The supergroup featuring Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, ex-Lords of Black), Mike Terrana (ex-Rage, Axel Rudi Pell) and prolific songwriter and multi-musician Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear, Allen/Lande, Free Fall) have returned with a sophomore release "A New Evil." With Karlsson there is automatic relief that the songwriting will be top notch. Terrana is the consummate professional and one of the finest drummers. Romero's roughened, but smooth Dio-esque vocals took the world by storm when the first Lords of Black was issued back in 2014. "A New Evil" presents solid songwriting, albeit a bit repetitive, comparable to the 2017 self-titled debut.
"A New Evil" represents another batch of stellar songwriting from Karlsson, who is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to towing the line between hard rock and power metal (now defined by labels as "melodic metal" as opposed to what..."non melodic metal"?). The guitars have the perfect crunch to blur the power metal line and the melody and song structure (verse, chorus, verse) keeps the sound heavily grounded in the hard rock realm. "Bring Me Home" and "A New Evil" perfectly capture that balance (and you can check them out in the players at the bottom).
"Don't Stand In My Way" gets the mood going right out of the gate, setting the tone for the first half of the release. The album loses a little momentum when it gets to "Heartbeat," but the power ballad is nothing short of brilliant. After that, the material starts to get a bit stagnant and repetitive, save for "My Dearest Fear" (with those well placed pauses and ridiculously fun guitar solo). "Our Own Heroes" and "You Against the World" are solid, but don't particularly stand apart from the rest of the album.
Now on to the unpopular opinion: While Ronnie Romero does evoke memories of Dio, there is a part of me that wishes he would drop the grit just a bit and sing smooth, as I know he is quite capable. Take "Heartbeat" for example, the power ballad of the album. I realize this is a style that makes him unmistakable, but that grit needs to be brandished like a weapon in the heaviest material. Here, it almost feels like Ronnie is intentionally adding it rather than it sounding natural. By no means is this a major problem, nor does it make Romero's voice any less amazing. Rather this is just a personal preference and a bit of an annoyance because it detracts a bit from giving "A New Evil" listens from start to finish with no interruptions, as it deserves.
"A New Evil" represents the typical hard rock/power metal style that listeners expect from such an abundant songwriter like Magnus Karlsson. However, being so prolific means that you have to have the right hooks all the time to keep the listener engaged for the entirety of the release. The album starts with a bang and sustains over the first half, but sadly, the second half becomes a bit repetitive (oddly, I enjoyed listening to each half separately at different times) failing to be as memorable. It all sounds so negative, but "A New Evil" is a solid release with solid songwriting. You can't go wrong with the musicians involved, however with high talent comes high expectations.
Label: Frontiers Music Srl (order album here)
Release Date: October 11, 2019
1. Don’t Stand In My Way
2. Bring Me Home
3. A New Evil
4. The Night People Rise
5. Save Your Prayers
7. Our Own Heroes
8. No Matter How Hard We Fall
9. My Dearest Fear
10. You Against The World
11. All We Got
Check out the video clip for "A New Evil" here:
Check out the lyric video for "Bring Me Home" here:
Check out the video clip for "No Matter How Hard We Fall" here: