Thornstar is the sixth studio album from German metallers Lord Of The Lost. Incorporating industrial, gothic and synth elements, their sound is dark with immense depth both in the instrumentation and lyrics. The album explores the beliefs of the Pangaeians, a civilisation that existed several millennia ago. This is a civilisation that is colloquially referred to as ‘The Atlantis of the North’, as they appear to have been a society ahead of its time.
On This Rock I Will Build My Church is a strong opening track to this unusual concept album. Depth is created through the guitars and distorted vocals which is contrasted by synth melodies in a higher pitch. Chris Harms’ clean vocals have a gothic edge to them with smooth, low tones which effectively bring together the different styles in the track. Industrial tones are prevalent in Loreley; heavy, marching style rhythms in the guitars give the track a sense of movement. Harms’ vocals soar above the instrumentation to produce a large, atmospheric sound. Black Halo begins with strings before irrupting into synth melodies and heavy guitars. The underlying industrial beat, with delicate piano melodies and smooth vocals creates a detailed sound that works harmoniously to form a dramatic track. Distorted vocals in the chorus emphasise the heavy aspects of the instruments. Strings in the chorus develop the soaring vocals further. The synth chord sequence feels not dissimilar to some 80s pop styles. Bookending the track with strings creates a greater depth by alternating between full and more sparse sounds. The different styles used in this track remain cohesive with the album but add an extra dimension.
Morgana is dramatic with fast melody and then sudden drop into the verse. Dark, low vocals add a gothic element and strings suggest a symphonic metal sound. The chorus becomes aggressive with harsh vocals and fast broken rhythms. The contrasting sections of this track are incredibly immersive as so many tones, ideas and emotions are explored. The subject of this track is particularly interesting in the overall concept of the album. In brief terms, Ma’ghoëm was the first goddess who created the beings of the day and the god Hathyre created all the beings of the night but were unable to create humans. Morgana selflessly removes her own heart and creates the first human being from it, she is therefore seen as the mother of human beings. The soaring style of the track reflects the dramatic origins of Ma’ghoëm. Haythor opens with ludicrously heavy riffs portraying the dark associations of the god Hathyre. The soaring chorus creates similarity to the previous track, but the different tones are identifiably linked between the contrasting natures of the two gods.
Naxxar contains a haunting motif portrayed in choral vocals and the piano. The organ sections emphasise the track and the dark haunting theme, whilst also adding a religious tone. Smooth vocals with distorted sections adds to the dark nature of the track. The guitar rhythm and percussion create a sense of movement and high energy throughout the track which suddenly builds and falls at the end. The structure of full and sparse sounds, as used in previous tracks, adds to the effect. Beginning with breathy vocals, Cut Me Out has a very different tone. The vocals are developed in significantly different ways to the other tracks. The piano and synth create a more pop style sound to the track. The fast-paced backing vocals also contribute to this style. The heavier guitars and vocals in the second verse bring more depth without completely removing the more upbeat, pop sound. The sudden change in sound is an unexpected contribution to the album but it works incredibly well and doesn’t feel alien in the album.
Under The Sun plays on heavy synths and industrial rhythms. The end result is an incredibly heavy track with aggressive tones that are emphasised by distorted vocals. The contrast of gentle piano melodies and clean vocals in the chorus almost seem out of place however, the two sections alternate without any awkward sounding transitions. The serene atmosphere of the chorus reflects the nature of the lyrics and the relevance of the change in tone assists in keeping all sections of the track cohesive. The club music style synths of In Darkness, In Light are subtle but add an extra layer to the marching style rhythm used in the guitars and percussion. Sections of strings in the back ground add extra drama but aren’t the main focus of the track. The lyrics are quite simple but very effective and suit the instrumentation styles used.
Abracadabra is the opening track of the second disc. Featuring Dero Goi of Oomph!, the track is fast-paced with prominent drums and synths. The sound of this track shares similarities with In Darkness, In Light. Backing vocals add depth to the verse which would feel lacking with just the percussions, synths and lead vocals. This track is fairly simple in structure and doesn’t explore as many intricate riffs as other tracks. Voodoo Doll is an enjoyable track with well executed parts but when compared to the more experimental tracks on this album, it lacks the extra interesting touches that make Lord Of The Lost stand out. The Art Of Love has dark, gothic tones with drawn out chords and smooth lead vocals. Piano melodies and organ sections boost the sound creating depth to the track. Heavy guitars are present but take a step back in this track which adds variety to album. Changing the placement of instruments in different tracks creates a contrast of styles making the Thornstar an incredibly interesting album.
Thornstar is a fascinating concept album full of immense sounds and combined genres. Lord Of The Lost’s ability to merge so many genres and develop aspects on these genres into their own style is incredible. All of the tracks are high quality and also very varied. The variety is not disruptive to the overall album concept; none of the tracks feel out of place.
For fans of: Rammstein, Mono Inc., Paradise Lost
Words by Holly Royle
‘Thornstar’ by Lord Of The Lost is out now on Napalm Records.