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B+ - 88%

Lyrici17, April 26th, 2009

I'd like to start off my review by just pointing out where this review is coming from. I'm not a big thrash guy. I don't dislike thrash - not at all. However, it probably is my least favorite metal genre. Why? I'm not sure really. Just like I'm not sure how black metal became [probably] my favorite metal genre. A look at my thrash collection is minimal - embarrassing. I have the standards, all the early Metallica records (“Metallica” and before ), Megadeth (everything except for “Risk”, “The System Has Failed”, and “United Abominations” - though I mostly listen to “Rust and Peace” and before - and really, mostly “Rust and Peace”), two slayer records (“Reign in Blood” and “Undisputed Attitude”) - then just a couple of things here and there; check out my collection if you really care. Point being, since thrash isn't my favorite genre I haven't really listened to a lot of it - and in fact therein my lie my reason why. So remember, this is the opinion of metalhead who isn't a true thrash metal warrior. AND, this is the opinion of a metalhead who isn't offended by this new horde of thrash revivalist bands, mostly because I'm not listening to any of it.

That being said, do you want to know what this record sounds like to me? Well, to me, it sounds like Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman, Kirk Hammett, and Lars Ulrich got together between 1984-1986 and threw down some tracks and this is the lost archive of that meeting. The riffs are so Jeff Hanneman, especially “Reign in Blood” era - hand-banging, aggressive, and catchy chugs. The vocals remind me of Tom Araya, forceful throaty yells (I didn't really consider the bass when making this super group - and that’s fine). Some of the solos sound like they are ripped straight from “Ride the Lightning” (1:45 in “I Destroy”, 3:17 and after on “Cold Steel Machine”). As for the drums, they are mostly competent, but ultimately pretty sterile. Then again, are thrash drummers really supposed to stand out? I don't have an answer for this.

Seriously though, this record reminds me so of these two bands, around those years. I would suppose that is exactly what Lich King is going for. I could see how some people could dislike a band for trying to sound a certain way, when that way is twenty years old. I, for one, could give a rat’s ass. To me, it sounds good and that’s all I really care about. I like “Ride the Lightning”; I like “Reign in Blood”. Why would I dislike a record that reminds me of both of them? I have no idea, and that’s why I don't.

I feel the need to discuss lyrics briefly, only because it seems to be one of the problems that people most dislike about this record, and most of the recent thrash resurgence bands. Like I said earlier, I don't listen to a lot of these band, so I'm not so saturated with its themes of zombies, sharks, partying, pizza, beer, and killing posers (most of these I have never been exposed to at all- in fact, they may be exaggerations and I don't even realize it). Also, generally speaking, I don't even pay attention to lyrics. Basically, the lyrics present on this album don't even matter to me, so they couldn't impact me negatively. To be honest there’s only four sections of lyrics that I remember, and they're all choruses. The chorus in “Attack of the Wrath of the War of the Death of the Strike of the Sword of the Blood of the Beast” is memorable to me because it does that choppy chug along with each word on the title. I think a lot of people think Lich King are stupid for making a song title ridiculously long just for the sake of it being long. I can understand that, however because of that long song title, the chorus in the song was more enjoyable for me. The chorus in “Black Metal Sucks” is probably the most memorable because it’s catchy and humorous. Sure, I like black metal a lot, but that doesn't mean I can't handle people making fun of it (though I will admit that Lich King’s attempt at playing the genre at the end of the song wasn't very enjoyable, or good). The chorus in “Lich King II” where the vocals belt out “All Hail the Lich King” was also memorable, mostly because it’s the only time the vocals get that low on the whole album (not that the vocals are necessarily low; they're just lower). Huh, did I say four sections? I guess it’s actually just three. Point being, this review is pretty much based solely on its sonic qualities.

“Toxic Zombie Onslaught” has what I enjoy most about thrash: catchy riffs and aggressive solos. The opener, the previously mentioned “Attack of the Wrath of the War of the Death of the Strike of the Sword of the Blood of the Beast”, is a perfect example, as I find every single riff in the song to be enjoyable. Most employ the really fast chug, with a tiny change up at the end style. These riffs get my head boppin’. 1:23, in particular, really gets my head moving. The solo itself isn't my favorite on the album, but it’s still very good. The riffs at :29 in “Thrash Resurgence”, :2:10 in “Cold Steel Machine”, and 3:26 in “Lich King II” are also favorites of mine. The solos at 1:45 in “I Destroy”, at 2:39 in “Cold Steel Machine”, and both solos that end “Toxic Zombie Onslaught” are probably my favorite. All of the music is just relentless, blazing, and in your face.

I think this review may be unpopular with thrash metal fans (maybe it won't; I really don't know). I guess that’s why I opened this piece by stating that I'm not really a thrash metal fan - I like it, but I don't wave it’s flag (at least not very high). However, I am a fan of “Toxic Zombie Onslaught”, it is through and through a fun album. It isn't the best album ever, but I don't think it wants to be. Plus it uses a sample from “Office Space”; I don't think I even need to say anything else.