Released: 2009 (Obsidian Factory Records)
2. Naked Kingdom
4. Dark Hero
5. No Life King
6. The Way of the World
7. Long Way to Lord Suites
For me japanese bands in the past and present had one problem. They all are very good instrumentalists but the songwriting stands against it and heart and soul are missing.
So I was absolutely surprised as I listened to the second album from 1991 formed japanese band Hydra, called „Long way to lord and other stories“. The band describes their sound as Metal, Progressive & Thrash….and that is exactly what it is.
As I can trust the informations from the band „Anger“ is an older track that they packed as opener to this album. Furious start that remembers to Racer X’ Street Lethal. Very fast …in thrash style played. Screams appear. Vocalist Sumio Tamai performs in a mixture of brutal screams and some in higher spheres, where Halford has to quit in these days. Energy drums round up this smasher. Is there only one guitarist? Akihido Yamada is told as the only one guitar player for Hydra. It that is so than I am impressed.
„Naked kingdom“ also speeds up. High screams meet clear refrain vocals. The bass is pumping and the guitars are speeding the scales. Interrupted by a short slow intermezzo this is a blasting song with a wild guitar solo and progressive elements.
Computerized keyboard start in „Loveless“. With this song the band moves to progressive metal. The keys in the back underline this and the song is very melodic with clear twin vocals. Guitars are more in the back and the vocals and keys do the talking. The Refrain is appearing on and on and only one short guitar solo breaks this. So here we can find a brandnew element in the sound of Hydra. Far away to be a ballad, but melodic and full of harmonies that sound partly strange.
Also a computer part begins“Dark hero“. This song is near to Industrial Metal. In the refrain the song remembers a bit to old Judas Priest or Ripper Owens, hear the high performance of Sumio Tamai. All in all this track owns a lot of industrial vibes and sounds sometimes weird to listen to it easily.
„No life king“ is more straight. Some piano in the beginning but the drums forward the song. It feels like we are in the hard rock scene of the middle 70’s. Some old Rush, Led Zeppelin comes up and even an acoustic spanish guitar can be heard. But the guitar solo of Yamada crashs this impression. Cool song and again another new element in the bands sound. 7 minutes and in every second something happens. Thats what people call real progressive.
Back in thrash with „The way of the world“. Direct hit in your face. Brutal riffing, amazing shouts, some clear parts. This song doesn’t need more to work. A banger at its best.
Follow up is the main part of this album. The titletrack is nearly 30 minutes long and separated in 4 parts and is called The long way to the lord suites. It starts like a normal power metal track, fast in speed, clean vocals underlined with different keyboars and guitar solos. In the refrain it is getting real old school. Thats what the first part „Long way to lord“ stands for. Second part „Race on crossroads“ starts with some spanish acoustic guitars before an electric theme appears. Disharmonic vocals describe a little oriental or old Fates Warning sound. All held in midtempo. Only a great guitar sequence breaks the harmonies. Ok…the refrain is boring me a little cause it is more la la la. But the musical ideas the song contains are brilliant. The third part „Karma“ offers some doom vibes. Slow dark vocals, the guitar like violins. Seems like that we are in Mespotamia hundreds of years ago. Again a fast guitar solo breaks into the scene. The last part „Children of the sun“ is with10 minutes the longest one. First it seems we are listening to easy lisening progressive rock music. But it moves over to a power part with awesome screams of Sumio Tamai. Most of the song is built on harmonies. But the music gives enough to explore. We even can find some thunder and lightning in the middle. In the end progressive and harder themes collide so that this album gets a worthy kick out.
This album is for real metal gourmets. It takes your attention to listen to it, but if you are willing to do it than you will find out how complex and how full of different arrangements this album is. Not for people who are searching for easy listening songs. This album can be heard by supporters of different metal styles and that means that it has an enormous bandwith. For me definetely the best output ever from japan and therefore…..Horns up !!
review by Kerbinator