What can you say about Ronnie Romero that hasn't been said so many times in recent days? The guy is like a machine - a Spanish Ronnie James Dio who is half the size (yeah...) and with just as much power. Lords of Black wowed the world on the self titled debut in 2014, to the point where even Ritchie Blackmore said "hey, I need this guy singing for Rainbow." Propelled by Romero's success, Lords of Black issued the impressive "II," and now the more impressive "Icons of the New Days" - an album that truly defines the future of the band.
Almost forgotten in all the Ronnie Romero hoopla surrounding this band, is the songwriting genius of Tony Hernando - a guy who used to play for one of Spain's greatest - Saratoga. Hernando chooses to weave old with new and has a more global, forward thinking approach than his former band. On "Icons of the New Days," the songs are stronger in terms of memorability the the band's two previous efforts (strong as they were). It certainly helps that he is aided by the brilliant Roland Grapow (MasterPlan) in both writing, recording and producing - and Grapow's keen songwriting mind (the one that has crafted such amazing hymns as "Crystal Night" and "Soulburn") has only enhanced the material of Lords of Black.
With "Icons," you can expect the same style ("World Gone Mad," "Icons Of The New Days" and "When A Hero Takes A Fall" all to formula), but with added modern elements, most notably in "Not in a Place" like this - a track that is linear in its flow, but has some modern zigzags. Drummer Andy C.'s synthesizer work on this particular track is remarkable. Other favorites are the punchy "Fallin'," the massiviely riff-alicious "The Edge of Darkness" and the epic near 12 minute rock journey "All I Have Left." The album really represents another chapter in the persistent elevation of songwriting - where the riff is king and melody is the key.
The album also amps up the average song length, in the same fashion as "II," as the band starts expanding the breadth of its sound. "Icons" sports a hefty 5:48 average and 9 minutes more than "II" and 12 minutes more than "Lord of Black." Why does this matter? Well, if you are a listener (like myself) that like the quicker surgical strike - the 6, 9 and 11 min songs may be a bit too much (though - as stated above - "All I Have Left" is an epic journey and worthy of the same attention as an 11 minute Maiden track).
"Icons of the New Days" represents the zenith in the short discography of Lords of Black, with stellar songwriting and catchy melodies once again at the core. You may find the track lengths a bit daunting if you prefer the quick strikes, but Hernando, Romero and company are so masterful in the performances that the 1 hour, 12min album is over leaving you craving for another go. Lords of Black is simply one of the best hard rock/power metal acts around.
Label: Frontiers Music Srl (2018)
1. World Gone Mad
2. Icons of the New Days
3. Not in a Place Like This
4. When a Hero Takes a Fall
6. The Way I'll Remember
8. King's Reborn
9. Long Way to Go
10. The Edge of Darkness
11. Wait No Prayers for the Dying
12. All I Have Left