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If The Rise of Brutality EP was any indicator, Krabathor were about to take a turn towards faster, more violent material, and this is certainly the modus operandi for their third album Lies, which was released through Morbid Records. Considering the speed and level of aggression the band rockets through on this album, it is a surprise the album did not explode the band into the minds and stereos of the rabid death legions of the mid 90s. But alas, 1995 was the year of At the Gates, and Lies went by pretty much unnoticed unless you made a point of carefully following all the strains of European death metal that were exploding in those years.
This may not the best of Krabathor's catalog, I reserve that honor for the more laid back, creepy atmosphere of Cool Mortification, but there is no denying the magnitude of force exhibited here. Almost all of the songs are uniformly faster paced than the band's previous work, and the tones are harsh and biting, but not without the melodic strain that has subtly cycled through the band's composition from the beginning. The band is on fire as a three piece, with Petr Krystof and Bruno Kovarik reprising their roles, joined by new drummer Pegas. Bruno and Pegas are important as they would go on to form Hypnos in 1999, another Czech death metal act well worth tracking down. The mix here feels pretty raw, and perhaps there is a little too much hiss for my personal tastes, but the guitars are good and chunky alongside the caustic distortion of the bass, and the entire experience sears like a charcoal grill in August.
The first two tracks will be familiar to anyone with The Rise of Brutality EP, but both are given re-recordings that match the compact, dense, turbulent atmosphere of this album. As such, a bit of the melody has been leached out of them, and the intensity dialed up. "The Truth About Lies" is fairly devastating in this context, though the melodic riff in the middle of "Unnecessarity" seems to lose something in the transition, but it's beefed up with a nice 10-second noise intro. Once we've struck "Short Report on the Ritual Carnage" we're into the field of new material, and the bulk track weaves between a pair of high speed death/thrash riffs that border on frenetic grinding, with a spiffy, sporadic lead injection somewhere near the latter third. "Tears, Hope and Hate" opens with a brief Pegas' rock beat, and then slower walls of magnificent, lumbering chords that set up a minor contrast to the speed of the three precedents, soon to embark on a journey of excellent, biting melodic rhythms that careen through the multi-faceted verse. In particular I love the picking of the riff before 1:30. "Pain of Bleeding Hearts" is the re-named version of "Pain That Doesn't Hurt" from The Rise of Brutality, given a little more spine and aggression here which in this case feels an improvement.
"Rebirth of Blasphemy" is one of my favorites here, opening with a gloomy pipe organ and the sound of terror to a slower, pummeling intensity. Seriously, listen to that curving riff around 1:40, and the vocals are utterly sick in the best way. The Morbid Angel-like breakdown rhythm during the solo is also excellent, if short. "Imperator (Strike Again)" has more of an uplifting, diabolical thrash pulse beating below its skin, evidence the band has not forgotten their roots, updating them to the vitriol of the era. "Stonedream" is a blast, somewhere between Pestilence's Consuming Impulse and the melodic edge of earlier At the Gates, with a little flange running through the bass and some frantic, killer schizoid riffing. The closing instrumental "Believe" seems somewhat out of place compared to the aggression of the rest of the album, but it's not the first time they've ended with one (remember the great "Temporary Being of Insignificancy" which ended Cool Mortification), but its intriguing arches of lead melody work well with the simple backing chords and establish a glorious finale.
Of all Krabathor's material, I feel that Lies would be the album that appeals the most to fans of death metal (American and European), since it moves along rapidly enough to sate the attention deficient but still has enough riffs and musicality for a fan of actual songwriting and not merely blind brutality. It's scorching and political, abandoning the traces of occult/mysticism that the band hinted at on the prior records, and I personally would award it a reliable silver medal after the gold of Cool Mortification.
Highlights: Tears, Hope and Hate, Rebirth of Blasphemy, Believe
I happened to pick up this cd off of Amazon's marketplace for $3.00. I had heard of Krabathor only through their association with Master, whom I dug alot. I bought this basically to round out an order, with no knowledge of what they sounded like, and I'll be damned if it wasn't the best cd of the lot. I was impressed because of how professionally done this album is, the band is uber-tight, and the production is clear and warm...really very natural sounding and not compressed. The production done on this recording is something I can't emphasize enough, it brings out the best aspect of this album: the guitar riffs and the tone. Riffs have some thrashiness in them, which is good, and a heap of melody in the solos, which is great. The wicked guitar tone only helps to reinforce the two former qualities.
The bass is there in the mix, but it just kind of chugs along with the guitar. Drums are tight as hell-really well done double bass patterns, and Skull is all over the cymbals and toms, and keeps the variety up; he blasts for a bit but can lay back and keep a good groove for the songs to ride along with. Vocals are another great point of Lies, Christopher adds to his impressive guitar playing with some roaring, grizzly-bear death vocals. They don't sound layered, just powerful and adds another destructive piece to this album.
The only sticking point with me is the lyrics, which kind of strike me as being written in an "English as a second language" manner, they are bizarre at times and more than often don't seem to make sense, but it won't make the listener much difference because the performance is able to rise above this. Lyrics cover all your basic death metal song topics: death, murder, rage and good ol' satan. One of the best tracks has no lyrics, which is the instrumental "Believe." This song has amazing fretboard workouts within, the soloing is so tastefully done that I hit the repeat button on my disc player several times just to let it soak in.
This is a very well crafted death metal album that I would recommend to anyone that has a taste for the old stuff. Some of the best songs include: Imperator (a re-recording of an early demo track, according the liner notes), Believe..., Rebirth of Blasphemy (awesome chorus/guitars on this one), and the bonus track Pacifistic Death is a real grinder to close the album out with. It might be a little difficult to find, but my copy is the Pavement re-release, so there should be some used ones floating around, pick it up!
Blasting and beating their way through the Czech Death Metal scene in the early 90s, Krabathor rose above the pack and released 2 absolutely essential pieces of death metal. What makes Lies so much heavier than it’s equally as awesome predecessor, Cool Mortification, is the guitar tone. It can be somewhat overwhelming when you realize just how pummeling and destructive the sound of the guitar is. There is truly a brutal aspect to what Krabathor have accomplished here. The double bass is fast, constant, and unrelenting. The drums are slightly quieter than what I would prefer, but you can hear every technical blast and fill. A lot of the songs follow a similar sound that is truly one only Krabathor has been able to conjure up.
At times the riffs fall into very thrashy territory not all that different from Brazillian thrash bands. The riffs are ALWAYS catchy. If you want, you can headbang to every riff on this album. Rebirth of Blasphemy has absolutely the catchiest moment of death metal I have ever heard. I’ve literally had it stuck in my head for a week or so now. Whenever the backing riff to the chorus lets loose in this song, all I can imagine is some fucking incarnation of Frankenstein’s Monster running about a village with an axe, unmercifully taking out any and all in his way. There’s nothing more fitting the definition of blasphemy than a pieced together monster without a soul!
Imperator (Strikes Again) shoots out of the gates with one of the best examples of thrashy riffage. The chorus here is once again, catchy as a motherfucker. IM-PER-AY-TORR! Who the fuck does death metal gang vocals? Krabathor fucking does baby! Imperator also has the second best solo on the whole album. Fairly technical and fast, and it fades out on quite a sinister note, that the riffage sort of compliments.
Have your ear drums fucking erupted yet?
Absolutely one of the greatest songs ever recorded, Believe… must be one of the most heartfelt instrumental death metal pieces ever. Some people have spiritual awakenings with certain songs (Don’t they? Fuck I don’t know) . I’ve never had one of those, but this song is probably as close as I could ever get. The entire thing bumps up the technicality ten fold, and shreds along for about 3 minutes. It doesn’t contain the dark, brooding, and musty atmosphere that is released from the rest of the album. It has a sort of uplifting quality that fluctuates throughout the song, yet at the end it brings you crashing back down to reality with its abysmal and depressing leads.
What Krabathor has done is created what might be my favorite death metal album ever. It’s classic, classy, catchy, and kicks the shit out of every death metal album released in 1995.
Suck on this Chris Barnes, Chuck Schuldiner, and Glen Benton!