If there’s one band from this country that does epic well, it’s LORD. So when they decide to record a sequel to the 2005 Dungeon track “Tarranno del Mar”, a long-standing live favourite, they don’t just do an EP, they do an enormous EP that’s even longer than their last two albums! To be fair, the original intention was to split this into two, but time and budget constraints forbade it, so “Return of the Tyrant” clocks in at a whopping 65 minutes, which ain’t bad for a CD with only three new songs on it.
The first of these is the title track, an immense 10-minute saga into which LORD cram almost every trick they’ve ever pulled and then some: crunchy guitars, catchy riffs, soaring vocals, big melodies, huge solos, cheesy voice acting and finally an epic dose of orchestration that makes this perhaps the biggest sounding song this band has ever recorded. And that’s saying a lot. If ever there was one song that could encapsulate a band, “Return of the Tyrant” is the one that represents LORD, and there’s another two versions — a radio edit and an orchestral one — included just in case one isn’t enough. The other pair of newies are covers. Both are relatively faithful to the originals and both show the band taking something of a departure from their usual style. “Of Sins and Shadows” is a Symphony X song and features extended keyboard soloing for the first time on a LORD recording. For such a guitar-oriented band, this is a refreshing change and works so well here, the question has to asked: will there be more in future? Next, they slip into melodic AOR mode for a run through the 80s classic “(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight” with vocals handled by bassist Andy Dowling. As always, the covers are done with aplomb and deep respect for the originals and show LORD’s versatility.
If those songs are a departure, the rest of the tracks are a complete digression – unplugged versions of tracks from the past two LORD albums as well as of the Dungeon songs “Against the Wind” and “Paradise”. For a band that has pretty much stayed completely away from acoustics in the past, you have to question whether they are capable of pulling this off. Metal songs don’t always translate well to the unplugged format, and to a degree that’s the case here too. “100 Reasons” and “Paradise” misfire, but the others come across well: “Rain” has some great guitar play-off that actually reminded me a little bit of Tommy Emmanuel’s Up From Down Under, and “New Horizons” is probably better done this way than in its original form. Considering how heavy it is normally, “Eternal Storm” somehow works too.
Overall this is a pretty valid experiment that really shows the depth of talent LORD has and the risks they are willing to take in the name of their music.
1. Return of the Tyrant
2. Of Sins and Shadows
3. (I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight
4. Against the Wind
6. 100 Reasons
8. Eternal Storm
9. New Horizons
10. Return of the Tyrant (orchestral mix)
11. Return of the Tyrant (edit)