Lion Drome Bio
In 2014, Lion Drome, a modern rock / alternative rock / hard rock hybrid (helmed by vocalist, guitarist & songwriter Mike Lopez) released the debut - “Curve of the Earth”. This disc echoed some of the best strains of the 80’s (Winter), alt-pop (the title track) and club grunge rock (The Nite is On) in an impressive first outing. Legendary metal guitarist Chris Poland (Megadeth) even lent his bubbly, jazz fusion-influenced chops to an extended mix of the title track with 90 seconds of diminished scale bliss.
Nomoredivision.com (now pitchperfectsite.com) reviewed the record and the reviewer said that she “felt transported to a world of rock glory and existential, spacey , rock deserts filled with the ballads and triumphant and epic songs from “Curve of the Earth”. She went so far as to call the title track a “potential hit”. Indeed, Lopez’ Lion Drome fancies itself in mining the epic and triumphant as a core tenant of the songwriting and production. Also highlighted was Lopez’ lead guitar chops. More of that would come...
In September of 2022, Mike Lopez was back delivering the follow-up; simply titled Lion Drome. The full-length new self-titled effort is noticeably much more edgy while still holding firm and even pushing further into those epic flavors through many an 80’s & 90s’ lens. It is still polished with multi-dimensional production but less polite than its predecessor. With both releases, a number of contributing musicians appeared but some key hold-overs (namely bassist Mark Foerster and drummer Kenny James) could be found on some key tracks. Producer/Engineer, Dave Beegle, also returned and shaped a nuanced set full of impact and ear candy.
Lead off number is “Here and Gone” and a resounding choice for an obvious single. It has an infectious rock club vibe that sounds like a more muscular Killers or an on-point Billy Idol, with a generous adornment of New Wave synths ala Duran Duran. “I envisioned it being one of those types of songs that gets the girls moving up to the stage”, says Lopez.
In some ways, the gravity of the record is track 2, “SOL 2208”. Tying the artwork together with a tech/space horror narrative that would be at home on Queensryche’s “Rage for Order” album, SOL 2208 (solar day 2208) rein-visions the fate of the Mars rover Spirit (and the fate of Earth) with a Porcupine Tree inspired progressive rock track. Next, “Fashion Blind” is a bobbing head full of hair metal with Muse highlights and a sharp political tongue.
The next three tracks slow the pace. Jeff Buckley is a clear foundation for “Parallel Construction” with its chord voicings, angular execution and emotive payoff signaling his presence. “That Bird Don’t Fly ‘Round Here No More (Reprise)” brings back its modern equivalent of a rock ballad from the debut album and adorns it with a prologue, added cymbal and tom accents and a outro guitar solo. 90’s alt-rock is fairly apparent in song number six, “Lips of Faith”. The ode to the strength of the military spouse, enduring through tours of duty and deployments also hits those classic LD epic notes.
Back to rocking is “Greatest Generation”. This curious but effective combination has in one short, punchy package: chill surf rock, explosive punk choruses and Teutonic lead guitar melodies akin to Uli Jon Roth (70’s era Scorpions). The Vietnam Vet tale underneath adds to its weight. The disc ends with two love letters to the 80’s; a fairly straight Eyes Without a Face (Billy Idol) and a heavier “Sunglasses at Night” (Corey Hart).
In 2023, Mike and cohorts have been back rocking with a vengeance, releasing the singles, Black Light Cobra / U2’s I will Follow as a b-side as well as a tune called Star 5280. The new material definitely showcases Lion Drome’s drift into the shred spectrum with arrangements that delight with depth and menace. Is all of this building to a new EP or full length release? Time will tell, but that is the official plan.
P.S. - So what is a lion drome anyways? Go back to 1930's America and you'll see traveling carnivals canvassing the country, and the "lion drome" just may be one of the attractions you'd witness. Think of a velodrome, the competitive biking sport where racers go round and round in a bowl-like arena with high walls. Then instead of cyclists, insert a motorcycle with a side car and in that side car is a big cat, often a lion! Now that's entertainment.