Lord
Blacklisted

Virginia’s Lord consistently make a big bastardly liar out of me.  Ever since the band’s 2011 landmark album Chief, a tangled and complex tapestry of twisted backwoods butcher metal, Lord continues to up their game with each new album.  An ever-changing line up soldiered on through the vermin bitten EP Alive in Golgotha and it seemed that 2016’s masterpiece Awake was the ultimate progression of their sound.

Guitarist Willy “Kill” Rivera (ex of the highly underrated Kaemon and Ol’ Scratch) has always remained the sole constant member, main visionary and master architect of their sound and since the mighty Steven Kerchner (Pain Tank, Vog, Palkoski, Ol’ Scratch, The Seventh Gate, Human Services, Ancient Astronaut and a bazillion ass-kickers past n’ present) joined up in 2010, there’s been the benefit of his ruthless performance, fucked up filth poetry and some true stability in the vocal department…you can tell Willy and Kerch have truly developed a chemistry that is the very lifeforce of Lord.  With Kevin Marimow on drums (ex-The Seventh Gate, Ol’ Scratch and Ancient Astronaut), Chris Dugay on bass (Pain Tank) and Todd Wuehrmann (can’t place Todd at the moment, sorry Todd!) on 2nd axe, Blacklisted is a positively possessed, psychotic and surreal dose of doom, sludge, grind, thrash, black metal, death metal, crusty punk and 70s hard rock/proto-metal that literally applies all of its ideas in huge, lethal doses meant to kill not stun.  And kill Lord does across these 6 complicated, catchy and technically maniacal chainsaw choppers.

Opener “Mile after Mile” turned my name into Little Tommy Trouser Shitter as the venomous, poison-fanged sludge on here falls into the progressive, bowel squeezing category without sounding neutered like most of the bands that receive such labeling.  Nightmarish, hallucinatory dual riffs churn out feral, arsenic loaded runs that sees Rivera and Wuehrmann trading riffs, turning tempos on a dime and bulldozing through almost Trouble-ish classic metal swerves that thicken up into filthy sludge doom/ooze before finally dropping a guillotine of grinding thrash punk…it’s hard as fuck to keep up with and made harder by Marimow’s rambunctious fills, pocket hard rock beats and brutish thrash n’ smash punk rock aggression.  Dugay’s bass is a highlight and his nimble grooves play an important role in the mix just as they were clutch on the Pain Tank debut.  And fuck man, then there’s Kerch and he’s nuts here; a loose cannon from hell bringing an excellent barrage of puking death metal growls, tortured screams, harrowing squeals, violent shouts and even some subdued crooning akin to his work in Vog to this Last Supper throwdown.  Tom Mitchell from stillbrave.org (a good cause, check it) provides additional lyrical torment and vocal pain to further frenzy the shenanigans.  It’s a fucking helluva an opener and there’s even some chunky, mid-paced death metal style riffing sprinkled in for good fuckin’ measure.

“They Lied” sticks a lyrical middle finger draped in malice towards bullshittin’ liars and since I’ve known plenty of ‘em it struck a chord.  Willy and Todd’s doubled-up riffing hits an Earthen, death metal grind that melts into a rotten sludge in the opening, perhaps a shade or two of Obituary going down before some Swedish-inflected twin guitar melodies gave off some prime Dismember vibes.  Heart tearing vocal screams, deep bellowing roars and the sheer intensity casted off by Kerch renders his work potent to the point where I really think he’s one of the best at what he does.  He toys with some gruff melody to boot that just furthers the music’s all out intensity.  The sludgy southern sickness is plague stricken and as filthy as it gets but a galloping, heroic Priest-like melodic lick at 2:19 just sends this stuff to another realm only to be ripped asunder by the godless, heathen hate-sludge at 3:10.  Those screams are beyond evil, Marimow’s plummeting beats poke out your eardrums with a rusty nail and Dugay holds the groove together with filth-layered bass lines.  You could go the easy route and try to simply compare these guys to Soilent Green (a compliment in my book) yet honestly, Lord is sounding like Lord in 2017 and nobody else.  Maybe a hint of my personal favorites Beaten Back to Pure

Another one of my favorites from this record “The Bandage” lets rip with some lightning fast death/thrash riffing hammered into son of a bitchin’ smithereens with speed freak blasts beats and double-kick debauchery as Kerch goes pure grind on the vocals with a full-throttle larynx freakout.  Bluesy sludge lurches break up the action nicely, everything leading up to an easy going midsection of relaxed dirt doom with drippy clean guitars, melodic leadwork, tripped-out basslines, a steady anchored beat and Steve’s vocal trainsformation into throaty, Marlboro-burnt melancholy.  A screeching surge of atonal, acerbic blackened noise opens up into a heaving sludgy sweat pouring groove complimented with a flurry of sicko soloing that marks the return of the Southern gothic grindcore so brilliantly displayed earlier.  The title track’s intro is a full on smeary, pillow smothering of suffocating American black metal with skin-flaying tremolo and noisy minor chords reminiscent of Goatwhore’s moody, enigmatic work on their first two records (and best two in my opinion).  There’s plenty of unruly blast beats to be found as well as some oblique Eastern scales to the twin guitar mayhem that injects plenty of atmosphere into the mayhem. Kerch sounds like about 50 cultists strangling each other while dosed up on shrooms, acid, mescaline and DMT during his retching higher pitched screams.  A killer combination of spit slathering growls and thunderous melodic chants round out his performance and the guitars cut into some Priest/Maiden duality for some hooky goodness that stuck in my craw.

Never content to relax and just let tradition/formula do the work, the sprawling “Heart of a Hero” is overflowing with seeping, swirling acoustic guitars that open up into vast sludge leaking wounds.  Deliberately paced, spacious and melodic even when it applies doomier influences and sloth-y tempo management, there’s pain throughout every inch of this one…the melodicism translates to an avalanche of sadness.  Deep driving bass grooves push lush, well-textured 6-string melodies forward; encasing the poignant, dueling guitars in a warm blanket of bottom as Marimow throws skillful, precision fills to the wind where other drummers might leave them out and stay pocket.  It works to his advantage since the music refuses to be pinned down.  Rwake, Deadbird, Dark Castle, Crowbar and Samothrace fans should be able to catch the feel.  The riffs are far past the point of depression with gun firmly in mouth, though Rivera and Wuehrmann’s harmonic grandeur shines some light through the eternal night of Kerch’s decapitated screams, growls and soulful shouts.  Watch out for a goddamn crazed, progressive leaned solo at the 2:50 waypoint…  Closer “Not your Problem” takes a steaming, acid rain piss on the cellphone worshipping, reality TV jackin’ off masses that many have become and as the album’s lengthiest tune (6:25) it takes on plenty of snakelike twists, again calling to mind Trouble’s Psalm 9 in some of the faster, old school metal melodies that come pouring out of the guitarwork. There’s minced up bits of thrash, damnation sludge, faded stoner blues and tons of soul laced into this deadly brew.  Steve sings his ass off in this one until completely losing it during the climax as one of the album’s most dangerous pure doom riffs sends the boys home.  Despite having numerous punishing change-ups, “Not your Problem” comes off as the record’s traditional jam, which is by no means a slight.  In fact when Lord handle tradition in this rare instance it still comes off with a warped, off-the-rails mindset.

Intense, original, progressive extreme metal is the name of Lord’s game and Blacklisted is the peak, the higher than Christ summit of their years of hard work.  Even the band’s old school debut Built Lord Tough had a feel that wasn’t quite like anyone else doing the extreme end of sludgy doom at the time.  There’s so much happening on Blacklisted but it never feels cluttered and hits some fucking supremely memorable moments in each and every tune.  If you’re just getting into the band this is the place to start, although the whole arc from Chief to here is well-worth your time and hard earned dollars.  The physical of the record is also a good pick-up thanks to a nicely designed digi-pak that includes art, photos and the complete lyric sheet.  Damn good stuff!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
September 14th, 2017

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    oh shit goddamn, this is gnarly.


  2. Commented by: Jay

    Glad you are feeling this one. This is another album that just takes no prisoners, says fuck genre singularity and runs roughshod. Do the one before this one if you can, Nick. It’s called Awake? and it’s damn near its equal.

    Chief and Alive in Golgotha are no joke either.


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