbow and Whitesnake still have even in 2020; for although the track has a rough, metallic edge – the melodic hooks are steeped in the glory days of Deep Purple offshoots. ‘Closer To You Fall’ has a killer-staccato guitar tone through its opening moments, and again, it’s the stellar drum work from Jo Nunez which catches the eye on a track with a few leanings (musically at least) towards a modern progressive-metal vibe. This continues (to an extent) with the opening minutes of ‘Shadows Kill Twice’, a track where Romero delivers a vocal performance that recalls a less-harsh Dave Mustaine. Hernando delivers another top-quality six-string performance and seems equally at home bringing a tougher edge to his playing as he is with the more melodic side, ‘Disease In Disguise’ being another great example of his full range – hints of both Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy here and there.
Weighing in at ten-minutes plus, ‘Alchemy Of Souls’ is the epic cut that Lords Of Black hint at all album. There is an overpowering sensation throughout the album that someone special is on the way; it arrives in the shape of ‘Alchemy Of Souls’. In some regards, it’s like a suite, as it has many different parts all combining to make one special piece of music. After a few minutes of Spanish guitar noodling from Hernando, the riffs come in and blow down the doors. The bass-licks are fatter than Santa Claus after his rounds on Christmas Eve, and the vocals simply soar. Romero delivers a fantastic performance which at times shows great restraint, he knows when to unleash his powerful voice, and when to play it cool. Epic in all its majesty, think Dio’s ‘Egypt (The Chains Are On)’ with hints of ‘Stargazer’ and even Maiden’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, all wrapped up in modern production values, and you have the defining Lords Of Black track.
‘Alchemy Of Souls Pt. 2’ will need to be something special indeed to top this one.
Connect with Lords Of Black here.
Review – Dave