One of the common phrases in metal that I have absolutely no interest in challenging is that power metal is pretty much dead. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a few interesting albums being made each year but the genre seems to have abandoned any attempts to expand, modify, or innovate on the basic formula. You’re basically stuck with looking for bands who execute the classic sounds really well, listening to bands who are the classic sound and are still good, or hunt around in the fringes for those few, wild-eyed, primal younglings that won’t quit. There are still a few bands out there, like Wandering Oak for example, who just refuse to let go of power metal and god bless them for doing that. Even though many seem content with the current state of things, these musicians still see the potential that the intersection between power metal, heavy metal, progressive metal, folk, black, death, and more can have for the genre.
Another band who is furiously clinging on to the potentials of power metal is Philadelphia’s Lör, whose 2017 In Forgotten Sleep is one of the decade’s hidden gems. Sure, it suffered a bit from its stifled production but it still contained some of the most exciting power metal ideas I had heard in ages, harking back to the golden age of American prog-power and the, pardon the pun, power it always held. Well, Lör are fucking back baby! Today, the 15th of May, saw the release of Edge of Eternity, their third release and let me tell you, things are more glorious than ever. There are still some production issues, especially on the drums, but everything else sounds much clearer and the wild, unrestrained, progressive dedication to riffs, solos, and vibrato vocals is very much still in play.
Check out the second track, “A Life Once Known” for example. You’re telling me you can listen to that opening riff, with its unexpected but essentially galloping opening riff, backed by those massive synths and not want to go and charge a castle? Impossible. You can instantly hear that the mix is much improved; while the drums still sound a bit muffled, the multiple guitar tracks can clearly be heard alongside the excellent bass (more on that soon). When you factor in how much is going on there, plus those synths, that’s quite an impressive feat. Very much present are also the excellent gang vocals which have always given Lör part of their distinct sound, used here along the verse and the chorus to make things that much more epic.
But Lör are about much more than “just” epicness; their whole raison d’etre is to introduce complexity and progressiveness to their brand of power metal that is more than just technicality and sheer size. Jump back to “Upon a Withered Heart” for example and listen to the really unique and off-kilter bass touches across the track. Just shy of ever erupting into a full bass solo, these little quips do so much to break up and enrich the track. Or, if it’s odd, Dream Theater like guitar/keyboard unisons you’re after, check out the sinister sounding “Ruin”, and the odd tonal choices made by the synths there. Things on Edge of Eternity are as varied as ever, if not more, the band seeming to explore even further into the complex take they’ve created from power metal and progressive.
Bottom line though, this album, like their previous releases, drips metal from every seam and power metal to boot. The guitars are fast, the vocals are high and powerful, emotions run wild, and many a note is played. And that’s maybe Lör’s most endearing quality: power metal is not just a basis for them, something to be hinted at in nostalgia or as a rudimentary starting point. Rather, it is their passion and their goal to make excellent power metal while also making it interesting and introducing some new ideas to it. That’s what makes them such a great band and this release such a great album: it is power metal first but it doesn’t forget that genres are there to be messed with, tweaked, and modified to make them unique.
Edge of Eternity released today, May 15. You can head on over to the band’s Bandcamp above to grab it. Please do! Support independent bands.