Label: Stormspell Records
Release date: September 28, 2012
Having had the good fortune to come up in the Bay Area when American thrash metal was born, I have always maintained a fondness for that early sound. Massachusetts based metal merchants, Lich King, channel that early 80s thrash vibe that so many others attempt, but few do well. On Lich King’s fourth album, “Born Of The Bomb“, they do just that.
The quintet hails from Greenfield, Massachusetts and began its old school assault in 2004 unleashing a string of self-released sonic beasts starting with 2007’s “Necromantic Maelstrom”, followed by “Toxic Zombie Onslaught” in 2008 and “World Gone Dead” in 2010. They recall the early years of Exodus, before the band became tragically over shadowed my Metallica. There are sonic ties to the likes of Forbidden, Vio-lence, Overkill and even Legacy (early Testament), with an occasional nod to Slayer and a salute to Anthrax. A lot to live up to, but Lich King can handle the pressure.
With “Born Of The Bomb” Lich King has set a propulsive foundation in the rhythm section of drummer Brian Westbrook and bassist Dave Hughes. Vocalist Tom Martin’s caustic caterwauling crosses between that classic thrash signature with some elements of hardcore in his delivery. Of course it is the riff that matters most and Joe Nickerson and Rob Pellegri keep them coming crisp, edgy and mosh pit worthy. Pellegri knows when to offer up the complimentary moments of shred which are often delicious highlights of each song such as on “Combat Mosh” (Jay Viser of Morbid Saint also lays it down here), though he occasionally has meandering moments as he does on “Fan Massacre”.
The album opens with “All Hail”, a worthy intro that perhaps lasts a minute longer than necessary, but the riff is good, and we can get behind the chant of camaraderie. Plus it’s an immediate boon that the band has improved its production with this effort.
Hey guess what, bitch, we’re back
Let’s get down to business
Beard, short hair, and I’m fat
Yet I’m killing this shit
Patch your vest, grow your hair
It won’t make a difference
You’re an ass if you care that we look like this
Preach on Brother.
“Wage Slave” takes on the paycheck to paycheck, cattle call, rat race society most of us endure. While the lyrics are gut-punch relatable, the band does not take itself too seriously, which is one of its charms.
“Fan Massacre” is an absolutely bruising neck-cracker and chiropractors everywhere should be singing the band’s praises. “In The End, Devastation” is, well, devastating, with its Exodus groove and hardcore Anthrax vocal line.
The band really fires it up on the pit-swirling battering ram, “Axe Cop” which is a lyrical reminder that the band has no desire to grow up. Just get in the pit and hit some shit.
The band offer up a decidedly maniacal cover Agent Steel’s “Agents of Steel”, which includes a damn tasty solo by Sonic Pulse guitarist, Dave Carlino.
If there is a con with this record it would be the lumbering and labored eight-minute songs; “Agnosticism” and “Lick King IV (Born Of The Bomb)”. The former track has a decidedly Middle Eastern flavor than is quite well done in it’s Metallica-esque way, but it simply drones on way too long. The latter is more in the band’s typical wheelhouse, which begs the question; why the excess baggage? Trim the fat guys. You are best when you are hammer down caroming off the walls. Quick bursts of aural mayhem. This is what Lich King does best.
“Born OF The Bomb” finds Lich King at the top of the New School of Old School Thrash hierarchy alongside the likes of Havok. Perhaps one of the most under-the-radar thrash releases of 2012, “Born Of The Bomb” is non-stop riff-fest and a more than worthy addition to any headbangers Xmas list.