Lords Of Black

Well it was about time for Lords Of Black to make a breakthrough into the metal audience and that thing happened due to their new excellent album “II” but also owing to the fact that their singer Ronnie Romero was chosen by the legendary Ritchie Blackmore to front Rainbow! Grande Rock caught up with the band’s mastermind, composer & guitarist Tony Hernando and discussed all things concerning the new album, the band and the “internet” thing which has affected rock/metal music today…
Lords Of Black band pic

Hi Tony… I’m glad we’re given the chance to talk about the second full-length album, “II”, of Lords Of Black.
 
T: Hi, there! Very cool to have this interview for you, guys!
 
 
Firstly, do tells us what are the new elements that you introduce with “II” and which are the main differences between your debut and your new album?
 
T: I guess we just came up with more mature & straight “right to the point” songs… I think our debut album is very cool and very special, I still love it, and has some of the fans faves songs such “Nothing Left to Fear”, “When Everything is Gone” etc., but after more than one year working very close and the live performances we have had and learning from the reaction of the people to our songs, we started writing the new songs with a goal on going more to the point as I just mentioned and trying to make the best arrangements with cool, interesting lyrics… but I don’t like comparing albums, since they are just portraits of different moments in our lives as musicians and persons, so I would not say this one is better that the other one or the other way around… it has no sense for me.
 
 
You released your debut album in 2014 independently and now you’re releasing “II” via one of the top rock/metal labels, Frontiers records. How did that occur? Were you expecting such a thing or you had in mind to go independently again?
 
T: Well, the first album got brave reviews everywhere and was getting noticed by many people in the industry and becoming kind of a “cult” album, so we were not completely unknown, specially after our performances as “special guest” for great bands like Gotthard, Unisonic and Helloween, who all of them treated us so good and they loved our act so much… so is true that there were a few labels interested in us but they were taking their time for a decision, which was very frustrating for us, as we were about to enter the recording studio without any new on having a solid possibility of getting our album released by anyone or if we were going to have to release it ourselves again, it was also at the same time Ronnie was contacted by Ritchie Blackmore and we have to keep it very secret till they decide for the right time to reveal the news… and yes, as soon as that was public all those record labels and a few more ones called us showing real interest.
 
 
Your singer Romero got involved with Rainbow and the legendary Ritchie Blackmore told some nice words about him. How crucial was that fact so that Lords Of Black could get the fans and press interest and be introduced to a wider audience?
 
T: That changed everything! A Rainbow reunion or at least Ritchie Blackmore going back playing Rock was a long expected news by the fans all over the world myself included, and having my band mate and friend as the guy chosen by Ritchie… is way beyond cool! Yes, as you say that put us on the spotlight and we are very grateful to Ritchie.
 
 
Well, the album’s title “II” refers to your second album, but we also see 4 “Nazgûls”-like “riders” in the cover artwork. Are you (the band) those “Nazgûls”? What do the “Nazgûls” symbolize?
 
T: If you see the cover of the first albums, those creatures… well let’s say they are some kind of “dragons”... those were the main motif on the first album. Now in this new album we wanted to go further and develop a little bit more the concept of those four “Lords Of Black”, who are some kind of Vigilantes and have those creatures as weapons if you will… have a look on the lyrics of the song “Lords of Black” on the first album… to give you an easy explanation… any super-hero such as Daredevil or Batman would be the same… Lords Of Black would be like any other members of the justice league, you know what I mean…
 
 
Please give us a hint about each track…
 
T: “Malevolently Beautiful (Intro)”: Just a little instrumental intro with the harmony and melody essences of the chorus of the next song “Merciless”
 
“Merciless”: A good opening track, fast and powerful, some cool arrangements, long instrumental solo section… nice lyrics.
 
“Only One Life Away”: Another powerful song with some proggy-power metal elements… Ronnie is taking no prisoners here!
 
“Everything You’re Not”: First melodic, little bit more accessible song, one of my faves!
 
“New World’s Comin’”: Very powerful yet melodic song, ideal for live situation and sharing those choruses with the public…
 
“Cry No More”: A triplets-swing feel song with a modern approach, but very much in the vein of the Thin Lizzy John Sykes era which I love… Lizzy is one of my all-time fave bands, Lynott one of my heroes and inspirations and I wanted to dedicate him a song now that this year is the 30 anniversary of his passing…
 
“Tears I Will Be”: Another powerful tune with a great chorus, lyrics, one of my fave solos… love this one!
 
“Insane”: This one was one of the most special songs for Ronnie and me from the very first writing stages. I knew I wanted to get the most out of Ronnie on this one and it was not gonna be easy… it is a very demanding song vocals wise… Japanese edition of the CD has an acoustic piano version of this one, which is beautiful.
 
“Live by the Lie, Die by the Truth”: Fast classic metal song with some lyrics about religious craziness…
 
“Ghost of You”: An epic song in the vein of those Dio-Sabbath era songs… looks like one of the fans faves at this moment…
 
“The Art of Illusions Part III: The Wasteland”: The conclusion to the story commenced on the first album.
 
“Shadows of War”: A very powerful track for ending the album, I love it!
 
 
How did you choose to add the covers of “Lady of the Lake” (Rainbow) and “Innuendo” (Queen) to the CD & the digipack edition of the album?
 
T: When we were finishing writing the new songs and right before getting into the recording studio, we decided that we wanted to offer “something else” and wrote a bunch of extra songs and also decided about 4 covers, which we love and think they would say about our wide influences and likes. It was obvious that a Dio song being Rainbow, Sabbath or Dio solo Eras was gonna be done, due to Ronnie’s capabilities and our common strong love for “the man”. Also a Queen song, since this is a band that we love the same... we may have different tastes on other things, music and bands, but Queen is a band we love the same! “Innuendo” is a very demanding song to replicate... one of those songs you couldn’t say it’s that difficult till you are actually doing it well, something only the greatest can come up with… and that’s exactly what Queen was.
 
 
You played the bass on the album, and if I’m right you’ve also announced the addition a new bassist, Javi Garcia, on the band. What was needed in order for Javi to gain a place in the band?
 
T: Yes, Javi become a member of the band after the album was recorded. The auditions with him went out great and we did our first live shows together. He is very good and a very nice good bloke all around. I’m sure he will do a great job in the next album.
 
 
You (Tony) produced the album along with Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween). Roland also did the mixing and the mastering on the album. How did you choose to cooperate with Roland and are you totally satisfied with the final outcome?
 
T: I first worked with Roland on my solo album “Actual Events” back in 2008. It was a great experienced and I decided to keep on working together since we make a great team. He has been an influence on my songwriting and playing since I was very young and I have been following his career since he got the Helloween gig in 1989. We get along so good that I’m sure we’ll keep improving our results together and I am sure the best is yet to come!
 
 
What are the band’s touring plans for 2016? Will you play at any Summer Festivals?
 
T: We have some domestic live presentations in Spain in May, then Ronnie will have to focus entirely on his Rainbow gig, and after that we’ll resume playing some festivals in Spain and a full European Tour as special guest for Axel Rudi Pell in September… also a few other cool news will be revealed soon…
 
 
What are your expectations from “II”? Do you believe that the time has come for Lords Of Black to gain more popularity among the metal fans? Is this a personal vindication for you at long last?
 
T: Definitely! I hope we have the chance to play to as many people as possible in different countries and I’m sure they will love what we have to offer!
 

What are your other musical plans apart from Lords Of Black? Are you preparing any solo album and do you have in mind to release any in the next years?
 
T: Yes, I actually have many new songs for my solo stuff but considering I’m behind everything Lords Of Black is about and that requires 100% of my attention and focus. Also is sad to see how bad is guitar market nowadays, seems like no one cares anymore for an instrumental release, so…
 
Lords Of Black band pic
 
It’s time for our Weird Questions!!! How did you come with the name Lords Of Black in the first place?
 
T: I had the name in secret for quite some years before! It sounded just right to me for something like this... I’m so glad that Ronnie reacted so cool about it when I first presented it to him… he liked it as it was just his own idea, so very cool!
 

If you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?
 
T: Funny question! Never had something like this! Ahahah… I guess I could be a Lion… or maybe a Snow Leopard…
 
 
Is the “free downloading issue” the main reason why the music industry has taken the downhill or there are others, more important reasons for that?
 
T: This is a very complicated issue… illegal downloading, which it doesn’t necessary has to be “free” is definitely one of the reasons but this one, along with other reasons are being taken as excuses for something which is more important and dramatic…. just the sign of our times: a downhill in terms of culture, respect, lack of taste and so on… is all about the “internet” and the false sense of “democracy” and “going global” or whatever you wanna call it. It’s like anything is possible but in the wrong way, so mediocrity and just stupidity is the “new order”. I grew up in a generation – possible the last one – when you really had to work your way to get something, when right and wrong were something very easy to understand and to determine… not like now where everything is a “grey” zone. This is an issue to discuss with time and dedication… so I would not like to extend about it so I don’t get misunderstood…
 
 
Which are the best 3 Heavy Metal albums of all time according to you?
 
T: I love many other styles, but if we are talking about “metal”… then I’d say the best of all time and my all-time fave is Dio “The Last in Line”… then you can add Judas Priest “Defenders of the Faith” and Metallica “Master of Puppets”. Those three if we are only talking about essential Heavy Metal albums! I would add a dozen more…
 
 
Fill in the phrase… “Heavy Metal music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
 
T: Well… then we must pay respect for a whole British music scene at the end of 60s, with guitarists like Iommi, Blackmore… drummers like Baker, Powell, Paice, Bonham and we should include the “X factor”, who could easily be Mr. Jim Marshall providing the stuff those bands needed to sound the way they were looking for!
 
 
Which do you consider to be the best male vocalist in metal history?
 
T: Ronnie James Dio!
 
 
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
 
T: Only one?!!! Wow... then I may have to choose between Queen’s “Innuendo” and the 5th Symphony of Ludwig V. Beethoven. These are true samples of human’s achievements to be really proud of… exactly the contrary of what popular music is all about today…
 
 
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
 
T: If you had asked me this when I was about 10 or 15 years old and futuristic movies and books painted an interesting future for mankind... then I’d say I’d love to travel to the future but considering how things are turning nowadays since the new God “Internet” has arrived, then I would prefer to go into the past so I could be part of something so cool as any of the past revolutions or human discoverings that are fascinating. In the contrary, I don’t find fascinating all this shit about posting everywhere everyday about any ordinary daily stuff that keeps everyone so busy…
 
 
Where would you like to live… in Middle Earth, in the Seven Kingdoms or in a post-apocalyptic world like the one on “The Walking Dead”?
 
T: I don’t know what is those Seven Kingdoms and I find extremely boring those Zombie World scenes, so I guess I could be just fine in Middle Earth…
 
 
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
 
T: Can’t even think about something like that! Anyone who would like to be around me and accept me for what I am, couldn’t try something that devilish! I would not do anything like that!
 
 
I think we have come to an end Tony. Thx so much for the music and wish you the best for the future. Any last words? Take care!
 
T: Thanks so much for a great time and nice cool questions! All the best!!