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Lion's Share - "Dark Hours" (CD)

Lion's Share - "Dark Hours" CD cover image

"Dark Hours" track listing:

01. Judas Must Die
02. Phantom Rider
03. Demon In Your Mind
04. Heavy Cross To Bear
05. The Bottomless Pit
06. Full Metal Jacket
07. The Presidio 27
08. Barker Ranch
09. Napalm Nights
10. Space Scam
11. Behind The Curtain
12. King Of All The Kings (bonus track – limited-edition digipak and Japanese version)

Reviewed by on April 7, 2009

"Lead singer Patrik Johansson will immediately bring to mind metal god Ronnie James Dio, with his harmonic and powerful, yet raw and grinding vocals."

With Lion's Share's latest release, "Dark Hours," the Swedish band brings a whole new level to melodic metal. "Dark Hours" is their sixth album since their debut, "Lion's Share," in 1995, and showcases a polished, edgy, and energetic melodic sound.

Lead singer Patrik Johansson will immediately bring to mind metal god Ronnie James Dio, with his harmonic and powerful, yet raw and grinding vocals. Johansson's distinct vocals are paired with quick riffs similar to that of Iced Earth, provided by band founder Lars Chriss on guitar and Sampo Axelsson on bass.

Richard Evensand of Chimaira, Soilwork, and Therion, as well as Conny Pettersson of Anata, provide pounding drums on the album that drive the high-speed songs right into the listener's head.

The first single off the album and the lead song, "Judas Must Die," starts off hard and heavy, throwing out thrash-like riffs that reel you in and force you to listen on, and you’ll soon be rewarded with the insanely dark "Phantom Rider." With a slow beginning, "Phantom Rider" suddenly hits you with a heavy guitar and drum combination that leads you through a haunting song that is a definite highlight of the album.

"Heavy Cross to Bear" becomes an easy favorite, with the band's Black Sabbath influences shining through. The heavy bass line in sync with guitar chords drive the song under Johansson's grating voice, to give the song the haunting yet epic sound reminiscent of Black Sabbath's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath."

The songs build to "The Presidio 27," a complex creation highlighting a slightly slower, melodic sound that transitions well into the intense and powerful "Barker Ranch" and "Napalm Nights." The final and longest song on the album, "Behind the Curtain," starts slow with strings before hitting hard, intermittently bringing the haunting violins back to weave through the song.

Though many of their songs are short, a few topping off at just more than three minutes, it's never a problem because the songs are so complex and well composed that you don't feel they need to be longer. A few of the songs in the middle of the album feel a bit formulaic at times, but the overall album is impressive and worth a listen.

For fans of Dio, or those who wished Dio had more grit and quick-hitting riffs to support him, Lion's Share's "Dark Hours" is a must in melodic metal.

Highs: Impressive, melodic vocals combined with rapid riffs to create a complete album that builds on itself until the end.

Lows: A few songs are a bit formulaic at times, but not in an overpowering way.

Bottom line: "Dark Hours" is great for any melodic metal fan, or someone who loves Ronnie James Dio.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)