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A Wake-up Call for the Dormant Thrash Metal Spirit - 95%

bayern, November 24th, 2016

It’s beyond me why this effort is listed as a demo in the band’s discography: it comes with a very good sound quality, it’s nearly an hour long, and it easily beats any of the guys’ full-length releases in terms of execution and musicianship. The only reason I could think of is the stylistic difference between it and the rest of the pack. So Lyzanxia were founded by the brothers David and Franck Potvin after their first band Overload split up. A short demo recorded in 1996 launched them on the scene also paving the way for the fine work done on the “Lullaby” reviewed here. The style on those demos is classic thrash with a hefty Megadeth influence both in the music and the vocal department.

There’s no intensity spared on the edgy opener “Trepan” which crushes forward in a convincing Bay-Areasque fashion. The furiously titled follower “Hurricane” is actually a classic thrasher in the best spirit of mid-period Megadeth, a song which could have been a highlight on “Countdown to Extinction”. “You Don’t Deserve a Name” carries on in the same way adding a great chorus and catchy infectious riffs which could have easily enchanted Dave Mustaine; the man was by no means aware of this effort’s existence, otherwise he would have claimed these two brothers here to join his band rather than the Drover pair from Eidolon. “Loving Fear” stays faithful to the chosen mid-paced thrashisms elaborating the picture with more intricate, semi-technical guitar work and a few choppier, jumpier rhythms. “Manhunt” is a direct speedster without any gimmicks followed by the more pensive, heavy stomper “Rip My Skin” which also speeds up in the second half to produce another portion of vitriolic headbanging riffs.

Then comes the highlight, “Totem”, one of the greatest ballads in metal history, a deeply emotional and atmospheric composition, with great guitars and a fine chorus which make it instantly memorable. For this song alone this album is worth tracking down. The guys soldier on with the fast-paced cuts “The Slave Race” and “Prisoner” before “Lucrece Borgia” enters with slower, more thoughtful rhythms, a very cool progressive semi-balladic piece with a few speedier passages and interesting riff-patterns. The closing “Recession” can only be an afterthought following this masterpiece, but the band have done a good job here to make it a fine proto-galloper with dramatic accumulations in the middle, and a faster exit.

This effort sounded even more relevant than the Megadeth works at that time since the Americans had adopted a more radio-friendly power metal sound, leaving their thrashy roots behind. I guess quite a few of their fans would have been delighted to join the Lyzanxia camp after the awful “Risk” if they had known about this work here. Besides, thrash metal had started to show signs of waking up from its prolonged snooze in the late-90’s, and the Frenchmen couldn’t have chosen a better time to strike, and provide the needed competition to their compatriots No Return and Loudblast. With Dave Mustaine and Co. falling from risk… sorry, grace the metal fraternity was ready to embrace the new heroes…

Well, some very serious thinking must have taken place within the band’s camp before the release of the follow-up “Eden”. I don’t know, Mustaine may have called them asking them to tone it down a bit if possible… he may have not wanted to fall into obscurity because of the emergence of this talented French outfit. This could be one of the reasons for the radical change of style witnessed. In other words, the listener would be quite surprised, possibly shocked, to hear standard modern thrash modeled after the Gothenburg canons with both more aggressive deathy and more technical “excursions”. There are almost no traces of the previous classic rifforamas, the production is much more modern, and the vocals are semi-shouty proto-death metal ones, the furthest possible departure from those warm, mean-ish clean croons appreciated earlier. The hopes were for an isolated tribute to the Swedish school before a return to the good old school thrash… Yes, but no; three more full-lengths followed the delivery exactly the same, modern orthodox thrash with a few more laid-back moments, not the most relevant style considering the tsunami of retro thrash practitioners who flooded the scene in the new millennium.

In 2008 it became obvious where the guys’ heart has remained after all, with the release of the “Recalling Lullaby” EP which contained four tracks from this eponymous work, certainly slightly modified to fit the band’s new image and style. Alas, the hopes for the return to that album’s delivery were quickly eradicated with the fourth installment, “Locust”, which followed the same modern path unerringly. Six years later the band are still preparing for a new strike; I guess the veto imposed on their magnum opus by Mustaine must have expired so a sequel to “Lullaby” seems the most logical continuation of their career. My daughter has been having troubles falling asleep at night recently; I will be watching out for prospective pacifying tunes, especially for those coming from France.