Philadelphia’s unsigned power/folk/progressive metal heroes Lör turned heads in 2017 when their debut, In Forgotten Sleep, shot to the top of Bandcamp’s metal chart and stayed there for a week on the strength of word of mouth, the band’s homespun promotion efforts, and warm accolades across the metal world.
So how does their 2020 follow up, Edge of Eternity, compare? Even more than the band’s debut album, Edge of Eternity reveals a band that refuses to adhere to genre-defined expectations. Lör’s songwriting and arranging approach is informed by what must be a voracious consumption of music from across metal’s sprawling subgenres, combined with a strong sense of their own identity and a steadfast refusal to bow to trends.
So what does Lör sound like?
Insofar as their sound has power metal elements, Lör leans more toward European power metal than American heavy power metal, but that doesn’t mean these are soaring, lightweight, major key songs about flying on the wings of an eagle. Although there are some lilting folk metal melodies from time to time, the five compositions on Edge of Eternity are quite dark, bordering on melancholic. And vocalist Tyler Fedeli’s confident delivery–supported by great backup harmonies–is more about emotional conviction than glass shattering operatics. From unconventional progressive metal song structures to cinematic symphonics to occasional extreme metal vocals, this is an incredibly dynamic album. Meriting special mention is the guitar work of Peter Hraur, which constantly balances the competing pulls of virtuoso technicality and emotional resonance, blazing with a cutting bridge pickup lead tone that slices through the mix.
The most obvious comparison point is Lör’s countrymen and friends in Wilderun. Both bands have an unusual ability to mix together a slew of almost exclusively European metal influences into a sound that somehow comes out distinctively laced with American attitude and full of originality.
Nowhere is Lör’s proficiency on better display than on “Ruin,” the album’s strongest track. More a progressive metal song than anything else, its memorable hooks, labyrinthine song structure, and starkly contrasting elements–ranging from the epic vocal harmonies of its chorus to fearsome extreme metal parts–mark a defining statement for this album.
Edge of Eternity is not perfect. The just over 30-minute running length is a bit on the short side, although I understand Lör has additional material in the works. And while the mix and mastering are really, really good for a self-produced album, there are moments where it lacks the polish or clarity that I like to see, particularly for Lör’s chosen mix of subgenres. The album art could also be a bit more professional.
But if you are into progressive, folk, or power metal, don’t let these mild criticisms dissuade you from checking this one out. With their incredible writing and performing skills and demonstrated ability to sell albums, Lör’s unsigned status is a bit of a head-scratcher–one most likely attributable to their being an American band with such a Euro-heavy sound. Wilderun was a similar head-scratcher until they went from being unsigned directly to being signed by Century Media—one of the largest, most powerful metal labels and a subsidiary of the second-largest music label in the world. Will Lör follow a similar path? Only time will tell, but the music is good enough that we should all start listening now so that we can say we were fans all the way back when they were putting out their own albums.