Thursday, October 4, 2012

Born of the Bomb - Lich King - 2012

Born of the Bomb is as big as its name. Thrash revivalists/purists (I here on out dub 'em Frashcists) Lich King, already over the top, have, either by accident or design, crafted more than a monster - it may actually be something mature. A recent convert to the realm of Lich King, they were immediately easy to like, with three proper full-lengths progressing in excellence from 2007 to 2010, whose World Gone Dead sucked me in to an immediate "gotta grab it all" acquisition of the band's catalogue. "Fun" is an overused term for take-it-serious justification of less-than-serious subject matter but Lich King fit the bill. I'll wager that there are thousands upon thousands out there for whom Lich King's music feels custom-made. A DNA of stellar old-school thrash lies at the core of an unholy corpse acting as a conduit for influences ranging from George R.R. Martin to Paul Verhoeven, sprinkling in an overall love of the undead and post-apocalyptic chaos, and it all speaks directly to this born-in-the-70s-raised-on-Troma-and-Cannon-films metal fan. "Fun" is also, unfortunately, synonymous with "easily dismissed" and an act like Lich King, at this rate dead-seriously outpacing Anthrax's comparable evolution, ends up criminally underknown and dangerously underestimated.

Born of the Bomb impresses immediately with "We Came to Conquer" an instant favorite. Vocals come across as more desperate and with a much greater degree of character than the previous records' nearly-spoken approaches. The production is rich and easily the best this far in the band's progression with every instrument intertwined into a massively heavy tapestry whose individual strands remain easily identifiable as a portion of the greater whole. Riffs throughout never feel recycled and, while still not deadly serious by any stretch of the imagination, Born of the Bomb never feels too silly, either.

It's "In the End, Devastation," though, that leaves "fun" feeling frivolous and forgotten and lays Born of the Bomb near the top of the 2012 stack. I'm hoping the law investigates whether or not Conrad Murray was involved in the song's composition as the lick that emerges from the menace at 2:51 is absolutely, alarmingly musically sick. "Wage Slave" caught me off guard with a soulful solo, leaving me be devastated, then, by "Agnosticism," displaying a dynamic range heretofore unheard in the band's oeuvre with leads ranging from the subdued and sublime to outright searing (just check out the six-minute mark of this eight-plus epic).

Something scary is happening here. What was seemingly simple(r) still remains at the core, with its feet shuffling faster, frame growing larger, edges all sharper. Born of the Bomb has a fusion at the heart of its fallout, bridging the gap between classic influences such as Slayer and the band's own blueprint and, while recalling early embryonic elements, ultimately forges something finer. Lich King ain't the same. It's mutating. It's getting stronger. It's getting smarter. It's getting bigger. It just keeps getting better.


  1. Getting better with every album. Been listening since the early myspace days and its been great to listen these guys grow. After first listening to Necro, its awesome to hear an album like BOTB come from this band. All 'fun' aside, It is truly a great thrash album.

    1. Amen. Fun is always good but this, this is just good. Thanks for reading!