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.