Lich King - Born of the Bomb
Stormspell Records
Thrash Metal
10 songs (50:04)
Release year: 2012
Lich King, Stormspell Records
Reviewed by Bar
Surprise of the month

Holy cow, this album must be the Thrash surprise of the year. Is this even same band that put out such insipid crap as Necromantic Maelstrom and Toxic Zombie Onslaught? A couple of line-up changes notwithstanding, I’m amazed to say that yes, this is the same core band! To say they’ve come a long way from those less-than-stellar attempts is a pretty big understatement. These guys have really done themselves proud with this release, having addressed the two key concerns with their early material – unoriginal riffs and terrible production. It’s not a complete overhaul of their sound nor an abandonment of their childish sense of humour, which remains intact. Rather, the difference is an evident professionalism with regards to both song writing and recording, which is not something that could be said for any of their previous releases.

As soon as instrumental intro All Hail gets anywhere near your ears, you immediately know this album sounds several times better than any preceding Lich King disc. It’s a full bodied sound, with plenty of low-end and plenty of crunch, that sounds clear and crisp but never strays into “polished” sounding territory. Off to a good start. First track proper, We Came to Conquer, honestly feels like this band finally delivering on an old promise. Lich King claim that (and I quote), “We think the sound of thrash was perfected in the 80s and we’re not trying to add anything to the mix. We’re just coming up with riffs and songs that the old masters didn’t.” While previous songs didn’t deliver and felt more like like lifted riffs and rearranged songs, We Came to Conquer feels convincingly like a song Exodus could have written in the mid-80s, but didn’t. The lovingly crafted riffs on this track are by turns aggressive, catchy, and very moshable without ever once making me wonder where I’d heard them before. As the song progresses through a few distinct phases, it becomes clear these guys have also learned a lot about how to pen well-structured, entertaining songs. Immediately following is another highlight, Wage Slave. This is in a different style completely, much faster and more intricate, calling to mind the approach of Vio-Lence, and it has a downright impressive instrumental section that is both brutal and melodic. These guys have really been practicing their guitars!

Also evident is a degree of ambition in the song writing that eclipses anything they’ve attempted before. This album features two tracks that could genuinely be referred to as epics, and each one is quite distinct from the other. The nearly 9-minute Agnosticism is a slow burn, with a relatively down-tempo, stomping riff, and the whole track is highlighted by an excellent, drawn-out instrumental mid-section brimming with guitar pyrotechnics. It’s inspired by 80s Metallica, but it’s very well done. Closing track Lich King IV (Born of the Bomb) almost reaches 8 minutes, and is a decidedly different beast. It’s a complex barrage of lightning fast riffs that barely lets up. I’d even go as far as to say I hear shades of Time Does Not Heal era Dark Angel in there. Undoubtedly the most complex track this band has ever attempted, and once again, the skill displayed on guitar is light years ahead of what I had expected from them.

There’s a lot that I’m excited about but the album is far from perfect. There’s undeniable filler material in there, and the cover of Agents of Steel is very well performed but a little unnecessary. Tom Martin’s vocals, while improved, are still a sore point. He’s too one note. At the end of the day these guys are still not in the same league as the likes of Havok or Hexen, but this is a really respectable release. I’d be glad to have several songs from this album turn up in my rotation, and there’s a few I’ve been listening to a hell of a lot lately. On the strength of this album, Lich King have genuinely become an act worth paying attention to, and considering where they’ve come from, that’s no small feat.

Killing Songs :
We Came to Conquer, Wage Slave, Combat Mosh, Lich King IV (Born of the Bomb)
Bar quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Lich King that we have reviewed:
Lich King - Toxic Zombie Onslaught reviewed by Jerrol and quoted 81 / 100
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