There are two things I know about power metal: that all the best power metal bands are Australian, and that all the best power metal is simply thrash metal in disguise. If there’s any doubt concerning either of these axioms, one listen to Fallen Idols—the fifth full-length from Sydney’s Lord—should quickly lay any concerns to rest.
Born out of the ashes of cult heavy metallers Dungeon, Lord—led by the eponymous Lord Tim—have spent the last fifteen years building a reputation as one of Australia’s premier power metal exports. Although previous efforts—especially 2013’s Digital Lies—have gone a long way towards establishing them in the genre’s upper echelons, none have come across quite as convincingly as Fallen Idols. Put simply, Fallen Idols is not only crowning achievement of Lord’s career, but one of the best power metal records in recent years.
As implied in the opening paragraph, power metal works best when it borrows liberally from metal’s more extreme genres—particularly thrash metal. Lord have always had a nugget of thrash at the center of their sound, but they’ve have cranked up the more extreme elements significantly for their fifth outing. Opener, “United (Welcome Back)” sees the band brandishing the ferocity of (one of the good) modern Megadeth albums (think Endgame (2009)) alongside with a soaring, anthemic call to arms that immediately establishes their prowess as over the modern power metal genre. “Immortal” initially recalls the Dream Evil song of the same name, with its pounding stomp, before transitioning into more grandiose territory, reminiscent Black Majesty at the peak of their prowess, and “Edge of the World”, with its foundation of blast-beats and blackened vocals recalls Destruction at their most brutal.
Lest it become exhausting, Fallen Idols doesn’t go full force all the time. The title track treads more traditional—though still thrashy—melodic power metal territories and “Counting Down the Hours” is an Iron Maiden-style power ballad packed with extra cheese, while “Chaos Reigning” splits the difference by blending the best of modern Judas Priest with the sound of Symphony X at their most direct. There’s also “Wilder than the Wind” that again invokes Megadeth-style guitar playing, except in a mid-paced rock n’ roll setting, and “Nod to the Old School”, which pays respects to old-school speed metal and the band’s own history, by sprinkling in a number of lyrical references to old dungeon songs. Yet, while Lord have (at least) one foot set firmly in the past, Fallen Idols sounds completely fresh, due as much to its ecclectic songwriting as its punchy modern production, which both go a long way toward establishing the band as one of the more robust practitioners of modern power metal.
With Black Majesty seemingly on the wane and Vanishing Point all but inactive, the Australian power metal throne is effectively free for the taking and Lord have done just that with Fallen Idols. With six years between records, the band were faced with loosing much of the momentum they built up off the back of Digital Lies. However, Fallen Idols not only delivers on that promise, but completely doubles down on it. With their fifth full-length offering, Lord have make a forceful comeback, a successful play at the Australian power metal crown and silenced any lingering skeptics, all in one phenomenal fell swoop.