Recorded January 2010 at Semaphore Studios in Chicago, Illinois by Sanford Parker. Mixed by Sanford Parker and Steve Rathbone / Mastered by Scott Hull (from Pig Destroyer). Released on 13 April 2010 on The Grind-House Records.
My intention had been to review Halifax’s finest doom metal band Paradise Lost’s 2007 album In Requiem. But then I started to listen to this, Lair of the Minotaur‘s fourth full-length album Evil Power and all that changed.
I really like this album.
It reminds me in equal parts of early and late Celtic Frost, early Slayer, sludge/stoner metal champions Down and, rock legends Motörhead, and Dutch death metal band Gorefest. It also has that raw, exciting NWOBHM feel to it; if this had come out in 1981 then I’m certain this would have become a classic, like Iron Maiden’s debut album. I’m sure there are a million other influences in there but those are the five that I immediately relate to. Everything is a remix, huh!
LOTM’s sound is thick, loose, bassy and wonderfully heavy; vocals are gruff and throaty but clear.If ever there was a band who could be described as “doom thrash” then this is it. Oh, and more than a few war lyrics thrown in for good measure. But it doesn’t sound cheesy or contrived.
The album opens with, I presume, vocalist Steve Rathbone saying, “The Grind-House Records, January sixteenth two-thousand ten” before a guitar feeds back, the bass drum pounds into action and… RIFF!
Opening track “Attack the Gods” kicks off the album in the right direction and it doesn’t let up for the next 30 minutes and 28 seconds. Simple (but not simplistic) riffs twisting and turning, offering grooves and riffs, power and melody.
The vocals on “Let’s Kill These Motherfuckers” are the most like Tom G Warrior’s that I have ever heard, without sounding like he’s trying to emulate the Celtic Frost / Triptycon frontman. Of course, the riff helps too, sounding like it’s channeled through TGW’s trademark vacuum-cleaner emulator pedal!
“Riders of Skullhammer, We Right The Night” has a riff that bounces along the road to hell, a riff that I’m sure Lemmy is disappointed is already taken. That said, it also carries the feel of something from Slayer’s second album Hell Awaits.
The introduction to track 9 “We are Hades” certainly sounds most like something out of Lemmy’s back catalogue as the band as a whole chants a throaty “We are violence / We are decay / We are a plague of death / We are the end of days”.
Maybe their next album could open with “We are Lair of the Minotaur and we play rock ‘n’ roll!”
This is one heavy album, without going over the top about it. It certainly doesn’t feel contrived. Title track “Evil Power” opens with a wall of bass white noise before the guitars and drums join in with a riff that reminds of something from Gorefest’s last album Rise to Ruin.
And so the album continues with one heavy riff after the next. Every track is distinct. Every track has its own feel, its own nuances, its own twisted secrets. This isn’t an album where every song sounds the same. It sounds coherent.
This is a solid album. According to my Last.fm chart this is the artist I’ve played more than any other this month. 97 listens compared with 10 for Opeth, and I’ve already said on Twitter that if I had to listen to only one artist for the rest of my life it would be Opeth.
I love this album, and for me sits alongside Gorefest’s Rise to Ruin (2007) as a modern heavy metal classic.
I’m looking forward to their next offering. Their website says that LOTM are currently taking a break while Steve Rathbone “finishes getting his nerdy degree” but they will be back soon and are already working on “new battle hymns”. I can’t wait.
Review score: 95%