Overlorde - Return of the snow giant 4.5/5

Reviewed: 3-25-05


1. And the battle begins...
2. Snow giant
3. Hell hath no furry
4. Starcastle
5. When he comes
6. Metallic madness
7. Blackness
8. Ogre wizard
9. Mark of the wolf
10. My disease
11. Trapped by magic
12. Colossus (Island of the cyclops)
13. Overlorde

From the urban wasteland of New Jersey, cryogenically frozen since the 80s, all hail the mighty Overlorde!!! As I understand it, Overlorde first kicked around the northeast nearly 20 years ago, amassing a dedicated cult following but never capturing the elusive record deal or reaching the leatherclad masses. After a lengthy hiatus, a 4 song demo recorded in 2000 began the buzz, garnering superlative reviews from the metal media. I first encountered Overlorde's energetic brand of traditional, true metal at the farewell installment of the Powermad festival in Baltimore in August 2001, where they stole the show with a searing set that shamed many of the "name" acts on the bill. For the next 3 1/2 years, I anxiously chomped at the bit, awaiting the band's full-length debut CD. Now, thanks to the good folks at Greece's Sonic Age Records (why didn't a bigger label snap these guys up?), 'Return of the snow giant' has been unleashed in all of its splendor.

Make no mistake, this is an absolute monster of a CD. Those who think that all the great 80s riffs have been used up will be astonished by the inexhaustible array of incredible riffs churned out by Mark Edwards' Flying V. Any of these riffs would have been right at home on Metal Blade's classic Metal Massacre series (volumes 1-9, naturally) in the 80s, but the great thing is that, with one or 2 exceptions, none of these riffs sound recycled or feel like cloning of marquee acts from that golden time. Then there's vocalist Bobby "Leather Lungs" Lucas, whose resume highlights heretofore consisted of a stint in Seven Witches and an LMP power/prog band called Exhibition a few years back. Well, Leather Lungs' performance on 'Return of the snow giant' lays waste to anything he's ever done before, and promises to relegate 95% of metal vocalists to their psychotherapist's chair for inferiority/inadequacy issues. The man is simply brilliant, singing with power, control and perfect pitch, while conjuring up bloodcurdling shrieks reminiscent of vintage Eric Adams.

From a songwriting standpoint, 'Return of the snow giant' delivers gem after gem, with a healthy dose of relentless, mostly uptempo smashers ("Snow giant", "Hell hath no fury", "Blackness", "Ogre wizard", and "Overlorde" come to mind) offset by a few tasty epic numbers ("Mark of the wolf", "Colossus (Island of the cyclops)") and some power-riffing midtempo grinders ("Starcastle") to boot. Aside from a couple of merely average tracks towards the end of this 13 song, 60 minute offering, this collection of songs is just about perfect. Lyrically, the band cover well worn territory of ogres and giants, kings and wizards, and even Sinbad(!), but do so in an entertaining, storytelling manner that suits the material well.

If you have any affinity for 80s U.S. metal, then this CD is a must. I cannot recall hearing a better new CD this year, and 'Return of the Snow Giant' seems a lock for my Top 10 list for 2005. My only regret is that there were no Overlorde CDs in the 80s. So many years have been lost, but M.E. & Company are making up for lost time in a big way. The last word goes to the band, whose eponymous track includes the fitting rallying cry: "Across the sea, amidst the horizon/Overlorde forever binds us".




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