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Bow to the Lich King, peasants - 92%

SouthofHeaven11, December 8th, 2008

“For the Lich King is fierce…and he…is wicked…awesome!”

And thus begins “Toxic Zombie Onslaught”, Lich King’s second full-length. Building upon the success of “Necromantic Maelstorm”, Lich King continues to tread down the path of absurd, neck-breaking thrash with seemingly no care to whom they might rub the wrong way. The band has a hilarious habit of posting bulletins on their favorite forums and MySpace that contain posters proclaiming (in a sarcastic yet ever-so serious manner) themselves to be the greatest thrash band the world has ever known, and that Jeff Hanneman quit playing guitar after listening to just one Lich King song and picked up a job at STAPLES.

Oh, and then they have Thrash Baby, whose name they now trademark. It’s a baby who loves thrash metal. He’s pretty cool.

“Toxic Zombie Onslaught” doesn’t really do anything really different from “Necromantic Maelstorm”; instead, Lich King just tightens up their act and produces a much more rounded album. The opener, “Attack Of The Wrath Of The War Of The Death Of The Strike Of The Sword Of The Blood Of The Beast”, sets the standard for the rest of album, as its drenched in juicy Bay Area thrash riffs that touch upon the greatness put down by albums such as “Bonded by Blood”. There’s speed, there’s ferocicity, but most importantly, there’s thrash. Palm mutes, strained screams, and a thumping bass drum keep the song going, not to mention it also displays Lich King’s ridiculous sense of humor within the first minute. The song features lines such as “He's got chainsaws and bombs and an axe, and some unfiltered cigarettes too”, as they tell of how the Beast is going to unleash “all of the violent shit he has planned”.

The best thing is that the rest of the album keeps right in line. The title track and “Thrash Resurgence” are sure neck snappers, with the latter featuring an oddly catchy chorus due to Fucking Tyrannosaur’s vocals (yes, they still have that name listed as their vocalist), which seemingly reflect the crunching riffs projected with lethal precision. Both “Predator” and “Office Politics” are nods to films, since according to a forum post by one of the Lich King members, they felt left out due to bands like Evile writing songs about movies (Evile wrote “First Blood”, which was about Rambo). The songs seem to fit the movies as well, with “Predator” (obviously named after the movie with the alien hunter and Arnold) being more straightforward and barbaric in manner, while “Office Politics” (named off of “Office Space”) comes off as a bit more technical and riff-constructed. The closer, and also the continuation of the original “Lich King” song (aptly titled “Lich King II” here) off “Necromantic Maelstorm”, is epic in its own nature. Starting off with slow, gathering riffs, it quickly blitzes straight into an onslaught of guitar and drums, with vocals that shriek throughout the Lich King’s domain.

There’s been a few songs in musical history that started off as filler, but reached famous status upon the album release (“Paranoid”, by Black Sabbath for instance). In the case of “Toxic Zombie Onslaught”, that’s “Black Metal Sucks”. The whole song is as simple as a song could be, and is the only track off the album not to feature a solo…but that doesn’t even matter. “Black Metal Sucks” is a hilarious romp as Lich King rattles off everything that they hate about the stereotyped genre. Take the first half of the lyrics, for example:

“Over there in Norway, the churches all burn down
Let's go dress in goth clothes and get painted like a clown
Awesome leather armbands with spikes like two feet long
Hair is parted down the middle, frowning like a frog

In league with the devil, talking Satan, skulls and hell
Making mommy mad, cause that's original
If you hate good music, then it can't hurt to go
Image-conscious assholes, black metal fashion show”

The last line of the song indicates that “Black Metal Sucks” was written as quickly as possible (for pure amusement probably) since it goes “ Running out of rhymes, so wading pool. Thrash is the rule!”

There isn’t anything really wrong with “Toxic Zombie Onslaught”. Sure, the volume level might be a little bit low, but that’s what speaker knobs are for. The only thing that really holds this album back from greatness is that it’s just not going to re-write the books on thrash metal. “Toxic Zombie Onslaught” is by the numbers, but don’t take that the wrong way; this album rips. From start to finish, there is nothing here but high-quality thrash that will leave you not only head-banging, but laughing as well.

Bow to the Lich King, peasants.