March 11, 2024

Romero and Hernando seem to fit hand in glove and Mechanics Of Predacity is further proof of the special synergy they have.

I confess I hadn’t come across the noun ‘predacity’ before doing this review (instead, the adjective form of ‘predacious’ or ‘predatory’ is more familiar), but it’s an intriguing title and the press release explains the album concept as follows: ‘The narrative unfolds as a contemplation of how individuals, tribes, nations, and entities engage in an unending cycle of predation. It fearlessly addresses the harsh reality that greed, power, and malevolence have consistently fueled conflicts throughout history’. Well, such serious topics beat tired clichés such as ‘Please don’t leave me, baby’ in my book! And thankfully, that weighty subject-matter is matched by an hour of equally weighty and intense metal.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Lords Of Black being formed, and the two iconic figures that were there in 2014 – guitarist Tony Hernando and vocalist Ronnie Romero – are still there today and producing their unique mix of power, progressive and traditional metal, but always with a keen eye for melody. Mechanics Of Predacity represents another excellent chapter in the band’s history and it might well be their best release so far.

The album opens with the lead single, For What Is Owed To Us. An acoustic intro gives way to an electric guitar that increases in volume expectantly before a sleazy main riff bursts in. The song races along at a furious speed, with Dani Criado on bass and Jo Nunez on drums pounding out a fierce rhythm. This high energy power metal piece bookmarks the album along with the equally fast and frenetic closing track, Born Out Of Time, that has shades of Rainbow’s Light in The Black to it. It’s certainly an effective and impactful way to open and close matters.  

Lords Of Black: Criado, Nunez, Romero and Hernando

What Is Owed To Us is revealed as a curious choice as the lead single when you hear the next track, Let The Nightmare Comes, which surely was a better choice. It has the same high energy as the opener (albeit at a slightly slower pace), a bunch of mean riffs and a crescendo of vocal parts that arrive at the epic and anthemic chorus.  It’s a brilliant earworm of a song and showcases everything that is good about Lords Of Black. It’s a tough call for the highlight of the album between Let The Nightmare Comes and I Want The Darkness To Stop. The latter is less obviously commercial but has one of the best guitar riffs that I’ve heard in recent years. It’s one of those riffs that is so good it almost ruins the song because you’re just waiting for it to return again!

The unfortunate side effect of those two outstanding songs is that good solid rockers such as  Let it Burn or Obsessions Of The Mind seem a little lightweight despite being decent enough. In reality, there really isn’t a dud track on the album. There are further strong tracks such as Crown Of Thorns which has a lovely Dio-era Rainbow feel to it, and the excellent Can We Be Heroes Again which is probably the one track where the band push their boundaries and do something a little unexpected. It’s lengthy and almost languid melodic phrasing reminded me stylistically of Bowie in songs like Heroes or Absolute Beginners.

As a prog fan, I’m always drawn like a moth to a flame to longer songs. Lords Of Black have nearly always included one circa ten-minute opus in their releases and Mechanics Of Predacity is no exception. A World That’s Departed does in fact breaks the eleven-minute barrier, although it is subdivided into three parts. It’s a complex prog metal piece, and it has some very good moments – Hernando’s solo following the piano interlude is superb, for example – but the track never quite takes off in my mind. I sense their strength is in five or six-minute extended pieces and they overstretch themselves when pushing beyond that.

Romero is a singer in high demand that can effortlessly cross genres, but it seems to me that he’s most at home with the epic metal compositions of Hernando. Romero and Hernando seem to fit hand in glove and Mechanics Of Predacity is further proof of the special synergy they have. Not to be missed.