on April 18, 2013
It doesn't take the listener long when listening to Lair Of The Minotaur's second full-length album to realize that this is another installment in the post-High On Fire sludge/doom metal wave that has become quite the craze in the twenty-first century. But the one difference that distinguishes LOTM from the hoard of imitators is the fact that they are much heavier than, say, High On Fire and/or The Sword, and boast much bigger and more dominating guitar chops. In fact, these three Chicago, Illinois naties are more-or-less an amalgam of all things extreme and brutal. Thus, 2006'S aptly-entitled "The Ultimate Destroyer" is first and foremost a sludge/doom metal record, but it fuses in strong thrash and speed metal influences, as well as death and black metal. Furthermore, you will also hear traces of melodeath, groove metal, hardcore, and even grindcore.
As hinted at above, it is, without question, the guitars that dominate the maelstrom, here. But the other instruments are nothing to sneeze at, either. The bass forms a wall of gluey, dissonant sludge behind the guitars and visceral vocals; and the drums may stay at a largely mid-tempo pace (steadily beating the listener) over the course of this release, but the occasional blast beat can be heard in the mix every now and then. On the whole, "The Ultimate Destroyer" falls at some point between the aforementioned High On Fire (and, subsequently, Black Sabbath and Motohead), Slayer, Sepultura, At The Gates, Celtic Frost, Kreator, Venom, Gojira/Mastodon, and Morbid Angel.
"Juggernaut Of Metal" is a slow-burning brooder highlighted by a great crescendo. It builds gradually and steadily until it not-so-suddenly climaxes with a fiery chug and churn riff. This song also has occasional, brutal, black metal-derived shrieks and near Dragonforce-esque lyricism, thus helping to cement its status as one strong and commanding set opener. "Behead The Gorgon" begins by churning out really hefty licks while the bass grumbles along in the back of the mix, and the drummer uncorks deft, pounding fills. And around ninety-seconds into things, the song changes abruptly, dramatically picking up a bunch of speed and heaviness. So, on the whole, "Behead The Gorgon" has a purely doomy intro, but the rest of it is very blistering and thrashy. And the title cut more-or-less picks up with all of the momentum that the latter-half of its predecessor had in that it piles riffage on top of massive, memorable riffage, to create a true steamroller of a song. "Horror," then, more-or-less plays like a piece of straight thrash, with its crunching guitars that might be blazing fast, but they never lose sight of their central groove. And a strong, humming bass bottom is also heard, here.
The album's centerpiece, "Grisly Hound Of The Pit," is a monster of a song driven by ferocious chainsaw riffing and a tempo that just plain blazes out of your speakers. All told, it is a really bludgeoning, uncompromising, and blood-thirsty number, and one that makes the listener not even have a chance at standing upright when hearing it. "Cannibal Massacre" is a strong follow-up, though, as frontman Steven Rathbone's near hardcore-ish bark spins tales of fictitious creatures that like eating human flesh. The tune also has more great, drop-tuned guitar picking, as well as a noteworthy, adherent bass groove, and pounding, slamming skins. Indeed, the music shreds your speakers to little bits, but the use of weird, Cannibal Corpse-ish vocals (in addition to CC-worthy lyrics and song title) cannot go unmentioned, either. "Lord Of Butchery" is a one minute-long bludgeon, a complete aural holocaust on the listener's eardrums that careens wildly out of control with thunderous rhythms. The succeeding "Engorged With Unborn Gore" works differently, though, building from a brisk yet still relatively/comparatively mid-tempo chug to furious territory with blistering buzzsaw guitar leads. Lastly, "The Hydra Coils Upon The Wicked Mountain" rains it in a little bit, easing off the gas a tad, but never relenting any of its heaviness. Indeed, its thick, darkly pounding, feedback-soaked pure doom riffs rock mighty hard. But the track's viciously violent lyrics are of note, too.
"The Ultimate Destroyer" is absolutely a ruthlessly brutal, blistering, and uncompromising affair that should satisfy just about all metalheads the world over. Therefore, if you are one, then Lair Of The Minotaur ought to be considered a must hear.