Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Album of the Week - Lair of the Minotaur "War Metal Battle Master"

by Wayne Graham

On all of the promo materials for Lair of the Minotaur’s punishing new album War Metal Battle Master, they describe the release as “A concept album about solving conflicts with a big fucking axe.” Yyyyyyyyyyeahh that pretty much says more about what this record sounds like than anything that we’re going to tell you. WMBM is an extremely heavy record—both in terms of the club-over-the-head riffs as well as the dense sonic weight of the production (by Minsk’s Sanford Parker, with Pig Destroyer’s Scott Hull in charge of mastering).
With WMBM, Lair have perfected the art of distilling all the great elements of so many of metal’s subgenres, stripping away the problem spots that can cause those subgenres to falter or misstep, and to fuse the good stuff together into a cohesive, consistent wallop. There are blasting, growling death metal moments that grow out of riffs, as opposed to just providing a Look-Ma-No-Hands workout to attract love from the drum & guitar clinic crowd. The record has great martial-styled blast beats and throat shredding screeches that the best of Black Metal can offer, but without the theatrics or thin production. (One could go on all day about how fucking epic this thing sounds. Parker has really outdone himself on this one). Going on to fuse the dirty, sweaty riff n’ roll of High on Fire and Motorhead, the old-school darkness of Venom and Celtic Frost, and the gallop of 80’s Bay Area Thrash (especially early Slayer), the guys in Lair of the Minotaur are clearly lovers of metal in all its forms, but instead of skipping from genre to genre like so many prog know-it-alls, Lair have torn through what metal has done well before, pillaged what they need, and left the rest to burn in Hell. The songs are played with a pronounced bottom end that runs circles around what most doom metal outfits are doing these days, but the punch and focus of the arrangements keep everything moving at a nice clip. Each of the band’s members---Donald James Barraca on bass, Steven Rathbone on vox and guitar, and Chris Wozniak on drums—are all distinctive on their instruments, but they’re most impressive in how they lock in as a unit to fill as much sonic space with as much Heavy as possible.
So, yeah, what they said…….Big Fucking Axe.
The album is out today courtesy of Southern Lord Recordings. Wear a helmet.
Lair of the Minotaur on MySpace [link]

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