…what is the meaning of that name? Lich comes from old English and means an undead corpse. It has appeared in old books and the Lich King
is also a figure in modern role playing games. Their website states that they are the “best damned thrash metal band in the world”. Last spring they played over twenty shows across mainland Europe
. All of their albums feature vivid paintings with a crowned skeleton figure, who is obviously their mascot. Their twenty ten release, World Gone Dead
, thrashed out pretty good. It came across like a hybrid of classic East coast cross over and classic West coast thrash. Then their twenty twelve album, Born of the Bomb
, was probably their best offering yet. It was supercharged with vicious thrash assaults, played at full throttle with a brutal intensity. Five years and two lineup changes later, they have released The Omniclasm
. At first sight, the artwork looks like the lich king has a guitar strapped on his body. But a closer examination shows that he has been stabbed with a glowing cosmic sword. The album was recorded on an independent label, so physical copies are hard to acquire.
The new vocalist, Ryan Taylor, recently joined Lich King
in twenty fifteen. He has been a vocalist and also a guitarist for various thrash bands in the Miami area. As a baritone he shouts and throatily screams out his lyrics in a slightly hoarse delivery, with a commanding authority. His lines are uttered with hurriedness to accommodate the high velocity of the instrumentation. The backup vocalists shout out key phrases from time to time, in the typical style of cross over bands. The second song is entitled Lich King
V: The Stalemate. It abruptly starts with ferocious shredding and a maniacal scream. The drums are pounded hard with intervals of blast beats. A high note guitar melody soon rips forward at full speed, then it switches to a choppy thrash rhythm. The lyrics are angrily yelled out with background chants coming and going. “And
in time, the shell of the earth, continues to rattle with war.” “Dead
world under a dead sky, nothing here worth fighting for.” The guitarists shred discordant riffs at an extraordinary velocity. Then soon there is a punk core oriented melody, which ascends with vicious guitar riffs and descends with a devastating bass blow. “The corpse lord, the lich king, grows weary at the last of the game.” “Grasps the nature of stalemate, victory cannot be claimed.”
The fourth track, Cut the Shit
, runs with a hard hitting punkcore groove that’s adapted to high octane thrash. The guitar riffs brutally shift the course, as the heavy bass notes bounce up and down, with a moshing impact. Then some pure thrash riffs impose their way in, the drums are pounded in cadence and display some brief blast beats. The vocalist quickly shouts out the lyrics. “Metal
’s got a lot of problems, people who enforce the dress code.” “Stop with that shit!” “Stop with that shit!” The texture resembles late eighties/early nineties era Overkill
and Nuclear Assault
. But it is played faster and harder than those prototypes. The band features two guitarists and they have been playing with Lich King
for a while. There is an abundance of incredible thrashing, shredding and grinding. They are obviously highly skilled guitarists and masters of the fret boards. Their riff shifting seems to have no limits of speed and string articulation.
The new bassist, Mike Dreher, is twenty five years of age and from New Jersey. He performed on two studio albums for Conditional critical and joined Lich King
in twenty fifteen. The bass notes are often forced hard and very actively. It adds depth to all of these compositions and provides extra thrust in the cross over rhythms. There is fast bass plucking during the extremely accelerated stretches of shredding. But in some structures, he performs opposite the lead guitarist, with powerful bass lines. The seventh number, Take the Paycheck, begins with a whirling guitar riff that spins like a cyclone. Fast shredding with awesome fret board work is complemented by hyperactive drum beats and thunderous bass movements. Then the tide changes with a vicious thrash assault at an incredible speed. The vocalist hastily hollers out his lines to suit this swift tempo. “Once
upon a time in the eighties, metal bands worked hard to turn out albums that were good.” “Nowadays most aren’t worth a damn, no one cares, it’s understood.” About halfway in the tempo accelerates even faster with an unbelievable grinding intensity. “Elder
statesmen of metal, where is the speed, where are the riffs? “Doesn’t it say in your contract, that you can’t coast on prior success, from when you gave a shit.”
The ninth song, Offense
, starts with a catchy thrash hook, which alters in complexity after every couple of successions. Then it charges forth at a faster time change, with an ugly and harsh rhythmic flow. The lyrics are yelled out with a wrathful disposition. “The dawn of an age of change, an emerging of human truth.” “Against fear and hate, with a slowly awakening youth.” The thrash hook evolves into a heavier and more severe series of riff shifting. The bassist lashes back with dynamic power chords, as the drummer pounds hard at a relentless velocity. Towards the end, there is an incredible throw down of incendiary guitar solos. Drummer Brian Westbrook has been with the band since two thousand four and is a founding member. The drums are played with hyperactive movements, using lots of cymbal crashes. Drum rolls and snare drum flare ups abound, within these vigorous compositions. There are many beat tone variations, but the stringed instruments are king on this album. So the drummer hustles out a highly concussive role, contributing an emphatic punch.
Some of the songs groove with fast punkcore styled rhythms, like eighties era thrash bands from New York
. However, they perform their material using up to date presentations, with the ferocity that today’s thrash fans are looking for. The grinding schemes sound similar in a couple of the earlier tracks. But they take it to the top level of intensity. I wouldn’t have known that there is a new vocalist and bassist, without reading about it. They both sound much the same as the previous performers. The new vocalist works well with this overly aggressive thrash attack. But he is more of a yeller than a singer and it wasn’t meant to sound pretty. The new bassist is very quick and active. Although the guitarists dominate these compositions with their hyperactive thrashing, shredding and grinding. Their previous installment, Born of the Bomb
, was a tough album to match and they managed to top it by a notch. The Omniclasm
is a more consistent thrasher than anything in the Lich King
catalog and stands tall against any of the contemporary thrash releases. It’s their best album yet and is a modern thrashterpiece.