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Straight into US Metal lore - 85%

Deh Dabbler, November 14th, 2017

On first listen, Lör's sound was a great gust of fresh autumn air to my face. Halfway through "Dusk" I knew I would love In Forgotten Sleep even though it only scratches the surface of all that Lör packed into their debut. Best described as a smooth blend of the best aspects of folk, progressive and power metal, this album should immediately lift the Philadelphia-based band to the top of the burgeoning U.S. folk and progressive metal scenes along with bands like Wilderun, Æther Realm, and Cormorant.

Stylistically, they're most similar to the former, though I feel the best comparison is actually Wuthering Heights - a band Lör must have listened to for inspiration. The ways they blend power metal choruses, epic backing vocals, folk sensibilities and prog technicality are very similar. Think of In Forgotten Sleep as Wuthering Heights but with proggier instrumentation and much less cheese (no fantasy theme). And smoother clean vocals. And very occasional screamed vocals. And a warmer, more modern-sounding production. Ok, so maybe they're not so similar after all! In fact, I think Lör do a good job of creating a unique sound, considering that it is only their first album. They'll remind you of the relaxed folk vibe of Skyclad at times, Dream Theater at others, and Equilibrium or power metal like Sonata Arctica, Kamelot or Stratovarius still at others. Yet the album is still able to maintain a seamless sound from front to back, united by that lovely warm atmosphere (damn, it matches the cover perfectly), wonderfully emotive and uplifting vocal performance, perfectly-placed interludes and tasteful, subtle use of keys and folk instrumentation.

You know what else remains constant? Most importantly of all...the strength of the songwriting. Lör can effortlessly trade off between tranquil keys and fast/furious shredding, between soothing lullaby melodies and fanatical yells... and even between bass-popping prog grooves and spirited folk-metal swings. But it's never mindless or without purpose. They incorporate all of these aspects into intelligently-constructed songs. The way it's all crafted together makes the songs grow and feel alive. Beauty and power. Hope and apocalypse. Tension and release.

Now, there are lots of great pure musicians out there, but what truly separates the cream from the crop is often the simple yet rare ability to write truly compelling melodies. Lör have this gift. In spades. Lead vocalist Tyler Fedeli (and his tradeoffs with second vocalist Peter Hraur) sings some hella catchy tunes on this thing. By my third spin, six of the seven songs on In Forgotten Sleep were already added to my favorites playlist simply because the verses and choruses were already stuck in my head. Lör aren't "poppy" any more than you can accuse any melodic metal band of being - they just write really interesting and meaningful melodies. Combined with what seems to be an overarching theme of fighting through struggles personal or otherwise and finding your own new sense of meaning (the lyrics to "Song for the Lost", for example, might help make it this lost soul's Song of the Year) and you have a truly victorious album.

Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys any combination of progressive, power or folk metal. There is something for everyone on this album. A possible guide of where to start, for example:
Most 'Power Metal' = "Dark Cloud"
Most 'Folk Metal' (upbeat/epic) = "Visions of Awakening"
Most 'Folk Metal' (atmospheric) = "Dusk"
Most 'Progressive Metal' = "Eidolon"

Thanks to songs like those, the special "Song for the Lost" and the triumphant closer "In Forgotten Sleep", this album is already very close to my vaunted 90% threshold threshold after only a week of listening. It grabs you instantly but there's a lot to digest in each song and I continue to notice new bits and get more out of it with each listen. In Forgotten Sleep could very well be an AOTY contender in no time. If it sounds like the type of sound that would normally be up your alley, don't miss it! Lör is a name I certainly hope to see much more of in the future.

On their next album, I hope to hear them take the next step in cultivating their own unique sound, strip some extra fat off the longer songs, and make even more use of their powerful shifts in dynamics and folk instruments.

Also published by me on RateYourMusic: https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/lor/in-forgotten-sleep/