Lunden Reign | American Stranger (Cleopatra)

american stranger_75Not overly done, the material is cohesive and approachable, which is not always so with concept albums.

2015 sees the release of the highly anticipated new full-legnth album from Lunden Reign, with Nikki Lunden and Lori Espenoza-Lunden fronting the five-piece metal band from California. American Stranger is a concept album forged with a straightforward heavy metal sound. Musically reminiscent of artists like Queensrÿche with a touch of Vixen on the vocal, Lunden Reign is a bright light in a flurry of female-fronted metal acts (e.g., The Pretty Reckless and Halestorm) presently on the scene.

The album’s story, which centers on the main character, Mary, is one of struggle and perseverance. This album is a life-defining epiphany seen through the eyes of a woman struggling with her sexuality, humanity, and love. The lyrics guide you through her journey and the concept is well-created and well-written.

Executively produced by the two front women along with Dennis Kennelly, the production is tight and right on cue. Not overly done, the material is cohesive and approachable, which is not always so with concept albums. The band is composed of Nikki on lead vocals, Lora on guitar (as primary lyricist), Ana Lenchantin on cello, and Hector Maldonado (bassist for Train) on the bass (in the recording, while Matthew Denis provides the low end live). Rounded out with Steve Ornst on guitar and Morgan Young on drums, this progressive act weaves a most intricate musical web while not going overboard with time changes and the like.

Lunden’s vocals are passionate and real—a little Pat Benatar, a little Doro-ish—yet she wraps around the melody and makes it her own. The guitars are full of vicious licks and haunting riffs, while the rhythm section cinches it all together.

Heavy and driven, the overall sound of the album is some of the best melodic metal I’ve heard in some time. With a concept most fans can identify with, American Stranger is in a class all its own. B+ | Marc Farr

About Marc Farr 244 Articles
Marc Farr is the Live Music & Assignments Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. He's so invaluable to us, we've nicknamed him Mr. Music. Reach out if you have coverage ideas! "I know it's only rock and roll...but I like it!"
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