Literature has always proven to be an endless source of inspiration for musicians, from Kate Bush’s exquisite Wuthering Heights to Metallica’s dark and dense One and more recently, even Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow has been lifted off the page thanks to The Klaxons.
And more than most, perhaps the escapist worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien is a wellspring of ideas, with artists as diverse as Enya and Led Zeppelin creating their own soundtracks to Middle Earth with Lothlórien and Ramble On, respectively. And it is from such a world that Lore Wardens take their lead, as the name suggests, this being a song based on the journey at the heart of The Lord of the Rings.
Blending some cool intricate rock grooves with more progressive moves, reminiscent of the way that Rush blurred the lines between the two, they similarly deliver music which is hard enough for fans of the former and sufficiently clever and ever-evolving for followers of the latter.
It is a song filled with wonderfully wandering dynamics, hitting sky-searing crescendos as readily as it can drop down into lulling interludes, sometimes complex and ornate, at other times playing it straight. Earl Henson’s basslines take us on some melodic meanders, perhaps reflecting the journey the song describes, guitars switch between delicate atmospherics and slashes of incendiary riffing, fat chords and chiming arrays of single notes and the drums, courtesy of Daniel Coyle, add weight and drive to this oft-cavernous sound.
And, of course, with such a song, the narrative is essential; sadly, not always the case with modern rock music, but here, the lyrics are everything. The fact that lyricist Porter Benton’s words are delivered by Lee Brock in similarly epic fashion is the perfect icing on the cake for this slice of sonic story-telling.
What should also be highlighted is that the song is the product of an eighties recording session, a one-take wonderdous moment, a live moment captured as it happened, warts and all. Not that there are any sonic warts on display here, but it does explain the straightforward and unadorned production. But don’t you think that adds to the authenticity of the piece?
All too often, bands rely on the gimmicks and gizmos of the studio to make them sound palatable, a fix here, a drop in there, lashings of auto-tuning and guitars double-tracked to excessive, almost symphonic levels. Who needs it, apart, of course, from bands who are not up to the task at hand? Well, this is the sound of a band thoroughly up to the task at hand and this one-take snapshot, this moment in time, is everything that rock music is about.
Raw and raucous, in-your-face, hard-hitting yet meaningful, authentic and intelligent. Wouldn’t it be great if we could return to such an attitude, such a sound?
Oh, and if you are wondering about the glorious artwork which adorns the album, it was created by Frank Melfi…yes, the same Frank Melfi who was Robert Plant’s personal photographer. Then again, who else would you get to capture such an epic sound in visual form?