Lion Drome is an alternative hard-rock outfit that hails from Northern Colorado. Led by Mike Lopez, this group offers something significantly edgier than Lopez’s solo work. Their sophomore album Lion Drome is an exciting look at what’s to come from this promising band.
“Here and Gone” instantly impressed me, as I’m a big fan of a well-crafted album opener. I like grandiose and ambitious musical statements, and Lion Drome certainly offers that on their first song. The marvelous staccato strings and electric guitar chugs definitely screamed, “Welcome to the album!” I love the way in which synths and strings mesh with sizzling, distorted guitar on this introductory track. Lopez’s vocals are also a captivating element of the piece. Nothing feels muddy or buried. Every instrument has its place and purpose.
The second track, “SOL 2208,” takes a different sonic approach, while maintaining the dark and haunting aesthetic present on the opening track. That’s how you make an album. Keep the vibe consistent, but offer something new, musically, on each track. I love what they’ve done here. I hear a real Dillinger Escape Plan influence on this song. The dissonant guitar melody and harmonized vocals are both truly hypnotic. In particular, I enjoyed the heavy switch-up in the last segment of this nearly-seven-minute masterpiece; the heavy riff, chaotic cymbal crashes and piercing lead guitar solo merged to deliver a mesmerizing finish.
The riff on “Fashion Blind” somehow manages to be incredibly upbeat without losing the dark, cutting vibe of the first two tracks. Kudos to Lion Drome for managing, as I mentioned, to maintain a consistent dark aesthetic but still attempt something new on every song. This transitions smoothly into the equally mellow, lounge-rock ballad, entitled “Parallel Construction:”another moody, atmospheric banger, driven by flanger-heavy electric guitar and tempered drumming. I was transfixed by the epic finish with frantic, distorted strumming, synth swells and a booming beat. I truly love a song that can fill me with that sense of euphoria in its final moments.
“That Bird Don’t Fly ‘Round Here No More (Reprise)” opens with a very distant, reverberating guitar riff and echoing vocals. It’s the most ethereal and electronic output from Lion Drome so far, but it clings to the dark and brooding energy that has been present on every track so far. They continually reinvent themselves without ever losing their aesthetic. Then, “Lips of Faith” smoothly follows, maintaining the serene and atmospheric vibe of the previous song, gradually reintroducing us to some of their heavier elements with a scorching guitar solo halfway through the song. The second solo in the final minute of the track amps up the distortion, and the drumming becomes more chaotic once more.
The rock energy continues on “Greatest Generation.” Though it opens with a rather restrained clean guitar melody and gentle singing, the brief strum of a heavy guitar gives the listener a heads up that something epic awaits. As promised, booming choruses and a fierce electric guitar solo follow. I particularly enjoyed the vocal hook in the choruses. Then, in a complete left-turn, “Eyes Without A Face” opens with ‘80s synths and surf-rock guitar. It is a rather sweet little ballad but also the first tune to break away from the sinister and foreboding energy of the album as a whole. Still, it was a lovely song, so it would’ve been a shame to leave it out of the album. And it did deliver huge hard-rock power chords in the second half, so it wasn’t a complete disconnect from the rest of the songs.
“Sunglasses at Night” is a heavy closing track that neatly wraps up Lion Drome. A throbbing bass drum drives the track, but the most prominent element is the heavy-metal guitar arpeggio which transforms into huge, electrifying chords in the choruses. There are some signature synth strings in the verses, too. Lion Drome offers a very catchy vocal melody in the choruses and some magnificent lead guitar throughout the song, as well. A truly powerful ending to a truly powerful album.
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