Thanks to Yann from the Losts for sending me a copy of their second album for review. I like this a lot, partly because everything in it takes me back, some of it a long way, but it seems like it can't have seen release longer than about five minutes ago (it came out last May). They call what they do "dark heavy metal" and it's a union of a lot of older styles into a powerful new mix. For a while, I found myself instinctively pulling out all the influences but eventually they just bludgeoned me into just listening without thinking. I'd love to hear the Losts on stage, because there ought to be some serious energy coming out of this band.
The first influence I heard was Iron Maiden, which is present in everything from the operatic vocal style of YGC through the guitars of DGC to the galloping back end of JCR and PPG. However, there is a density of sound here and that carried more of an early Metal Church vibe to it, with perhaps some Manowar in there too and a whole lot of Sword, if you remember them; the Losts could take on Sword's Outta Control and nobody would believe it wasn't an original song. Sword are riddled throughout Tattoo the Child, which is the lively opener the album needed.
If that suggests that they sound like a North American heavy/power metal band, that's not unfair but The Priests Control expands that list of influences back to the old world. There's one dissonant guitar chord that's American and contemporary, but everything else screams European and proto-extreme. It's Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate and Motörhead with Bruce Dickinson joining King Diamond and Rob Halford at the busy microphone. I really dig the bouncy riff this one has and it only gets bouncier as it goes, because the vocals update to a more extreme, almost black metal sound. The extreme metal cover art is misleading but not entirely.
In other words, there's a lot here to explore and that's before A Path to Arabia opens up an ethnic side to the band, In the Steam of Opium bears the clear marks of doom and Write My Name in the Light escalates the Judas Priest sound up to Blind Guardian epic stature. That sort of diversity is a constant, it seems. Revelation of the Losts is a singalong Teutonic power metal anthem, designed for big European outdoor festivals with large willing crowds. Inner Wounds, with its choral chorus and ethnic riffs, feels more like Therion. Pharaoh's Curse has an Accept-style riff to build it.
So, if the Losts aren't one band, are they all bands wrapped up together in an energetic tribute to what these guys were listening to back in their misspent youths? Maybe a little, I guess, but there is common ground here. The guitars are heavy but always traditional, the back end energetic and a little more willing to step into extreme. The vocals are, well, quite a lot of things, depending on the current need, but, at heart, they're almost always powerful and melodic.
Whenever the band aren't adding another new influence, they go back to a Priest/Maiden sort of hybrid, galloping along in time honoured Maiden fashion with vocals that often remind of Bruce, but with riffs and changes more reminiscent of Priest. This default mode is there in Until the End and The Drug I Miss and others. And it's never far away, even when something else is layered over it, always ready to serve as the bedrock for another exploration into influence.
I guess this all means that the Losts aren't the most original band to emerge from France lately—they're certainly not rewriting genre boundaries like Aephanemer or Gojira, but they are very good indeed at what they do and there can't be many other bands that are this much sheer fun. I'll certainly seek out their debut, ...of Shades & Deadlands, released in 2016 with a different bass player, but I'm also aching to see them live. Now, given COVID and the existence of the Atlantic Ocean, that may be tricky, but hey. One day.