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(I don't) hail the Lich King - 55%

Felix 1666, December 17th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2007, CD, Stormspell Records (Limited edition)

In many cases, you are no lucky man when playing in an US American thrash band in the 21st century. The shadows of the Bay Area role models are simply too long. On the one hand, the exciting aroma of any kind of pioneering days cannot be reproduced, on the other hand, it remains a fact that bands such as Forbidden, Dark Angel or Agent Steel had fabulous songwriters. Are there any "younger" bands that are able to drink from the "Chalice of Blood"? Guys who have witnessed "The Burning of Sodom"? Or talented dudes who have spat into the cocktails of the "Agents of Steeeeel"?

Lich King's debut from 2004 fails to join the hall of fame. American thrash metal has seen much better albums than the first effort of this five-piece. Lich King do not lack energy and the technical skills seem to reach a solid level. The average velocity reflects the formation's will to destroy everything that stands in its way, but velocity alone has never been a quality feature. Where are the riffs that benefit from the energetic surrounding? They are widely missing. The album is filled to the brim with sawing and rasping guitars, but the guys at the six strings fail to offer outstanding details. Sometimes I think this or that section has the potential to grow, but at the end of the album, Lich King commit suicide. They remind us of the invincibility of the classics. Both "Bodies on Bodies" and "A Lesson in Violence" (with a short tribute to "No Love" at the end) kill the band's own material without turning a hair. Moreover, it becomes obvious that it was no good idea that lead vocalist Tom Martin challenges Paul Baloff (R.I.P.). The natural vileness of Baloff is entirely lacking.

Speaking of Tom Martin, this guy has not fully understood the tasks of a thrash metal vocalist. Instead of supporting the sharpness of the guitars with a clear and aggressive style, he sounds like a drunken man in his mid-fifties. Especially the actually acceptable opener, which provides a well arranged solo part, suffers from his awkward and mostly expressionless bawling and this might be the reason why both the second and the fifth track are instrumentals. However, this dude needs binoculars in order to see in the distance the level of guys like Russ Anderson or John Cyriis. By the way, the old "heroes" did not sing about the "Mascot War", where Sargent D, Flotzilla and Snaggletooth, to name but a few, fight against each other. But Lich King is a humorous unit... and I have to determine that this kind of lyrics matches the quality of the lead vocals very well. Thus, let's have a look at the performance of the instrumental section.

Well, songs like the aforementioned instrumental "Caveman Aggression" are not free from banalities. Lich King's guitar work does not give me thrills in abundance. Some ideas work, some are rather trivial. "Reavers" illustrates the ambivalence of the record. It starts promising with a swift riff and a straight verse, but the band is not able to maintain the momentum. Instead, the guys move to a Slayer-tribute-riff-session and lame sections. Incoherence is the word that comes to my mind whenever I hear the songs of this pretty dull produced work. Moreover, the vocals push aside the guitars. This is anything else but helpful, because exactly some Hanneman-influenced riffs ensure that the album does not fully go in the wrong direction. Either way, whoever gave the sceptre to the young Lich King, he or she forgot that the old idols still reign. And now I leave - I feel the urgent need to listen to "Hell Awaits", "Forbidden Evil" or "Bonded by Blood".

weird. i don't know...problematic? - 50%

beatleringo, January 26th, 2012

In the 80s, you had your thrash powerhouses and you had your second- and third- division thrash bands. With the resurgence of thrash in the 2000s, the same thing is happening. Lich King would somewhere fall into the tiers below the powerhouses.

This is really a strange collection of ideas, rhythmically. It's hard to latch onto and sometimes it almost works, while other times you simply have the feeling you've heard this before done much better. You have riffs that sound very derivative of classic bay area thrash bands like Vio-lence and thrash/death-tinged Possessed, even. This is for fans who really like rhythm guitars as they have plenty of riffs to trot out. So, if you like that kind of sound, as I do, you'll find yourself banging your head on occasion. At other times, you'll border on cringing.

The production is an obvious problem, though with the song-writing hovering just above competence the whole time, i can't say it was a real factor in how I feel when listening to this. It can be very tinny and almost industrial-sounding (fake sounding) at times, especially when it comes to the cymbals. I've heard it said a bad cymbal sound can literally ruin a record by itself, and when listening to a track like Caveman Aggression, it sounds like the cymbals you would find on an electronic Roland drum kit. During the bass/cymbal interplay around 1:45 of Mascot War, this problem really stands out.

The second problem is the vocals. Remember the Coven - Boneless Christian album? There was thrash metal on that record that sounded totally full and heavy, killer riffs galore... and then the dude sang. It took a song that was headed for a 5-star triumph and popped it like a balloon. That happens in most of these songs, only make them 4-star triumphs. If Lich King are ever to be known as a national act and hit the festival circuit, it would benefit them to do something about the singing. Re: change dudes.

I simply don't feel convinced here. I feel empty listening to it, like I'm listening to a bunch of metal fans who know their shit, but they don't know how to songwrite. Ultimately, there isn't anything memorable on this album. It makes solid background noise, i'll give it that much. And I don't HATE it, I feel Lich King just gets smoked by the other bands doing this right now. And when I put this alongside a bonafide classic like Vio-lence - Eternal Nightmare, which they obviously want listeners to do, it becomes irritating, like comparing a Hallow's Eve record to Reign in Blood. If you know someone who says Hallow's Eve was where it's at, when you know it was basically third-tier, then you know someone who needs a little metal education.

Speaking of metal education, when I saw they covered Vio-lence (Bodies On Bodies) and Exodus (A Lesson In Violence) on this record, it made me give them the chance they may not have otherwise gotten out of me. It's clear they are metal FANS, but maybe aren't necessarily pros at taking those influences from countless hours of thrash listening and turning it into a great thing themselves. When a new band covers an old classic, they better do something to update it and perhaps even improve upon the original, while of course not replacing the power the original had. The talent just isn't here. This is cut-out bin thrash. Ironically, I got my first Vio-lence tape out of a cut-out bin for 88 cents in the late 80s. I turned that into a life-long fascination with Vio-lence. This album would not have received that same adulation given the same circumstance. Sean Killian is one of the all-time sick metal vocalists. The rendition of Killian's classic Vio-lence delivery presented here makes Killian sound like Dio in comparison, rather than the broken glass-spewer he is. I'm simply not convinced. The gang background vocals on Bodies reveal another missing dimension in Lich King. It sounds like I asked everyone at my last family barbecue to record themselves yelling "BODIES ON BODIES!" and threw it on an album. "Hey, Uncle Jim... say, that's a sweet I.O.U. sweatshirt... yell 'bodies on bodies' into this mic here for me, would you?" Again, not convinced. Thrash metal is nothing BUT conviction when it's done right. Baloff would call these guys posers. I won't go that far, because they clearly have a start and they're young.

Perhaps we have one of those bands simply trying to find their way and by the time album #3 rolls around (i see they're on #4 as i write this, but i'm gunshy about trying another one...we'll see), they will be the monster act they seem to desperately WANT to be. But, they aren't there on Necromantic Maelstrom. And I really hoped for that.

Lich King- Necromantic Maelstrom - 75%

danbedrosian, April 17th, 2011

Lich King parades themselves around as a thrash outfit that sounds like original thrash. It's a fairly large statement especially with the thrash resurgance occurring.

The vocals on this album remind of some classic thrash metal singers like Russ Anderson of Forbidden. It's a little tough to put my finger on who it sounds like but it's just not original. The vocals are ok as long as Tom Martin isn't trying to do death metal vocals or whatever the hell he's doing in the opening track named "Lich King". The vocals aren't anything special

The lyrical content of Lich King is questionable. On some tracks like on "Kill Your Guts Out" sound serious and "Mascot War" is supposed to be funny or at least I thought it was. "Mascot War" is about cereal mascots and metal mascots in a war. It's almost like they try too hard to be both funny and a bunch of classic metal lovers. Some song lyrics are just weird and don't really classify as humorous but this isn't there next album which as more "humor" songs.

The guitar work for this album is very repetitive. Most thrash metal bands will play something to a certain point and have an alteration. Not these guys. If they were truly classic-sounding they wouldn't play the same thing sixteen times. The guitar solos need much work. They are weak, stretched out, and repetitive. Looks like these guys had excellent teachers. I suppose they were told "Just play the same thing for five minutes and you'll have a most excellent song", hell, they listened to their Bill-and-Ted-esque teacher. I suppose the their teachers even told them to fuck the bassist over as he makes no sound on this album. Not even classic thrash bands did that. Bands like Metallica, Vio-lence, and Testament made their bass audible. Lich King didn't even do this. The drumming on this album is ok I suppose. There isn't much presence of the drummer but you wouldn't be paying attention to the drums if you were caught up on how damn repetitive the guitars are.

Lich King really lacks outstanding musicians. This is probably why no one knows them. That is anyone who doesn't play World of Warcraft that is (World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King). Maybe that's why they are signed to StormSpell records. I have nothing against StormSpell so I suppose that I haven't heard of them in association with any big metal band out there so that has to say a lot. I was fairly generous. I liked their effort and the songs weren't all that bad. If you want to pick up this album don't expect any classic sound is all.

Winner - 85%

Shovel, May 21st, 2008

Lich King may not be the most serious thrash metal band out there, but they can still thrash the fuck out of your neck. This debut album from the boys out of Amhurst, MA is a solid record of old school thrash reminiscent of Dark Angel, Vio-Lence, and non-crappy Exodus. The vocals are a bit wierd, sounding as if they used an entirely different recording process for them. The production overall is nice, though, except for the occasional oddity in the drumming. I can imagine that this sounds amazing live, and hopefully Lich King will tour soon so I can hear them live. All of the riffs are extremely solid, memorable, and fast. Even the "slow" song, "Thrashssacre", has enough of a gallop to it that you won't find yourself bored with it.

Some of the songs have awesome lyrics, too. "Mascot War" is about the old thrash metal mascots beating the shit out of cereal mascots. "Kill Your Guts Out" seems to be out killing yourself in the most creative ways possible. "Thrashssacre" is about, well, a massacre of thrash metal.

On top of eight original songs, you get two awesome covers. "Bodies on Bodies", originally by Vio-Lence, and "A Lesson in Violence" originally by Exodus. This is thrash for thrash's sake. If you're a scene fag, don't listen to this. It may make your pussy hurt.

Grand finale: Lich King vs. Manboobs! - 10%

cinedracusio, May 13th, 2008

Had to give a smaller percentage, this was way too idiotic to get those magnificent 35 points! Expect a big null for your sophomore insult to good taste, Manboobs, I mean Lich King.

Attention, people, be it pricks or oldies, homeless dicks or Hollywood stars, thrashers or nonthrashers! This is the Shroomie Control Center here, responding to the nonsensically ferocious jaws of praise that grabbed this album and don't let it go! I mean, yeah, I saw fine albums bashed by otherwise fine reviewers, and now I see chunks of uselessness praised by fine reviewers! I guess that Hulk sniffed some glue and started this thrash band.
I am a fan of the ol' good Bay Area sound, and I don't have problems with humour in music or rawer production. "Then this album should have done the trick!" Noooo, go trick your nuts and hit 'em with a truck, it would give much better results than this album.

Round 1: Raw Production enters the ring, it looks pretty grizzly, it's trebly, it's razor-sharp, it's thrusting its fist towards you!!! But wait, what was that? Oh, no! Raw Production's arch nemesis, Tone Thinness, along with her older sister, Idiotically Thin Guitar Tone, jump in front of Raw Production! So exciting! What is happening right now? Raw Production is beaten to the ground and gangbanged by the two vile characters! What a manky mode to end such a promising fight and knock Raw Production values off!

Round 2: The Skvllfvcking Riffz Gang is hotter than ever! They promised us a masterful display of old-school techniques in order to determine the listeners to bang their heads and bite their tongues. Yes! YES!! The Skvllfvcking Riffz Gang succeeded in almost ripping off the beginning from Vio-Lence's Eternal Nightmare! So old-school, so refreshing, so invigorating! Now it's time for the Bonescrewing Dictator Of Rehashment And Radioactive Boredom to make its appearance! And he has a giant bazooka, omgz! The Gang won't give up, and they try to kick his sorry ass to pieces, but one shot from the Dictator's bazooka is enough to convert them to crappy, repetitive, bland riffs hopping all around the place! And there's the Dummy-Drummy Tiny Magician, trying to do his best in drumming and save the Gang from being lynched by the angry metalhead mob! Instead of grandiloquent, solid, relentless beating, he can only draw a slower than fast general tempo, a few farty "yo homey" breakdowns (a term coined by confrontational writer and thrash philosopher UltraBoris) and stinky cymbal sounds that make everything worse! Pathetic, indeed!

Round 3: The Almighty "Slick Dick Cuntpiercer" Lead Guitar! Oh, wait, he seldom burps a solo, each solo is standard, has been smoked before and will therefore be IGNORED.

Round 4: The Groaning Losertron gives his peak performance! What kind of question is "what performance", you goose? It's screaming! Screaming and screaming and screaming and screaming, only high-pitched screaming, no bleeding. Pointlessness blessed this guy with a nice set of funny lyrics and an even nicer set of lack of talent.

In a nutshell: Nocturnal Breed, Mastery et al. take the cake for serious thrash assaults! Lich King take the Manboobs Award for being so persuasive, so motivated and so... so... so... so... so covering those two awesome songs by one veteran act and one incredibly awesome act! They should do only covers, it would be so much better. This album sounds just like a bunch of rehearsals with two excellent covers at the end: a hairy Neanderthal guy with two superb boobs. And this, my friends, is sad.

The Great Thrash Lord Anne Murray is pleased. - 90%

SouthofHeaven11, April 28th, 2008

"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.

LICH KING necromantic maelstrom LP - 95%

immortalicide, March 23rd, 2008

As a remnant from the first wave of thrash, I think it is great that this style has been re-incarnated, and so close in style to how it was when I was a teenager too. The scene here in the UK is thriving, and also in the USA things are happening at a healthy pace, starting with the great Merciless Death album, then this masterpiece of neck-antagonising fury!!!

Lich King hail from Massachusetts but have a spiritual home right in the living rooms of bay area legends like Exodus and Vio-lence (both of whom have songs represented on here). It amazes me just how this has absorbed no influence outside of pure thrash, and is all the better for that. Right from the opening track, the self titled Lich King, this just blows me away. Its plethora of riffs and harsh vocals set the scene for what could almost be a regressive journey into my childhood!!!! The guitar sound is sharp and cutting, kind of like they are using electrified razor wire instead of strings. The mix and production are near perfect for thrash, being not too bass driven and brutal a la death metal or metal core style, but again they have encaptured the 80s sound here too.

This vinyl version contains 2 bonus tracks unavailable elsewhere and their is a die hard clear vinyl version of just 100 copies.
Highlights among the 12 tracks are the awesome Mascot War, a song about a massive raging battle between American breakfast cereal mascots and such vicious Metal band mascots as Sgt D, Vic Rattlehead and Eddie. An amazing concept for a song!!!!! The song itself is the newest on display here and if this is the direction they are going it bodes well for the future of my ears, but definitely not my neck!!! It is a fast and furious thrasher with some riffs that Gary Holt would have sold his anal virginity to write!!!!! The former instrumental track Cinderblock, has been given lyrics and is one of the bonus songs here, and it is an amazing speed metal workout. Another of my personal favourites is the instrumental track The Werewolf, and every time it comes onto my iPod, the howling wolf and pure speed metal opening riff makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. This is just how thrash metal should sound. Lich King have also paid homage to their forefathers as I mentioned earlier with covers of Exodus’s A Lesson In Violence, and Vio-lences Bodies on Bodies. Both of which were pretty amazing tracks to start with, but here they are re-worked with the Lich King magic and the result is astounding!!!! Absolutely none of the ferouciousness of the tracks is sacrificed in these versions, and I would even dare to say that the Exodus cover actually surpasses the original, something I would have said was an impossibility before I had heard this.

With bands like Lich King to fly the flag for the new wave of thrash metal, there is no way this is going to be just a flash in the pan resurgence for the style music I grew up with, I just wish I wasn’t so old and decrepit so I could throw away my walking stick and slam myself around my retirement home to its pure magnificence!!

The new kings of bay area thrash - 94%

Visionary, October 6th, 2007

Ahh Lich King, a band I have been keeping my eye on for quite a while now. The band’s website may make the band seem like they have egos about 5 times larger than their heads but after getting to know Tom somewhat through a forum it quickly becomes apparent that he is quite the jokester and this cockiness was actually just mistaken for just kidding around. Today some bands take their music really seriously but leave no room for a sense of humor. Lich King successfully manage to create some serious music while retaining a sense of humor. Tom shows his love for bands like Municipal Waste, F.K.U. and Dr. Living Dead for their goofy lyrics, imagery and of course heavy ass kicking riffs to go along with it.

Of course the real heart of Lich King seems to lie in the bay area scene. The riffs have that sense of melody and a cleanliness about them that separated the bay area from the rest of the thrash world in the 80s. Void are the elements that made up the German thrash identity. There is no blackened vibe to be found here whatsoever. Bands like Exodus and Vio-lence seem to be the main influences here. Lich King even throw in some cool covers of these bands. What really impressed me about Lich King is their ability to stick true to the 80s roots while actually sounding entirely fresh. This is a rare feat.

The riffs have a very heavy sense of crunch similar to Demolition Hammer’s Epidemic of Violence. This makes them very easy to headbang to and I even had to turn my subwoofer down in order to hear the riffs properly over the pounding bass. Lich King mix up their riffs pretty well and thankfully don’t feel overly repetitive and monotonous like many bands end up falling victim to. Numerous breaks are included with Reavers being the best example of this. Certainly one of the best thrash tracks in the last 15 years.

The vocals are also something to marvel at. The vocalist doesn’t sound like he is trying to hard to emulate his favorite thrash vocalist or just fit into the rest of the bands. He possesses that something extra and really gives it his all on this release with his punkish shouts. The vocalist is also backed by some gang vocals that are just as exuberant as he is.

In terms of production, the band fucking nailed it dead on. Thrash bands are finding themselves on big name labels now but the problem with this is that I have heard on more than one occasion an album that could have been killer actually brought down a fair bit due to the production sounding to polished, taking away from that aggression that is so necessary for this kind of thrash metal. The whole production on Necromantic Maelstrom sounds razor sharp, gritty yet clear and has pounding bass. This is exactly how this kind of thrash should sound.

For the future I would like to see a greater addition of solos. They certainly show some real shines with this, especially midway through Thrashssacre. I really can’t think of anything else to nitpick at here as this one of the finest packages of thrash metal, a quality that has hardly been seen since the early 90s.

I recommend this band for any fans of Vio-lence, Evil Dead, early Exodus and the likes.