OVERLORDE was formed in 1985 by John “Kong” Bunucci (Bass/Lead Vocals) and Mark “M.E.” Edwards (Guitar/Backing Vocals). Dave Wrenn (Drums/Backing Vocals) joined shortly thereafter, and this “Power Metal” band was born. The band recorded and released a 5-song self-titled EP in 1987 on their own label, Strike Zone Records, which received glowing reviews worldwide from those able to get their hands on a copy. The band disbanded in 1988 with members working on other projects until late 1999 when there seemed to be much renewed, cult-like interest in the band as the EP started appearing on collectors “want lists”. Although the three founding members had stayed in touch, a formal meeting was held in 2000 to discuss a possible reunion. With the addition of former SEVEN WITCHES vocalist Bobby “Leather Lungs” Lucas, the band recorded a demo titled “Overlorde 2000” which went on to receive more outstanding press. Exposure on a number of compilation CDs and performances at the 2001 Powermad V Metal Fest and 2002 Classic Metal Fest helped the band and 2004 saw OVERLORDE achieve its goal, signing a new record deal with Greece’s Sonic Age Records, and ultimately releasing “Return Of The Snow Giant”.
I find it hard to describe the band’s sound, especially with all the different genre names floating around these days. OVERLORDE cannot be easily categorized into today’s groupings as they often include a bit of many genres’ influences. They are best described as U.S. power metal with an 80’s finesse; you know, that “Traditional” metal sound. To many, this is the timeless sound and is what metal music is really all about, when metal was simply known as “Heavy Metal”, not death, black, grind, power etc. With the exception of the intro, half of the songs presented are from the past and half are new; 2 from the s/t EP and 4 from the 2000 demo leaves room for 6 “new” songs on this release, although considering the obscurity of the older releases, they’ll all be new to most of us. The old and new songs stream together flawlessly and it’s not possible to differentiate which were just written…that’s the “timelessness” I’m referring to.
Generally, many of the songs have a lot of time changes and offbeat drumming, accompanied by a powerful rhythm section. After a brief guitar/bass intro, “Mark Of The Wolf” has a METALLICA-ish feel to it during its slower parts, with an awesome guitar/vocal battle in the middle of the song where they mimic one another. It is a long song with a couple of different structures, which ends up feeling like 3 songs in 1! “My Disease” is a definitive metal anthem through-and-through…if you’re looking for an introduction to OVERLORDE, this is a good starting point. “Starcastle” has a simple, repetitive chorus, but Bobby’s vocal assault makes it enjoyable. Mark “M.E.” Edwards is an amazing songwriter and presents exceptional guitar work throughout including some blazing solos in tracks like “Hell Hath No Fury”, “Metallic Madness”, and “Mark Of The Wolf”. Mark has an uncanny way of making you “feel” the music through his solos. Despite his recording history, this has to be Bobby Lucas’ showcase performance; he is certainly deserving of his nickname, “Leather Lungs”; check out some of his screams in “When He Comes”, “Starcastle” and “Ogre Wizard”! His work with SEVEN WITCHES was impressive and rightfully praised, but on “Return Of The Snow Giant”, Bobby has taken his performance to the next level. The backing rhythm section of John Bunucci and Dave Wrenn is rock-solid and keeps things flowing along, for the most part at a ferocious pace, but they are equally successful in providing the right atmosphere for the slower parts.
Possessing a grand total of 0% filler, which is so rare these days, “Return Of The Snow Giant” is a much-appreciated listen front-to-back. Since I first got this CD some time ago, it continues to hold a spot in my regular music rotation, and never seems to get boring. Had I heard this in late ’04 when it was released, it undoubtedly would have been in my top-5 of the year. No breakdowns, lots of guitar solos, a real thick rhythm section, and fantastic vocals make “Return Of The Snow Giant” a welcomed release in this day of oversaturation, regurgitation, and mediocrity.
9,5 / 10