The main problem when writing a review on Lord Of The Lost’s new album was to choose the narrative form. I really like Harms’s creativity, professionalism, and the pedantry of his approach to the composing, performance and presentation of the material, and after listening to the new release I was so much itching to write a maximally complete song-by-song review … But the thing is that for you to familiarize yourself with all of the LOTL’ new material from beginning to end, including the “Judas” album itself and the bonuses to it, you will have to listen to 70 tracks with a total duration of more than four and a half hours. Yeah, no kidding. Some other artists can hardly count such a lot of material in their entire career, but Harms and Co. just up and release an album in such a format. That’s crazy! I never cease to admire this man’s talent and productivity.
I really should sing fewer praises and concentrate on the music, but I’m afraid this cannot be fully avoided. So I’ll try to be as brief as it is possible when describing such a large-scale work.
Album: “Judas” (2 CD)
So, let’s start with the base: the double album “Judas” conventionally divided into two parts, “Damnation” and “Salvation”, the first one of which, according to the musicians, comprised the “gloomier” compositions, while the second part contained the “light” ones. In actual fact, however, the difference is formal and results, in my opinion, rather from the possibility of using the “dark” and “light” sides to the best effect by the cover design.
Already at the moment when the “Priest” and “For They Know Not What They Do” singles were released it was clear that it was going to be probably the least electronic album by Lord Of The Lost. In their previous album “Thornstar” it was already noticeable that the band was shifting away from the hard Electronic-Industrial sound of “Empyrean” towards gothic passages, developing the ideas expressed in their early albums. In this regard, “Judas” can be considered a certain absolute value in the development of those very ideas. Here there is even less synth’s than in “Thornstar”. At the same time, the album is more integral, monumental, and pompous. All of this doesn’t mean that it is better or worse. Everyone decides for themselves. As for me, I would find it difficult now to answer this question. The unique thing about “Judas”, except for its duration, is also that it’s a concept album. Yeah, a double concept album in 2021! And this is really cool, on the one hand: “Judas” can be listened to as a uniform composition that revolves around the story of Judas Iscariots treachery but, instead of retelling it, talks about Judas’s role in the history of religion drawing on the biblical story, presents that story from different perspectives and offers insights into some feelings and moral dilemmas, rather inspired by the 13th apostle’s story than taken directly from the Bible. On the other hand, the album has the same kind of drawbacks as almost any concept work of such scale. The tracks, each individual one of which is gorgeous, with excellent melodies, wonderful vocals and professional orchestrations, blend into one anyway after a certain timeline. That is, the integrity I’ve mentioned above is definitely very cool from the conceptual point of view, but when you have 24 tracks in similar styles, closely related in terms of tempos and themes, and with a leitmotif present in the entire release, it doesn’t help hold the listener’s attention. In my opinion, the album should be listened to in its entirety, from beginning to end, in order to appreciate the idea in a vacuum, but then I’d recommend to thoroughly listen to each track individually.
By the way, as for the leitmotif, the idea’s gorgeous. The titular melody of “Judas” can be heard for the first time in the ballad “Death is Just a Kiss Away”, and then in the instrumental composition “Be Still and Know” at the end of the first CD. Then the album lets you forget about it for some, and the motif is back already at the end of the second CD, in the songs “A War Within” and “Work of Salvation” (so don’t listen to these compositions one after another). Interestingly, by the way, the latter, according to Chris, was supposed to be a heavy guitar composition, but in the process of songwriting its “peaceful” part grew up to a fully fledged song, and the guitar part will probably find its reflection in the band’s future releases.
In fact, I could say something or share my impressions about almost every composition in the album, indicating their advantages and drawbacks, but it’s easier just to listen to one of the year’s main releases and to decide upon your preferences on your own. In a nutshell: in my opinion, there definitely are some absolutely unnecessary tracks in the album which can sparkle only as a part of the concept, but which the release could quite as well do without. But something that is a run-of-the-mill track for me can become somebody’s favorite one, and vice versa: something that I consider one of the main hits will be surely given a miss by some of the listeners. The album gives all of us a choice, and that’s great. Ultimately, every fan of the LOTL can compile “their own” “Judas” by slightly reshaping and shortening the playlist.
Before proceeding to a quick overview of the bonuses, I’d like to elaborate a bit on the album’s technical side and its promo campaign. First of all, all the live instruments in the album are really live, that is, if you hear a violin, a cello, an organ or a piano, it is exactly what it is and not an emulation of the instruments on a synthesizer. Although the level of instrument emulation nowadays is such that one can hardly figure out by ear in the recording, in the common mix, if it is a live instrument or it isn’t, the musicians have decided to use a synthesizer only for those sounds which cannot be reproduced instrumentally. And knowing that information, realizing how much energy and money has been invested in something that cannot even be heard by an unaided ear, one would listen to the material and perceive it quite differently. I’m sure that the artist’s attitude to their work is also to some extent conveyed to the object of art perception, and I’m very impressed by Chris’s attitude in this aspect. Of course he isn’t the only big fan of his work. Quite many representatives of my favorite bands take a very scrupulous approach to the process, but this is part of the reason why I feel like supporting them both verbally and financially. In addition to that, the band supported the album’s release in every way possible, the guys told the audience about every song, introduced every guest from the specialized project “LOTL+”, which I will talk about a bit later, invented all sorts of flashmobs and activities in their social networks, produced new merch, and so on and so forth. Actually, they have set a good example of involvement on all fronts.
Bonus Album: “The Sorrows of the Young”
And now, about the bonuses. The most interesting bonus material, in my opinion, has become the album “The Sorrows of the Young” comprised of 10 ballads performed by Chris to the acoustic guitar. The unique thing about this material is that the songs included in “TSOTY” had been written by Harms in his young years and finally, decades later, were recorded and presented to the general public. Interestingly, by the way, when Chris began the second verse of “Deus Absconditus” with the words, “It smells like fear…”, these lines ran through my brain immediately, “It smells like fish, I take a sniff”. And now every time when I listen to the song, this text revolves in my mind, and even fits into the rhythm, dammit…
Bonus Album: “LOTL+”
The next bonus of 32 (!) tracks was the “LOTL+” which I have already mentioned. According to the release’s slogan, it is “the song Viva Vendetta minus the original vocals and plus the new vocals, text, and musical elements.” And I still remember making fun of some artists’ tendency to release singles with 20 remixed per one track… In actual fact, for this experiment the Lord Of The Lost have gathered a great deal of well-known, very well-known, and little-known names, which it is not necessary to enumerate here – just take a look at the track list. It has to be admitted that I didn’t find any new “musical” elements almost anywhere, except perhaps for Tanzwut bashfully squeezing the bagpipe into a part of their song. Apart from this, the band listed here wrote their own vocal melody and text, and sang accordingly to the LOTL instrumental of “Viva Vendetta”. I’m sure it was very interesting for Harms to receive all that material and listen to it. Unfortunately for the listeners, I’m sure, it will not be as interesting. But on the other hand, that have a choice again. Who makes you listen to all of the compositions? Add a couple of “vendettas” to your playlist every time, and prolong the pleasure.
“Dare to Know EP” (Sonic Seducer edition)
But this isn’t all yet. Another thing that can be attributed to this “universe” of the album “Judas” is the “Dare to Know EP”, the exclusive release for the Sonic Seducer magazine. It includes the “Dare to Know” track itself that was written by Rupert Keplinger of Eisbrecher but was not included in the main album, and another 3 excellent piano versions of songs from “Judas”, which sound just as good in the acoustics as in the original, proving once again that if a song is good, it will remain good in any form.
To sum things up, I’d like first of all to encourage you guys to give some sort of financial support to the band, for their productivity, commitment, and undoubted talent. Go to their concert when you have such an opportunity. Buy the album (it will be a very nice souvenir) or some of their merch. Or at least subscribe to the guys in social networks. This is absolutely free of charge. And as for the album, it is definitely a must-have. I cannot say that it is the band’s best album, but this depends on which of the LOTLs you like better. As for me, I’ll probably opt for a material like “Full Metal Whore”, but I’m sure “Judas” will stay in my playlist for a long time as well, at least some parts of it.
- Band: Lord of the Lost
- Album: Judas
- Genre: Gothic metal/rock
- Country: Germany
- Release: July 02, 2021
- Label: NAPALM RECORDS
- Facebook Page: facebook.com/lordofthelost
- Buy: lordofthelost.hamburgrecords.com
Reviewer Score: 9 out of 10
Author: Irgend Jemand, specially for the NDH FM Online
Translated by Lilia Berkush.