Review Summary: ALL HAIL THE LICH KING!
Thrash metal in all of its various shapes and forms should be shredding riff fest mixed in with a bucket of attitude and sealed with a back-patch worthy album cover. There are many different leans that the genre can take, yet in the end we are brought back by our desire to find another riff worthy of more neck and upper back specific cartilage damage. Lich King is very much a band in the mold of the great thrash masters from the 80’s and 90’s. Listening to their previous work at times was like taking a time machine back to the mid 80’s and early 90’s.
For fans of the band (and the genre) I am happy to report that while not much has changed, everything has matured. Wait, scratch that please, the term improved is more fitting as the band is still excellently rooted in immaturity. Born of the Bomb is classic thrash with a major dose of fun and refreshingly lacking in pretentiousness. Your reviewer is a big fan of all of their work, this release absolutely, and let me be serious here for a moment, shreds your face off. Yes, when you are done listening you will be a mangled, faceless corps on the ground with your neck broken in at least 4,356 pieces. We’re talking serious business from the gentleman in Lich King.
First listening to All Hail one is reminded of tracks like Overkill’s [/i]New Machine or Metallica’s Frayed Ends of Sanity
with a few moments of friendly mob chanting followed by an excellent grooving riff. Immediately the increased production effort stands out. Previous forays into the world of Lich King have often sounded rather muddied and muffled. This release still keeps the old-school thrash essence while not managing to sound like it was recorded in someone’s basement. Clean and technical with that dirty edge that reminds you there is a soul behind the music. Hell, you can even hear the bass on this release! Lyrically the band stays very true to their previous works and abstains from taking themselves too seriously.
Tom Martin’s vocal delivery is a love it or leave it deal, and sounds like a spoken word mix of 1982 Overkill and mid 90’s death metal. Breaking out of his mold from the last 4 releases he even manages to pull off some outstanding, Halford worthy shrieks. The most notable instances of this come during the bands stellar cover of Agents of Steel’s Agents of Steel
. The band is musically more proficient than ever. Founding member Joe Nickerson moving from bass to guitar and the addition of new guitarist Rob Pellegri and bassist Dave Hughes have given way to a ***-ton of riffs. Brian Westbrook’s drumming has always been a highlight for the band and does not let up on this release. Much of the disjointed approach that was found on their previous releases has been eliminated and it makes for a much more enjoyable listening experience. Whether it is attributed to the new members, the increased production or the bands growing experience this is an improved sonic assault from the bay area boys(Massachusetts’s bay that is!).
Is Born of the Bomb a 5 star metal opus that will unite the world like the Wyld Stallions? No. Axe Cop, while the concept is unique (I think they were trying to pull off the auditory equivalent of a comic book) it breaks up the flow of the album at that point and feels like too much of a throwback to their ‘Black Metal Sucks’ days. The placement of the aforementioned cover as the second to last song detracts from the album’s overall flow. While the band has always ended each release with another chapter in the “Lich King” saga, it really throws a wrench in the work this time. I almost felt as if I was finished listening once the Agents of Steel cover was over and felt odd that there was another song. Had the order been switched they would have ended on a high note, both actually and figuratively.
Revival thrash is a sticky subject with many people. The purists all seem to wish that the genre had gone away for good back in the early 90’s while other people wear their pretentiousness like a badge of honor. Do your ears a favor and your neck a disservice; forget about labels for a few minutes, forget what year it is and that thrash hasn’t been “real” since (insert whatever release from 1989 that you thought was great here) was released Check out the Lich King, Born of the Bomb is a prime example of how to do to thrash metal the right way.