Lord - Set In Stone (Riot! Entertainment)

Delivering what is their finest material to date, Lord's legacy has truly been Set In Stone.

Formed out of the ashes of Australian power metal legends Dungeon, Lord have proven themselves to be one of Australia's premier metal acts with consistant touring, enjoyable live shows and world class material. Following up their debut release Ascendence was going to be no easy feat, but their latest release delivers, giving us some different and very interesting twists and turns along the way.

Opening the proceedings is the ominous introduction piece Spectres Of The Ascendant which segues into the intense opening track Redemption. This track is like a bull at a gate, ready to charge and prepared to take no prisoners. Combining breakneck speed and intense drumwork with melody interwoven into the chorus, Redemption sets the tone for the album.

Set In Stone's material is quite diverse, ranging from classic Dungeon-inspired tracks such as Beyond The Light and Eternal Storm, to the 80s arena rock/AOR-like Someone Else's Dream and 100 Reasons, to the straight-ahead hard rocking title track Set In Stone. The thrash/speed-metal inspired Redemption and the passionate and inspired ballad-like tracks in Forever and New Horizons cover even more territory, with the latter featuring a breathtaking guitar solo from guitar legend Pete Lesperance of Harem Scarem.

Like guitar solos? Be My Guest will satisfy your needs and blow your mind at the same times, this track truely has to be heard to be believed. Lord called on a favour from some guitarist and bassist friends from international and local bands to lend their expertise and skills to throw down a solo. Be My Guest has a myriad of guests including former Megadeth axeman Glen Drover, Dio's Craig Goldy, Vanishing Point's Chris Porcianko, former Enter Twilight axeman Richie Hausberger, former Dungeon/current Pain Division & Empires Of Eden axeman Stuart Marshall and many more guests.

Performance wise, this is a musician's dream, the guitar work of Lord Tim and Mark Furtner is insane, alternating from fast thrash picking runs to clean melodic passages, combined with complex lead work and sweeping arpeggios. Their guitar work could do two things for budding guitarists - either inspire them to achieve their goals or make them smash their guitar up against a wall and decide to take up air guitar instead.

The rhythm section of bassist Andy Dowling and drummer Tim Yatras is solid, precise and keeps the band moving, yet they are also more than capable of taking the spotlight at various times throughout the album.

As this is Yatras' swansong with Lord, and Set In Stone is definitely a testament to his drum work and peformance. He has certainly made his mark, but his legacy will be carried on by the newest member of the Lord family, young, freakishly talented drummer Damien Costas, with no problems at all.

Vocalist Lord Tim delivers a flawless professional performance standing up to previous efforts. Set In Stone seems like LT's strongest vocal performance: his range is on full display, from his normal vocal style to beautifully melodic passages and going all the way to black metal-like screeching in passages in Someone Else's Dream. Lyrically, this reviewer got the feeling that some of the songs' themes are very personal and true to LT, Forever and New Horizons are two perfect examples.

Set In Stone is a very hard album to pick any flaws in, the song writing and performances are displays of professional musicianship executed at its finest. The production makes sure everything sits on an even playing field without overshadowing the other elements within the song. The only thing that could be picked on is that some of the elements such as the lighter side of things such as melody and dare say, a little bit of a poppier side may turn the old crusty metallers away, but if the listener has an open mind, there is plenty of food on this musical plate to choose from.

Set In Stone is Lord's finest hour to date, as it stands, this could be the album which blasts them off into higher places while still remaining loyal to the hardcore fans, the band from which Lord were formed - Dungeon, their wide array of influences and music in general.  There is something for everyone, ranging from the rock fans, the power metallers, casual listeners and even the brvtal kvltists.
If asked what album defines Lord, Set In Stone is the answer.

Lord's Set In Stone is out now on Riot! Entertainment.