Lair Of The Minotaur
War Metal Battle Master
5/30/2009 - Review by: David Loveless
When the opportunity arose for me to review the latest Lair of the Minotaur release, the thing that drew me in the most was that they are a part of Southern Lord Recordings. With their massive catalog of some of the heaviest material ever recorded, Southern Lord has quickly become one of my top 3 favorite record companies. Having never heard Lair Of The Minotaur before, I knew I was in for a treat of some of the heaviest metal around. However, what I did not know was that LOTM is an extremely aggressive thrash metal band, leading to a new metal sub-genre known as Aggro-Thrash. Imagine if the thunderous sounds of Neurosis, the manic riffs of early Celtic Frost & Voivod, and the intensity of Goatwhore collided into a massive wall of sound. What you would come up with is the third album by LOTM--War Metal Battle Master. I don't know how I let this one slip by me in 2008, otherwise it would have been in my top 5 list of metal albums for that year.
Wasting no time, Lord of Undead Vengeance is a relentless track of brutal riffs, pounding drums and sick vocals. Next comes War Metal Battle Master with a very thick sound and blackened death style vocals. Continuing the mayhem, When The Ice Giants Slayed All starts off with a crust core-like intro which eventually shapes into a South of Heaven-era Slayer guitar riff. Although at a slower pace than the previous tracks, it is no less intense and brutal. The next song, Slaughter the Bestial Legion, has a classic 80's thrash attack sound with more sick vokills. The next song, Black Viper Barbarian Clan, could probably have Fenriz & Nocturno Culto (of Darkthrone) thrashing around violently in their recording studio. One of the fastest tracks on the CD, it shows a good mix of Black Metal and Sludge Metal in just a little over 3 minutes. Assassins Of The Cursed Mist sounds like it could be off of a Kreator album. Doomtrooper, at just under 10 minutes, is an epic track of brutal, doom-like riffs that would make the members of Crowbar jealous (for not coming up with them first), and extremely sick (and low key) death metal vocals. Homage to Celtic Frost can easily be heard in this song. The final song, Hades Unleashed, is one of the fastest and heaviest songs on the album. With Deicide-like riffs and headache-intense drumming, Hades Unleashed completes the statement that Lair Of The Minotaur successfully achieved on this album--creating a crushingly aggressive thrash metal album that will not be easily forgotten.
Southern Lord continue to push the boundaries of extreme music by releasing some of the most intense albums ever made. Lair of the Minotaur definitely makes sure of that with their epic metal masterpiece, War Metal Battle Master. Whether you're a fan of Southern Lord Recordings or not, War Metal Battle Master is an album that can be enjoyed by fans of genres of metal. I can only imagine what these guys are like live. If it is anything like their studio releases, no one is safe! Check them out now!
7/25/2008 - Review by: Raising Iron
Lair of the Minotaur are back with their third full-frontal attack, "War Metal Battle Master". Hailing and hollering from Chicago, these boys have willingly and gladly sat right down on the blood-drenched, thrash-blackened throne that Usurper have left vacant. This is good, for metal needs these kinds of underground bands, who take up residence off metal's beaten trails, waiting for those adventurers daring enough to veer off into the darkened forests in search of more vicious, bestial encounters.
For those of you unfamiliar with Lair of the Minotaur's sound, their concoction consists of raw meat from Slayer's old stable, veggies out of Celtic Frost's garden, charred hors d'oeuvres ala Venom, and salt and pepper off Black Sabbath's shelf. This is the kind of sustenance one needs to battle hordes of undead, go hilt to hilt with orcs, and slay serpents on the keep of the borderlands. On the very first track, our warriors come barreling down the mountainside with a ton of soiled riffs in tow, never relenting until the 40 minutes of bloodshed is over.
In case you haven't gathered, LOTM's lyrics are medieval, fantasy based, D&D oriented all the way. Just check out some of the song titles: "Black Viper Barbarian Clan", "When the Ice Giants Slayed All", "Assassins of the Cursed Mist", etc. Now, I know there are a lot of metal fans who are immediately turned off by this notion, regardless the genre, their reasoning being that singing about slaying dragons is deemed cheesy, childish, and stupidly macho. I guess you'd have to have been weaned on role-playing games back in their heyday to enjoy these kinds of tales. But lyrics aside, let's get to what really matters, the music. The guitar tones are thicker than a red dragon's hide, and the production is as raw and meaty as its dinner. Speed is the name of the game on just about every song, save for the second to last number, "Doomtrooper", which is a strung-out, bogged down, doomed beast of a track.
The album, thankfully, is fairly short, coming in at just under forty minutes. Ten of which are taken up by the aforementioned "Doomtrooper", leaving a mere browbeating half-hour left. Getting bludgeoned upside the head with this mace any longer would just be too much anyway. The constant assault borders on monotony, but the album's brevity keeps things from getting stale, and we all need a jolt like this every now and then when the mood is right.
In closing, if castle lyrics bother you, don't even take off the wrapper. If lyrics are of less importance to you or you like songs about the dark ages, and you seriously need a fast, thrashed fix, then "War Metal Battle Master" will definitely polish your sword.
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