Both formed in 2003, both from California, both have cool logos, both have a full length out and now they shave a split. California’s best kept secret. I’ve never really been a fan of band names of more than two words, if you need to come up with a truncated version for everyday conversation the name is too long. Curiously the promo sheet is all about LSOD but only mentions Valdur in passing, as in they are the other band in the split.
Lightning Swords of Death is up first on the disc, so lets start there. Atmospheric, that most overused of words, fits well here, as does melodic. Just listen to the guitar leads on “Paths to Chaos” near the end of the thirteen and a half minutes especially. As for the atmosphere, that is the entirety of the album, an atmospheric disk that one can mosh to. Excellent musicianship, very good flow to the songs, especially the shorter ones, and a ton of effort is what becomes obvious on first listen. The two ten minute plus songs both have obviously had a lot of passion and dedication to the craft poured into them. The first is the above mentioned song, the second I’ll get back to later since it is a Valdur song, “Raven God Amongst Us.” LSOD has a militant edge, especially pronounced through the drumming, and precision is just as important as ripping your face off.
There is an abrupt shift to “Raven God Amongst Us” to introduce the second half of the split, much more straight up fast black metal, with not nearly as much of the thrash elements in evidence. The slow breaks still propel forward, everything here is about speeding you on your way. The vocals are a bit distant, buried behind the drums. I like the loud drums. I just would like the vocals a bit louder as well. The music is tight, thunderous at times, a good match for the lightning half, cacophonous at other points. Abrupt starts and stops, quick time changes, and some nice swirling turns to dump you on your head, melodic leads sprinkled here and there, hard driving and somber moments, all show off the skill level of the guitarist and bassist.
A trait both bands share is to let the guitars and drums speak in their own voices without continuously being shouted down by the vocals, makes me love the long songs. If your song can’t stand alone as an instrumental first and you feel the need to hide the lack of musicality behind a wall of continuous screamage, well several hundred similar thinkers release material each year. Both of these bands understand that actively not using vocal lines is just as important or more so than using them. Just listen to “Spears Torrent” (Valdur) and imagine it with an overdone barking of repeated lyrics, where the voice is it works great, where the voice is not also works great.
I’ll admit to being stuck in a cave of my own for awhile when it comes to new American bands and I missed hearing about both these bands. You can bet I’ll be looking up the previous full length releases by both bands. Favorite songs, “Paths to Chaos”, “Raven God Amongst Us”, “Chant of Battlelust.” Don’t just sit there, order this disc.[Visit the band's website]