Stumbling in funereal darkness, I’ve chanced upon the tomb of a long-forgotten Lord! Their only album, The Second Coming, was released in 1988. That’s a bit late for a Riffs from the Crypt post — generally, I try to reserve them for bands who had the talent to become pioneers in their respective genres (like Rat Attack), but were unable to break into the mainstream. But what’s special about Lord isn’t that they were groundbreaking in any way — rather, the reason this album deserves more attention is because it’s a culmination of everything that was good about metal in the 80’s. Nearly every song on the album seems to represent a different era of metal, from its hard rock roots to thrash metal, prog, and everything in between.
This is the most varied traditional heavy metal album I’ve ever heard. Variety is generally a good thing, but bands run the risk of stretching their talent too thin across too many genres. So, in order to play starkly different genres on the same album without it sounding like either: 1) trash or 2) a disconnected jumble, the band members must be extraordinarily gifted and versatile. Fortunately, Lord seeps talent from the pores, allowing them to play any genre with aplomb. Their greatest asset is undoubtedly the vocalist Guy Lord, who appears to have chameleons for vocal chords. Try this variety three-pack sampler on for size: Start with the album opener, “Promises”. It’s a wonderfully executed power ballad, a perfect bit of In Trance era Scorpions worship, and a bold choice to begin a metal album.
Next, flip to 8:21 for “Mr. Death”. Pipe organs herald the flaming arrival of aggressive thrash riffs, topped by the vocals of Mr. Lord, which have now assumed a maniacal warble worlds different from the sultry tones of “Promises”. Listen closely, and you might even hear the death metal growling in the spoken passage midway through the song.
Directly afterwards comes the last part of the trifecta, appropriately named “The End”. You might recognize this as a cover of The Doors, especially because Lord somehow managed to dig up Jim Morrison’s 17 year old corpse and make him sing like he did in his prime. Seriously, Guy Lord sounds almost criminally similar to Jim Morrison on “The End”, particularly in the opening verse. Morrison’s power, his subtle idiosyncrasies and tone — they’re all captured by the chameleons living inside Guy Lord’s throat. It’s massively cool, because Jim Morrison sounds fantastic in a metal band. Lord had the good sense to inject a thrashy riff and some squealing leads to a very understated song, but also had the tact to stay true to the spirit of the original song. The result is an updated version of “The End” that preserves the pensive schizophrenia of the song while also intensifying its chaotic violence.
All that in only three songs! This band is something special, and they’ve got more to offer. “Burnin’” and “Snow” are fairly standard but well-executed heavy metal songs, featuring energetic riffs and melodic, catchy solos. “Love Machine” is an interesting mix of thrashy riffs, crazy leads, and raunchy 80’s sleaze. Guy Lord pulls another chameleon here — Rob Halford appears to make a guest vocal appearance at 27:40. Amazing.
The final two songs are some of the best on an already stellar album. “Back to the Asylum” offers a potpourri of positively gnarly riffs across the metal spectrum, from slow and harrowing doom to menacing death metal to frenetic speed metal riffs. It’s all here. There’s even a nice newscast-style sample that spices up the atmosphere appropriately, complete with crazed laughs in the background. It’s touches like these that catapult The Second Coming from a good album to a great one. Every minute seems to carry something unexpected and exciting, and it makes for a deliciously lively and fun listen.
Finally, the album is capped by “Leather Queen”. It’s the perfect closer to an album encapsulating everything great about 80’s metal. The references to leather harken back to the metal culture of the early 80’s — no life ‘til leather! The leads sing out, screaming above absurdly catchy rhythm riffs. And all the while Guy Lord taps another vocal style — this time he croaks a gruff, tough-guy tone for the mids, switching to pure melodic croons for the highs. The song builds and builds before exploding into a climactic solo, one of those blissful please-don’t-ever-end solos that concludes the song on the highest possible point. It would be a great song in any position, but it works terrifically as a closer.
But perhaps the most quintessentially 80’s thing about The Second Coming is the album cover. The motorcycle, the hair, the glasses, the leather, the pose… That artifact alone would be enough to make this excavation worth it. But luckily for us, we’ve got 39 minutes of 80’s metal excellence to go along with it. If you’ve ever enjoyed anything about the 80’s, give this album a fair shake.