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"Once upon a time, Thor and He-Man were fighting. He-Man swung his sword of power and Thor met it with Mjolnir, his mighty hammer. The resulting lightning storm killed them both, but from the blood and ozone and blackened bits of bone a new band was born. This would be the greatest thrash metal band in history. This is their tale. Then they wrote some songs and stuff, casting their spell upon the altar of steel. Gary Holt took a listen and his ears burst into flame. Billy Milano began weeping as he listened, and he threw himself from a bridge in despair. Jeff Hanneman listened to BUT ONE Lich King song and shook his head, then broke his guitar over one knee. He walked into a Staples and began filling out an application."
According to the band, this is how Lich King began, and when your vocalist is listed as “A Fucking Tyrannosaur” on the credits, you can do whatever you want in my book. It’s actually been quite hard to find realistic information on Lich King, since they are forum gurus themselves and edit all information regarding the band to please their ridiculous sense of humor. On their MySpace, they proudly proclaim that their music is intended for old-school fans of, and I quote exactly, “Exodus, Vio-Lence, S.O.D., Overkill, Dark Angel, Anthrax, Testament, Anne Murray, and Slayer”. Little did you know, Anne Murray is considered a brutal legend among true thrashers (just listen to “Snowbird” because if that doesn’t make you want to sodomize a virgin and sacrifice a ferret, nothing will).
Being funny without backing it up musically is a pointless feat, and Lich King (thankfully) realizes this, because “Necromantic Maelstrom” is a total ode to Bay Area thrash, yet sounding fresh at the time. In today’s thrash world, it’s almost considered impossible to praise old material, all the while crafting your individual sound, and that’s what makes Lich King so proficient at what they do. In short, they don’t copy Exodus' riffs and add a new note at the end just to call it their own. Instead, they take the ideas laid down those 20 years ago and breathe new life into them. Rambo and The Hulk, the aptly named guitarists, demolish everything in their wake without even batting an eye. The opening track “Lich King” is just riff upon riff of blazing fury and palm-mutes. The whole onslaught continues throughout the albums entire length, with “Reavers” and “Thrashssacre” curb-stomping the audience into submission. This kind of destruction when paired up with the vocalist, who not surprisingly does sound like a fucking tyrannosaur due to his throaty growl, hasn’t been seen since the 80’s.
It’s not just that they write pure riffs in the vein of the old days, but their production choice just buries any modern competition. Rather than go for that polished, lets-turn-up-the-bass-drum newer sound, Lich King reverted back to the gritty production values that were found on albums such as Exodus’ “Bonded by Blood”. The payoff from this choice is immense; it really gives the songs that intense, sporadic feel that thrash was once known for. This kind of production paired up with Lich King’s light-hearted fun is just something that needs to be heard. Take a look at their song titles: “Thrashssacre”, “Kill Your Guts Out”, and “Mascot War”, all of which show that Lich King is out for fun. “Mascot War”, for example, depicts a fictional battle between metal mascots and cereal ones, which has Toucan Sam being kneecapped and having his beak smashed, Vic Rattlehead bashing Silly Rabbit’s head in with a rock, and Cap’N Crunch being stomped and pissed on because “Sgt. D was coming and he was on his list”.
It’s hard not to enjoy “Necromantic Maelstrom” for what it is: modern thrash that doesn’t sound modern, but it just represents something else entirely. It represents that the genre itself really is coming back to life, and that is something that has been argued since the beginning of this decade. With all of these Metallica and Slayer rip-offs emerging, Lich King along with bands like ExMortus are surely at the top of the food chain. Bands come and go, but here’s to hoping that Lich King stick around for as long as possible. Hell knows we need more like them.