• Walking off the beaten path - A review of Lord Symphony's ''The End of Time''

    Lord Symphony - The End of Time (2016)

    Indonesian power metal sextet Lord Symphony had received some well-deserved international acclaim for its last studio album The Lord’s Wisdom, that had offered a great mixture of traditional high-speed European power metal inspired by early Helloween, bombastic symphonic metal in the key of Rhapsody of Fire and a unique touch of Javanese gamelan sounds. Two years later the band delivers its follow-up The End of Time which is a completely different album.

     

     First of all, the new record is almost only half as long as the predecessor and only includes eight songs including an alternative piano version of one song and an instrumental track. Gone are the long and ecstatic instrumental middle parts and especially the guitar solos have been cut for a much shorter and concise song writing based upon keyboards and vocals.

    The Javanese folk elements that gave this band such a fresh and unique identity have been dropped for a more prominent use of keyboards. Instead of offering bombastic classic elements, the keyboards have a very dominant electronic sound reminding of progressive rock acts of the seventies. Some keyboard sounds also recall video game soundtracks of the eighties and nineties in their more simplistic parts. The calmer tunes include calm and slightly melancholic piano sounds that fail to stand out or evolve.

    While earlier songs of the band had a very uplifting atmosphere and really fast instrumentation, the new tunes sound more grounded, mature and serious and often have a mid-tempo pace.

    The vocals are rarely as juvenile and high-pitched as on the predecessor and sound a little bit lower. The production of the record is also much more modern and is dominated by keyboard sounds and vocal effects. One has to get used to this unusual approach as first because some vocal lines sound quite mechanic and even robotic. Maybe this was intentional in relation to the conceptual idea dealing with the end of time that this album has a colder, more dystopian and quite progressive touch at times.

    While the predecessor recalled the classic Gamma Ray and Helloween of the eighties and nineties, the new one sounds more similar to what these bands are doing in the present.

    The songs need some time to open up to the listener because they sound quite different from what one might have been expecting. Among the better tracks, I would mention ‘’Save Me’’ that convinces with a passionate and addicting chorus. The most progressive song is the diversified instrumental ‘’Gate of Infinity’’ which is dominated by keyboard sounds reminding me of Iron Butterfly, King Crimson and Tangerine Dream. On the other side, the melodic ‘’Garden of Souls’’ and both the plugged and the piano version of ‘’Behind the Shadow of Lies’’ make me think of Bon Jovi ballads due to the similar vocal style, the surprisingly smooth pace and the melodic instrumentation in the key of classic hard rock ballads.

    One thing is for certain: Lord Symphony have the guts to walk off the beaten path. The idea to deliver a more serious melodic rock album inspired both by progressive and commercial sounds of the seventies and eighties and a few minor modern European power metal elements is quite courageous. The reason why this approach doesn’t work for me is because I’m missing a truly powerful tune on the album that grabs me emotionally. The underwhelming production with numerous irritating vocal effects and too dominant keyboard sounds doesn’t help either. While the keyboards and vocals sound at least inspired, the guitar work is unspectacular and the rhythm section even more disappointing. It’s great when a band tries out new things and I hope the Indonesian sextet will expand its fan base with this album but The End of Time clearly isn’t my cup of tea.

     

    Final rating: 57%

     

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