Lair of the Minotaur

I generally don’t care for most Southern Lord bands, but LOTM had a few things going for them that piqued my curiosity before I even listened to it; Greek Mythology as the central lyrical theme, a very cool Minotaur’s maze etched into the CD, 2 members of 7000 Dying Rats (Steven Rathbone & James Barracca), a member of Pelican (drummer Larry Herweg) and an opening track called ‘Carnage, Fucking Carnage’. What’s not to like?

Luckily, the music fulfils all expectations as LOTM are not the usual hazy stoner doom/rock, but instead a fierce, grimy throwback metal band that conjures images of classic Slayer, Sabbath, Venom, and Celtic Frost all with an expected cloudy ambience that befits their label mates ‘smoky’ tendencies. With a grating, earthy old school production that’s rawer than and redder than uncooked beef, LOTM grind and stumble through six Greek mythology themed tracks of sour death/black thrash and doom-ish dirges.

Fellow Chicagoans Cianide came as a point of reference during LOTM’s slower murkier moments (‘Lion Killer’, “Demon Serpent”), but otherwise, LOTM are abrasive and unabashedly old school in every facet. Rathbone’s snarl is salty and abusive, while his guitars are equally offensive refusing to don any form of polish or clarity. The retro sound isn’t just perfectly rendered by the Scott Hull mastering, but also by virtue of the gnarly, minimalist throes of the 7 track’s inherent riifs. Riffs that will leave oozing lesions and scabbed up raspberry’s on your skin-just’ blarrrrgrgrggrgrg, urrgrgggrl, urghhhhhhhh. Yup, that’s sums it up.

With thrashing, scraping numbers like ‘Carnage, Fucking Carnage’, ‘The Wolf’ and ‘Warlord’ (complete with utterly sloppy blast beats), LOTM bring a sense of classic 1988 thrash metal tentatively discovering death metal to the fore, and some surprising aggression for a Southern Lord band, but they do have plenty of sludgy, warped dirges of gritty, cavernous swill to please the bong lovers among you. The opening bass lines of ‘Burning Temple’ are pure Sabbath and even when some (intentionally) lo-fi keyboards grace the track, it almost sounds as if LOTM went back in time to steal a masterboard to produce this album. The reverb and distorted notes are purely nostalgic but somehow satisfying enough to make the production not so bad to make the album unlistenable. The groove that starts ‘Caravan of Blood Soaked Kentauri’ is more stoner rock-ish than the rest of the album’s more visceral approach but it somehow fits the whole ambiance of the album. The unnaturally churning ‘Enemy of Gods’ is a pure sloppy mid paced, throwback thrasher that holds no pretenses of being dexterous or technical, but shreds with a grating ‘sonic colonic’ (their term not mine) of gravelly heavy metal.

Carnage sounds so’.honest its hard not to like, even for a production whore like myself, but it does help that the songs themselves actually stand out and would sound fine with any production. I hope this band doesn’t become a single release oddity or side project as the scene needs a kick in the balls like this once in a while to remind us of metal’s past. Anyway, that’s enough of my bullshit just go buy this and relish in its dirty, timeless filth

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 23rd, 2004


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