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A really, really welcome surprise. That's exactly what the fourth album (or fifth, if we count 'Super Retro Thrash' too) by revival thrashers Lich King has been for me. Not that I am a fanboy or a longtime supporter of the band, to be honest I haven't even listened to their previous efforts, leaving out some sporadic tracks here and there, mostly from 'World Gone Dead'. And neither they do attract me so strongly. But folks, this is impressive, to say the least. It's an evidence that these five guys could also get serious and do something of high level; I know that many people may have doubted about it, however believe me, it's the truth. Provided that you aren't another of those jerks who cast shit all over the retro-thrash scene, in this case there's nothing for you here.
There are a lot of things that could be said for each song, and that's because of its variety, an index of the dedication put by the band. Of course Lich King are no Toxik nor Vektor, but even the most straightforward tracks that we can find on 'Born of the Bomb' left some traces in my mind, urging me to go back and to give them another listen. Furthermore, it seems also that the guys have developed a real sense of humour. I've always appreciated when the artists try to take themselves not too seriously in the act of making music, and concerning this I cannot be disappointed at all. I mean, it's impossible to listen to 'We Came To Conquer' or 'Fan Massacre' without at least wondering what they had drunk before writing the lyrics! Personally I'd rather to laugh out loud and not care too much about it. Nevertheless, without giving excessive space to the lyrics, the music itself steals the scene here. Unfortunately only two of the five musicians who performed here are still in the formation, which is preparing a quite long-awaited follow-up after nearly four years. All in all, that's a really good way to take leave of the listeners, I must say.
Yeah, the ten songs on here are absolutely top-notch thrash metal. The guitars play the key role on 'Born of the Bomb' as the riffs fill each and every song, without falling in repetitiveness too easily, and the SOLOS! Man, Rob Pellegri is an absolute beast, and he's surely the one I'll miss the most, with all the respect due to the rest of the line-up. Once again, 'Fan Massacre' is a perfect example of the proper way to abuse your six strings and at the same time to sound fantastic. But don't be afraid, these Sadus/Slayer-esque deviations are not prominent as there is a major sense of melody throughout the rest of the album. For example, 'Wage Slave' is a damn solid track (those blast-beats in the intro!) softened with a sweet solo which, albeit not as technical as the others, fits perfectly in. Another trademark Lich King hit may be the following 'In the End, Devastation', a track greatly well-structured and unexpectedly varied.
Notwithstanding all this, the second half of the album succeeds to impress even more than the former, as it opens with the surprising, and nearly nine minutes long, monolith that is 'Agnosticism', the outcome of a more serious work of songwriting, facing the theme of life after death; the song itself is a welcome variation in the script, with its mid-paced approach and the vocal lines focused on melody. Once again, admirable work. And trust me, things keep going better and better: the couple 'Combat Mosh'/'Axe Cop' features probably the most simple recipe, yet the latter stands out thanks to some of the best riffs you'll find nearby and its perfect use of gang shouts in the catchy chorus. I assure you that it will stick in your head for a while. Now how would you round off a work of this extent? Well, the 'Agents of Steel' cover is, needless to say, successful: that riff would be cool even if played with a garbage grinder, it's true, but somehow Lich King make their style fit in a song nearly 30 years older. And it sounds really good. Finally we have the last one: it continues the saga of the Lich King-related tracks (one per album so far), but this time there is a pair of (really) special guests. And when I read their names, I couldn't have been more excited: no less than Patrick Lind and Jay Visser from Morbid Saint! The first is immediately recognizable from his evil, harsh voice which seems to have been preserved for decades, since 'Spectrum of Death' came to life. Vice versa, Jay Visser lends his hand in the monstrous solo of the song, rivaling with Pellegri to create an absolute shred-fest which ends epically this fantastic album.
I can't express a final judgment without repeating the words 'impressive' and 'surprising' once again. In my opinion Lich King couldn't really make something better than this. Even the vocalist performance, usually not so exciting in the past, is more than decent here: the falsetto-like chorus of the Agent Steel cover is a precious addition to all this. The rest of the band is surely at a higher level, as I've hinted above. After my experience with 'Born of the Bomb' I have started to follow more the band, on hold for a worthy successor of this little masterwork; because, like it or not, a revival thrash masterwork can sound like this too. Who knows if the new line-up will disappoint all the expectations or turn out to be even more successful than this one; what it's possible to assert for sure, is that five guys who can claim a release like this can also live on the fat of the land and be satisfied at the same time.
Kudos to the King.
Lich King has made waves in the metal community primarily for their comedic take on thrash, i.e. "Black Metal Sucks", "Attack of the Wrath of the War of the Death of the Strike of the Sword of the Blood of the Beast". However, unlike their contemporaries in Gama Bomb this element of the band seems to feel more childish and contrived. Luckily, the band has seemingly taken notice of this and released two more serious albums, 'World Gone Dead' and this, 'Born of the Bomb'. With this album we see perhaps the best production the band has achieved so far. Lich King offers here solid riffing, crisp drumming, but unfortunately still, subpar vocals. Despite this, Tom Martin sounds the best on this album than he has ever before, and that makes this the most palatable Lich King album to date.
Instrumentally, we're not given much here that others in the current thrash world aren't already doing better. This has always been my primary gripe with Lich King, that besides an annoying singer they don't offer anything out of the basic thrash mold. Yet even still, the songwriting here is the best we've seen from Lich King yet, "Agnosticism" and "In the End, Devastation" being the most notable among them. "Agnosticism" really is the crown jewel of the album, and showcases the better side of Lich King, with a more serious message and matured, pertinent writing.
The rhythm section with Brian Westbrook (drums) and Dave Hughes (bass) are thunderous and the better production in particular really brings out their ferocity. Joe Nickerson (rhythm guitar) has accomplished a good, gritty tone and is consistently tight throughout.
It goes without saying, as it's been said before a hundred times, but they really did nail the Agent Steel "Agents of Steel" cover. This album really is on the whole a good throwback to some classic thrash, but it just doesn't live up to what other contemporaries are doing nowadays with Havok, Warbringer, and Gama Bomb. This is a good album for those looking to explore what's going on the underground thrash scene now, but it's hard to recommend it as a "must hear!" album. Good hooks and riffs throughout, recommended to fans of the late 2000's thrash movement and old school thrash.
Highlights: "Agnosticism", "Axe Cop", "In the End, Devastation"
"Maybe other bands play, and maybe Manowar kills. But none of that s**t matters, Lich King Rules!". As i expected, Lich King didn't disappoint. After I had the chance to listen to their last album I was sure that the new one will be a good one and after listening to it I'm so happy I was right!
First of all, the mixing and the audio quality are better than any other Lich King record. The riffing is awesome, many of the riffs are pretty catchy and the songs are very well structured. The drummer works hard for the money, the bass is audible and the vocals are as good as usual. The thing that impressed me the most are the solos, the composition and complexity is awesome. I couldn't listen to a song without liking the solo. All of this combined make an awesome thrash album. It's hard to compare this album because Lich King have developed a pretty original style which is hard to compare, still it's pretty obvious that the Exodus, Testament or Kreator influences are there.
The lyrics are written with the same humorous style, keeping you entertained: "Fans are all jerks/Thanks for the tour bus but now we don't need you... so goodbye" (Fan Massacre) & "I will throw a baby/To save the town from scum/They explode robot heads/'Cause babies are dumb" (Axe Cop, a song based on the "Axe Cop" comic) being my favorite ones. Not all the lyrics are on the same humorous track, though. Some of the songs are covering serious topics, like philosophy or the economic system. If you have a good sense of humor and you like social-based topics, you will like the lyrics.
The overall atmosphere is a violent one, as it shall be (it's thrash, after all), but this album has the perfect combination between music and lyrics so you can't get bored. One of the best things about it it's that it doesn't get repetitive. Maybe a riff or two will seem to be alike, but overall it will keep you entertained for the whole audition. Every song deserves to be checked out, but the highlights for me are "Agnosticism", "Fan Massacre", "In the End, Devastation", "Combat Mosh" and "Axe Cop". They also covered an Agent Steel classic, "Agents of Steel" and did an excellent job.
Even if you're a die-hard old-school fan I'm sure you will still enjoy this album. It keeps the old-school sentiment alive and also has that new-wave feeling in it. For me, it's one of the best NWOTM albums. Also, if you enjoyed World Gone Dead, i'm sure you're gonna like Born of the Bomb too.