Lord Fist – Wilderness of Hearts Review

Holdeneye, you’ve been assigned Lord Fist. Nothing personal.” Lord Protector Steel Druhm occasionally likes to try to cover up his warm, gooey, soft, loving center by presenting a hard candy shell. He does this by brandishing one or several of his many weapons, by pretending to enjoy the daily staff beatings morale-building exercises,1 or by tossing you promos that he thinks you’ll hate. The latter often feels as if a grenade has been dropped into your unsuspecting lap sans pin, but I was elated when I saw that Lord Fist falls under the New Wave of British Heavy Metal genre and that they hail from Finland — much like the band that I covered in my first ever review for AMG. Might Steel have unwittingly lobbed a winner into my hands, or have I just been Lord fisted?

While there is certainly some Iron Maiden to be heard in the Lord Fist recipe, the band also seems to draw inspiration from London’s Angel Witch on their sophomore album Wilderness of Hearts. Sounding a bit like Angel Witch’s Kevin Heybourne — but with some early punk whininess — Lord Fist vocalist Perttu Koivunen is probably going to be the make-or-break factor for many listeners. After many spins, my mind still has a hard time deciding whether or not his performance works in the band’s favor. Sometimes sounding like a classic 80s metal vocalist, he just as often veers into thin, whiny territory, and the record feels like a rollercoaster ride of quality as a result. He’s got the raw material, but his skills could use some refinement.

If you find Koivunen’s vocals to your liking, you’re going to enjoy the rest of what Lord Fist has to offer. Classic riffs and beautifully soaring leads from Koivunen and fellow guitarist Niko Kolehmainen make Wilderness of Hearts a big bowl of comforting nostalgia. I dare you to listen to the intro riff of embedded single “Flying Over Tiprinith” and tell me it doesn’t take you back a few decades. The galloping, shimmering, high-string riff that lays on top of the crunchy bits just seals the deal, and the rest of the song is a journey of epic proportions thanks to a killer lead-in to an extended solo barrage. The song is followed by the short instrumental “Moonhalo,” a track that really highlights the guitarists’ grasp of the arcane knowledge of classic metal. “Sisters” really plays up the Angel Witch sound and the energetic title track closes things out on a powerful note.

A runtime of 34 minutes makes the album’s ten tracks pass by in the blink of an eye, and the production perfectly captures Lord Fist’s throwback sound. Whether you enjoy the vocals or not, it’s hard to criticize the upbeat passion with which they attack the style. From word “go” on opener “First Morning – Collapse,” these guys get after it. From the Powerslave-era sound of “Tigers of Snow,” to the punk-influenced early-Maiden sound of “Wings Drawn in Our Minds,” Wilderness of Hearts oozes the energy that fueled the genre’s British progenitors. Aside from some of the vocal miscues, the only really blemishes to be noted are the feedback-laden intro and a few more questionable moments found on the album’s only real dud, “Princess of the Red Flame.” I usually had the volumed cranked when listening to the album, so the feedback resulted in a painful shock nearly every time the song came around again.

This assignment was meant as punishment, so my expectations were low. But I probably enjoyed this album more than the score would lead you to believe. Lord Fist know their way around the NWoBHM sound, and the music on Wilderness of Hearts is above reproach. If you really like the vocals on the embedded track, bump this up a point or a half, but I find it hard to imagine that I’ll return to this one very often.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: High Roller Records
Websites: lordfist.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/lordfistlegions
Releases Worldwide: November 20th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Steel, I know you care. You try, but you can’t hide the tears that flow each time you flog me.
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