[Artwork by Greg Bogart]
Back in 2017, a relatively unheralded Philadelphia band called Lör snuck a debut full-length under the radar that, upon reaching some uniquely eligible ears, blew the doors off the barn like the very first day the Amish world discovered C-4. And friend, if you’ve never been to a good old-fashioned Amish Barn Door Detonation, have you even lived? (The answer to that question is a resounding no.) In Forgotten Sleep bundled everything a person even mildly interested in shades of power, prog, and folk could ever dream of discovering, and it trekked those pathways while maintaining a modern sense of harshness that made it clear the band members had not only spent years consuming the works of Blind Guardian, Symphony X, and Yes, but bands from harder and faster avenues as well.
What has three years and surviving amidst a pandemic done for the explorers behind Lör? Edge of Eternity is a very logical progression from In Forgotten Sleep, with a sharper focus that compresses the song lengths (relatively speaking—these aren’t exactly “short” jingles) without sacrificing an ounce of the band’s sense of adventure. So, while the 10-minute (plus) runs from the previous full-length are now gone, this EP still manages to feel just as epic. A little less of the proggy face in favor of the folk and power elements, perhaps, but it’s still very clearly the product of the very same band.
“Upon a Withered Heart” is an extremely bright, absurdly melodic and ludicrously catchy opener, and it very quickly stresses the most vital element to the overarching Lör windfall: the stunning fretwork of Peter Hraur. The aggressive riffing heard throughout these songs is fantastic on its own, but Hraur’s lead work is nothing short of pants-soiling levels of extraordinary, and “Upon a Withered Heart” really doesn’t muck about very long before revealing that certitude.
As you have likely noticed upon completing that opening corker, the rest of the Lör players ain’t exactly greasy hired guns torn slobbering from the gutters of the promenade. (Unless they are, which would be even MORE impressive). The wonderfully bouncy bass and plucky drumming—courtesy of Nick Bonsanto and Greg Bogart, respectively—are as lively and shifting as a freshly lit campfire, and vocalist Tyler Fedeli has the sort of theatrical delivery that raises the question, “Did these guys net this dude by cruising to wherever the local theater troupe hangs out and lure him into the van by letting Falconer’s Northwind roar from the windows?” HIT HIM OVER THE HEAD WITH THE SHILLELAGH, BOYS!
And buddy, they ain’t even close to showing their full hand yet. “Relic” is the closest they’ve come to creating an outright (minstrel’s) ballad, but even this song manages to soar in its closing minutes with the sort of sweeping power metal OOMPH that’ll leave you tearful and complaining of dust in your eyes. And “A Life Once Known” cranks up the speed and aggression while painting more of the edges with Matt Bartlett’s atmospheric keys—something that really comes to the forefront on “Ruin,” a song that seems as much an ode to the symphonic footing of Emperor as it does to a progressive powerhouse like Wuthering Heights.
There’s really not much to complain about here, particularly if you’re the sort who nibbles at bait that dangles the perfect mixture of, say, Dark Forest (UK) and a highly accomplished form of folk / thrash that recalls early Skyclad. The lead guitar work is some of the best I’ve heard this year, the gang vocals add a nice sense of throw-back without feeling unduly dusty, and the overall attention to detail regarding production and songwriting absolutely tramples the notion that an unsigned act is incapable of producing something as polished and veteran-sounding as a band that’s been signed to Metal Blade for decades. Simply put, Edge of Eternity is a triumph that follows an earlier triumph, and there’s no way in Hell I’m missing what they throw at us next.