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I am listening to an old Krabathor album titled “Lies” and I am just thinking that it seems like this band, with their awesome albums, is quite forgotten / or at least underrated nowadays. Hardly anyone mentions them when listing the best 90’s death metal bands… Is it because they just weren’t one? But for sure Krabathor was – along Vader – the best band from the old communistic block. I wonder why then they never achieved more attention? Vader did! Well, maybe it’s because albums like “Lies” came out in quite unfortunate times for death metal bands… The glorious old days were gone, the underground was tired with this sort of playing and focused on the eruption of black metal or on the softened doom / gothic crap – to which (funny idea!) many previously death metal bands also got attracted to, with hope that this way they won’t rot forgotten. Not many old death crews really survived this time unharmed. Anyway, the underground of mid to late 90’s was still filled with killer death metal bands, the only problem is that their albums were getting much smaller attention! I’m not gonna even mention their names, too many! But I feel like Krabathor was amongst them. So, in case you never heard or never cared about Krabathor, here’s an opportunity to bring this name to your attention as some of their old classics were just re-released. And “Lies” is one of those albums. It has a new digipack version, issued by Mad Lion, but also a nice vinyl edition, released through Monster Nation. How nice! And I got both of these reissues! I am really damn happy to have Krabathor on vinyl, but also to have the CD version of “Lies” finally, as previously I only listened to Krabathor from tapes.
And after all those years, “Lies” still sounds cool. This is some really great, brutal death metal with that old school feeling, which you may remember from the early recordings of Deicide, Hate, Vital Remains, Sinister, etc. Their songs are aggressive as fuck, often relentlessly fast, but at the same time Krabathor does not avoid being melodic, with some almost thrash metal guitar solos and simply being catchy and memorable. Honestly speaking, the album today sounds quite uneven for me. There are some killer songs, but also some, which are maybe too mediocre... I like the brutal side of Krabathor the most, while not all of those slower and more melodic tracks are something I particularly enjoy; sometimes I feel like they don’t have that powerful sound. Anyway, it doesn’t change the fact that as overall “Lies” is damn good album.
They kick off with a killer track titled “The Truth About Lies”, which reminds me “Liquid” from the next album – similar aggression, merciless riffing, fast drumming… what a nice song it is, truly devastating piece! And I really like the production of the album! Then we have “Unnecessarity”, which is again a very good song, even though it has one of those slow and melodic mid-parts, with completely not death metal style guitar solos. But it is, like so many other tracks here, a very good song anyway. And later take a listen to “Short Report From the Ritual Carnage”, “Imperator (Strikes Again)” (which has such an old school thrash / death feeling that I can’t resist… But no surprise, as this song is originally from the old Krabathor demo)… But I mentioned that the album has its ups and downs, and the latter for me are slower songs like “Tears, Hope and Hate” and “Pain of Bleeding Hearts” – they are simply not Krabathor’s best, but only decent tunes, lacking a bit of that aggression and power. Luckily, when these two songs end, then the one afterwards, “Rebirth of Blasphemy”, is nice, heavy and aggressive motherfucker… also slow, but so much heavier! And finally “Stonedream”, which is probably the best combination of fast death metal and epic, melodic stuff here; really nice one!
Both Mad Lion’s CD version and LP contain “The Rise of Brutality” EP 1995 as a bonus. Would love to have the original EP in the collection... Anyway, it’s nice to have it on these reissues. It may not be something particularly impressive, as all songs from it are also featured on “Lies”… but it’s good addition, especially that actually I like these versions more than those from the album haha. They just sound more savage and raw, which I like a lot. And that’s it. It’s great to have “Lies” on LP and CD finally; I really recommend you this and also other Krabathor’s albums; support this Czech force!
Standout tracks: “The Truth About Lies”, “Unnecessarity”, “Short Report From the Ritual Carnage”, “Imperator (Strikes Again)”, “Stonedream”
Final rate: 70/100
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!