German multi genre rockers Lord Of The Lost released their seventh studio album on the second of July. We had the pleasure to listen to it a few days earlier and interview their bass player Class Grenayde to talk about the band, the album, pets and football, but that will be another story.
Today we focus on “Judas” which is the title of the album, after an often misunderstood biblical personality. Later we will find out why and give justice. The album contains 2 CDs with 12 songs each. Both have different themes, Damnation and Salvation. Let’s find out what stands behind it and start with the first one:
“And Jesus, he knows me And he knows I am right”
Famous nearly last words of the opener for the first CD. The song is a heavy pound. It already contains the leitmotif that leads through the whole album as an overture for an opera. Mysterious and static drum beats open it, followed by a no less mysterious humming choir before Chris Harms’ baritone begins to sing the first lines. A crashing guitar falls in “PRIEST!” I am already flashed by the innovation, brilliance, and complexity of the song after two minutes. It must be music from another universe. I can’t decide what is more interesting – the lyrics or the music! To make it short, it ends and fades out with some industrial bell strokes. Perfection and “We’re all at fault”! Can the other songs become better?
FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO
“Father, forgive them For they know not what they do”
First lines, sung by a female choir – choirs really are a thing for Lord Of The Lost. Industrial guitar falling in, the vocals telling their story. The choir returns for the chorus. In the background a piano and keyboard melody turns up. More smashing guitars but all of a sudden, they stop and the piano carries the song to its end. What will be next?
YOUR STAR HAS LED YOU ASTRAY
“If there’s a bullet with your name on it You could hold the gun, remember this”
Piano opening, guitar supporting. Very catchy harmonies and vocals but I stumble over the lines above! Judas, Jesus, AD 33, bullet? Doesn’t really fit, or does it? It does because it is not about the time period, but a timeless song about justice and pre-judgement. Do not judge someone only by hear say, build up your free open and own mind. Give everybody the chance the personality deserves.
BORN WITH A BROKEN HEART
“So we condemned you to life Made the traitor to save Every one of us”
Again, the song starts with a female choir – did I already mention, choirs are a thing for Lord of The Lost? It sounds Japanese to me, or Mandarin but I speak neither, nor do I have the chance to find out on the spot. Nevertheless, guitars fall in, the well-known baritone takes over. If the album was an opera this might be the aria of Pontius Pilatus. A sophisticated symbiosis between metal and opera. The choir directs us over the bridge to the next masterpiece which is…
“Here’s all I am An illusion I am”
Remember there once was a film “The 13th warrior” with Antonio Banderas in the title role, a Viking-themed epos? I cannot get it out of my mind though it most certainly does not have anything to do with the song. But please feel inspired by this inviting, slower, more balladic song to build up your own imagination. Thirteen is a magical number anyway. Thirteen disciples of Jesus there were, thirteen fairies of Sleeping Beauty there were. Everything else is up to you.
IN THE FIELD OF BLOOD
“Leave me to mourn for what I’ve done I have no need for anyone”
The next slower song, a soprano accompanied by a classical piano chord opens and leads through the song. It is more of a story than just a simple song and out of the blue, a harsh voice shouts “What is my god?” A very well-structured piece of art, lyric-wise and music-wise. A kind of distorted broken piano tone ends the song, and the question remains unanswered “What is my God?”
2000 YEARS A PYRE
“I fell from heaven straight to hell My kiss much more than a farewell”
Without a break in between, we hear Chris’ baritone immediately in this lament. We can physically feel the pain of a misjudged soul in his voice. It is nearly unbearable until it breaks out in the middle of the song. It shouts out all the agony and leads us into a very harmonic guitar intermezzo followed by a no less harmonic choir. Choirs really seems to be a thing for Lord Of The Lost, did I already mention that? Is it forgivable in the end? Wait and listen for more to come!
DEATH IS JUST A KISS AWAY
“Oh well, love is here and so is hate But mainly death is what dictates”
We are back on the opera theme. Looking at the wonderful and very clear lyrics, this would be the aria of Judas himself. The song starts with a sweet cello melody, a pure love song very tenderly sung. Some organ falls in, then piano chords are added. But the song is sustained with sadness. A lover who knows he failed, and the failure is irreparable. Nevertheless, a female choir adds to the bitter sweetness and “makes enemies, no matter who”.
THE HEART IS A TRAITOR
“The heart is a traitor […] But it beats on”
Yes, it is, we all know it. But yet we are fooled again and again. The song is still on the dramatic and balladic side with some more ecstatic if not hysteric moments. It builds up an impressive bow between lyrics, voice, and drums underlined by bass and guitar. It is the legit continuation of the previous song as its no less evil twin.
“Free, redeemed in Utopia Forever in grief, desperate in need of euphoria”
Once again, the piano opens the song. Once again, the well-known baritone falls in with the message he has for us. Honestly, there is not much euphoria left over in it. It remains an unlived dream which has gone astray. An illusion, fake and surreal but maybe still, a little piece of hope to turn the tides. The tension is nearly unbearable.
BE STILL AND KNOW(Instrumental)
Or as a German might say in a less polite way “Shut up and do your job!” Chris Harms hears the command and obeys, his voice remains silent in this the first of the two instrumentals on the album. Well, well, all attention goes to the instruments. You do not miss the lyrics. THEY sing the song themselves in a rockier way than the previous set of gems, and nearly close the first CD with some undefined mumbling to, if not for the next piece of music waiting for us.
THE DEATH OF ALL COLOURS
“The perdition of cosmos and chaos Does the human spirit die?”
Therefore no instruments at all, just Chris’ voice. He regains control. Slowly a male choir starts humming in the background. A female choir falls in – did I already mention choirs? Full of sadness and despair. Is this the end? Yes, this is the end of damnation. We are torn, in need.
Can I already judge the album?
A regular album would be finished now with its final track. This album is just in the middle of itself. We still have another twelve songs. We are curious, more than curious about how the other songs, the other CD, “Salvation” will sound. Are there differences? The curiosity is killing the cat (thank the Highest Being this is not literal) and we cannot wait! So far it is a great album from a great band, a worthy successor of the previous album, “Thornstar”. Buuuuut, let us wait and see what we will think about it as a whole after our salvation.
And this salvation starts with
THE GOSPEL OF JUDAS
“You found your faith and turned on heaven Your blame and shame all be gone”
Two brute guitar chords open the song. They hit you along with the cry “Judas, Judas”, which continues steadily and leads us through. It is an accusation, the ultimate sin. You are the Judas, there is nothing you can do against pre-judgement, selfjustice and prediction. No escape, just “Judas”, 2000 years ago as well as nowadays in our modern world. Once again I’m blown away by the opener of the CD.
“Give me a purpose Some worth for the worthless”
A strumming acoustic guitar along with vocals. It builds up slowly until everything explodes. “Viva Vendetta” is a very special song and part of the Lotl+-project, which can be heard on the bonus CDs of some bundles. You can read about it below the review. Other than that, it might be what becomes a hit single: catchy, very radio affine, a good sing-a-long for the crowd – a perfect stadium hymn.
“Are you out there? I suffer Your thirteenth suffers”
Argent were the coins Judas received. Argent is the second class precious metal, only beaten by cooper or even worse, lead. Not Judas himself but a woman sings the first melody until piano, drums, guitar and bass take over. Judas suffers, he realizes the sacrifice, he realizes the betrayal. He was cheap prey for the high priests as we are nowadays for fake news, fake accounts and social media lies. We pre judge without reflection, without questioning. We are not better than Judas, we are even worse than the 13th disciple.
THE HEARTBEAT OF THE DEVIL
“My empire feeds on me Worn out, I’m a ghost”
Nice song. Under all these little gems it sounds a bit like a filler in the beginning, until after one minute you start understanding the qualities of the mid-tempo guitar and piano driven song. Once again, it comes in the disguise of a catchy melody forged in pain! The vocals supported by, yes, a choir do justice to this great heart beating song. I would finally compare it to the aria of a converted bad boy.
AND IT WAS NIGHT
“Into the dusk you stray In search of an escape”
What a difference! This song starts with some pop music keyboards. Funny enough it almost sounds like a lullaby. But don’t worry, it changes after a short while although, it remains very “not as metal as we expected”. But isn’t that exactly what we expect from Lord Of The Lost? Expect the unexpected and be surprised with what comes next. After every night comes another dawn and another morning, ending with a piano melody it leads into…
“The horizon will weep When it swallows you whole”
Again, a melancholy song. Very basic, very figurative, leaving room for interpretation or just daydreaming away. Revelation and constellation are a center piece of the lyrics. Are they a self-image, which is very complacent or vain? Are they an obsession for someone or something? Are they sane? Or are they forms of the usual madness we are living through? Listen and figure it out, I am curious about your answer!
THE ASHES OF FLOWERS
“All the believers are Gone with the ashes of flowers”
For a change, the sound of kettledrums comes to our ears. A kind of irritating sound effect that makes you think there is a scratch on the disk. Piano and the well-known baritone take over sustained by this under layer. The song explodes and implodes in seconds! One dramatic exchange follows the other all for us to find out, the believers are all gone with the ashes of the flowers. Once again a female choir helps, continuing and finishing the song until we find out, the believers are all gone with the ashes of the flowers, which fade away as does this masterpiece.
“I feared nothing Suffered the cruel”
We are back on a more metal driven path – of course its Lotl-style multi genre metal, so expect the unexpected and you won’t be disappointed. Catchy and bombastic but a harsh and cruel “way back”. An explanation of trust, lost trust, mistrust, friendship, lost friendship and how to deal with them – or not. It is easier to forgive an honest enemy then a fake friend who betrayed you. To say, “with a friend like you, I don’t need an enemy”. Understand the words and message of the song and learn from it for a better future, even if you fight and struggle with…
A WAR WITHIN
“A guilt that man does not deserve Is pain you can’t defy”
It is funny enough that I have “The Lion King” in my mind when I hear the first piano notes and words of this war within. Are they about self-flagellation? Are they about self-destruction, self-sacrifice? Anyway, it is a very lovely song which contains everything in barely five minutes that albums from less skilled bands do not fit into over twelve songs. It is a song which is more fitted to a musical than a metal album, but there we go again, Lord Of The Lost are THE chameleons of all genres.
A WORLD WHERE WE BELONG
“A world where we belong is calling Hope is what we have won”
Yet another song people will either love or hate. Far away from “pure f*cking metal” but close to a metal orchestration. The Swan Songs call for this track! Though wrapped in a nice melody it seems to be a cry for help, assistance, reaching out for support from above. Who is the one above? Is there anyone out there? Is there anything? And if yes, is it worth the effort?
The second of the instrumentals, therefore no lyrics sample is available. Very emotional violin driven intermezzo, before we come to the final song of this wonderful piece of art:
WORK OF SALVATION
“He was our light He shone so bright”
One would expect an explosive metal song for the final, but it is a very picturesque, slow song that explains itself. Salvation is the key. The key for and to everything. All you must do is find the lock and open it. I see it as the closing aria of the dead corpse of Jesus Christ, who has done his work of salvation. Or maybe it is the dead soul of Judas who suffers in agony and hopes for this salvation? I can do nothing but invite you to find out for yourself!
Being completely overwhelmed by the complexity of the album I asked my friend and co-nerditor Muumi-Katja for her most appreciated thoughts about it:
The key figure of the album is Judas. He betrayed Jesus, sold him to the Romans and thus enabled them to kill him. Well, this is at least the most common very brief summary, we encounter. Let’s not question this course of events in order to give space to another thought. Where would Christianity be if there was no Judas, no betrayal of his and thus no martyrium, no … ! Nothing like this at all. Would there be a Christianity in 2021 at all if Jesus had died from old age or any of the other usual suspects meaning common terminal diseases of these days? If he never rose from his grave, I dare say, his previous miracles had gone lost in the dust of history as I think that it was physically overcoming death that granted him immortality as a Christian god. So perhaps we should not blame Judas for betraying Jesus but for giving way to millions of casualties from genocides and wars in the name of Christianity. But enough of this experiment.
What can we learn from it? Obviously good can result from bad. Good will not necessarily travel on the straight road but take detours at times. Being able to tell the good from bad will never work without a critical mind, a sharp eye and a very open-minded attitude. We tend to fall for prejudice. We long for easy solutions the more troubled a situation is. The damn truth is, however, there is no easy solution in any troubled situation which is in sharp contrast to populists’ empty promises. This again brings to a very cool allusion. “Jesus he knows me and he knows I am right.” Do you remember? Good old “Genesis” and their very cynical song on TV priests aiming to get exactly one thing: your money!?!
What is betrayal anyway? Not keeping a secret? Disloyalty? Dishonesty? Cheating? – In the basic setting of Judas’ story his action enables the Roman administration to execute a death warrant. From their perspective a criminal could be brought to trial and sentence. From the perspective of Jesus and his disciples Judas is a traitor. Who is right? Is the Chinese administration right to prosecute Honkong democracy movement activists? Or is the Mafia member right witnessing on court against “La Famiglia”? What about whistle blowers like Mark/Mike??? Snowden? Or Graf von Stauffenberg? Perhaps cheating in a romantic relationship makes an easier to judge example? Or not at all as the question arises if the cheater is betraying himself even more than the partner as possibly the cheater is actually polyamorph but not admitting that to him-/herself? Now be honest: Which sex did “the cheater” have in your mind sort of automatically? It happened, right? You were thinking of one sex as the cheating one. Because this is what our mind does: it tries hard to ease complicate settings by prejudice. The problem is that in later step we accept this prejudice as truth never questioning it again.
But prejudice sort quickly right from wrong. Guilty from innocent. Good from bad. And we stick with these boxes only to open them again when sorting someone or something new into it. These boxes mostly make a formidable prison for everything and everyone we have ever sorted into them. No way out of them again. Jesus, however, released Judas from his box of guilt. Forgiveness despite Judas betrayal meaning Jesus’ certain death. I spare exploring Jesus’ motives for such a big gesture. But his forgiveness ended finally the an-eye-for-an-eye revenge spiral. Each crime deserves a sentence and once this is served the crime is not undone but forgiven. There is no need to concern it anymore. In a slightly closer scope Jesus forgave Judas following his own mind. He simply accepted being different or of different opinion on that matter in favour of everything that united them. Who are we to stick with our separating prejudice?
There Is More Than Black and White
We still need to talk about the cover art. It has two sides of the coin. Damnation is black, Salvation is white, both share a face and the “J” symbol. The booklet of the album which contains lyrics and picture art is built up the same way. Simple but a clear statement of two opposite sides, black and white, no grey, no compromise. It stands for the whole album; it is no compromise. It is a life spanning journey of pre-judgment, self-justice, prediction. The life of Judas in particular but in this case Judas stands every single one of us if not the whole mankind.
How Did The Journey Start?
The idea was raised nine months before it was finally released, to say so, it was like a pregnancy and birth was given to the album on second of July 2021. I personally would have believed, it had taken ages and several years. One must understand the work procedure of Lord Of The Lost. Once the idea is there, mostly coming von Chris Harms, the always busy bee, details start to be worked out precisely. The band, crew and friends build up song writing teams which still might change and diver over the time of the progress and go into exam until the results are there. Ideally the teams start after breakfast and present the new songs for diner.
If you look for influence, idols or role models, it is hard to find and define them. Too complex is the music. Too intellectual and sophisticated are the lyrics. Complexity is the key. The album is further on a journey through the genres. It mixes them all. Lord Of The Lost have no fear about it, it is one of the obvious secrets of their success. They are the chameleons of modern metal music with their origins nearly everywhere. Sure we know, Chris Harms is a fan of Lady Gaga and the early Roxette, Lady Gaga even delivered the idea for the title of the album with her song “Judas”, listening to the song and watching the video explains why. Check it out yourself!
Look At The Lyrics!
Do it carefully, they seem to be full of quotes from films, the bible, philosophes or other band’s songs, certainly not without a good reason. Can you notice them and find out the names behind? We give you one sample, the quote of “Priest” we used is similar to a song of the Genesis. We will find out more about the influence of Genesis during the forthcoming interview.
Judas is not the evil guy, we all have in mind. Judas is the opposite. He is two sides of a coin. Judas is neither the traitor nor the betrayer, he is the victim of pre-judgment, betrayal and false idols. Judas stands for every one of us. We all have a little Judas inside our soul. Think about next time before you judge a person by hear-say.
About a concept?
Neither the album nor its concept are purely biblical. Nor is it an anti-religious album. It is neither a religious album nor is it satanic. It is the modern version of a tragic life which ended in agony. Further on it is the soundtrack of a life. Music-wise it is a modern rock opera in the tradition of other masterpieces as “Tommy” (The Who), “Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Lord Of The Lost themselves are the legit metal, or better multi-genre, version of David Bowie.
Aaaaand there was Lotl+, remember, I already mentioned it during the review of the second song of the second CD, “Viva Vendetta”. 32 artists and bands covered this song with new lyrics and made it their very own version. The result is available on two additional CDs of special boxes. Among the participating artists are for example AnnA Lux, Heldmaschine, Letzte Instanz, Megaherz, Nachtblut, Scarlet Dorn, Tanzwut and Saku Solin (Turmion Kätilöt / Fear Of Domination), just to name a few. A certainly interesting experiment worth more than one additional listen.
At least a masterpiece?
It is impossible to judge this album and remain fair or neutral so I can only give my point of view here. It is a masterpiece. It is the c u r r e n t masterpiece of Lord Of The Lost. Three years ago I thought the same about “Thornstar”, it could not become any better. I am proofed wrong, it became better again. I couldn’t foresee, how high the trees would be, Lord Of The Lost climbed this time – this band certainly can reach the stars of distant galaxies. If I could give them 100 points, I would give them 120 points. “Judas” is pure f*cking perfection!
Being over floated with music, lyrics, information and quality I nearly forget to stress out, Lord Of The Lost is one of the most fan-affine bands I know. There was and still is a lot of interaction going on between band and fans around the release, everybody who wanted to could feel involved. There are special versions and bundles of the album and merch by demand of the fan base “Can’t you do this, can’t you do that?” – “Yes we can”! Yes, they can. Have a look at their website and shop, check their Telegram channel, it is worth it.
Lord Of The Lost are: Chris Harms – lead vocals, guitar, cello Pi Stoffers – guitar Class Grenayde – bass Gared Dirge – piano, synthesizer, percussion, guitar Niklas Kahl – drums