Friday, August 27, 2010

Lair of the Minotaur - War Metal Battle Master

Just when you thought there were no more steps...

They step up another step. Lair of the Minotaur reigns as pretty much the only band from my hometown region (Chicago) that I can stand. To me, they sound like a hybrid of death/thrash metal with a kind of stoner/doom tone, which is fucking awesome. To call them doom metal would be a hideous misnomer though, as this is faster than any doom band would ever attempt to play.

War Metal Battle Master ranks as their best album so far, topping the amazing The Ultimate Destroyer. Even if you can't stand the music, every metal fan can appreciate the extreme cheese of the song/album titles. Choice names from this album include Horde of Undead Vengeance, Black Viper Barbarian Clan, Slaughter of the Bestial Legion, and War Metal Battle Master. And once again, just like the last two albums, the quality of the music is proportional to the cheese of the titles.

I can understand the criticisms that get hurled at the band, as they have an extremely distorted and/or fuzzy guitar tone, but I believe it complements the attitude perfectly. Destructive would be a good adjective to describe the music. I know it doesn't sound super descriptive on paper, but that's one of the only words one can come up with upon hearing the music. Each and every riff (and trust me, there's about a metric fuckton of 'em) just feels like Sleipnir was outfitted with spiked horseshoes and trained to stomp on your groin. Most of the songs are high speed thrashing death monsters, with the only notable exception being the nearly ten minute Doomtrooper which is, as the title implies, closer to doom in terms of speed and riffage. Assassins of the Cursed Mist gives of a Motorhead-esque vibe to me, which is a very good thing. What this does though, is makes the song sound similar to some of the newer High on Fire, who are essentially a slower, sludgier Motorhead. This kind of takes away from Lair of the Minotaur's fresh originality, but it's not a big deal in the long run.

The only places the album feels lacking are in the two tracks I just mentioned. Doomtrooper is an unwelcome change of pace that seems to break the flow more than add variety to me. Assassins of the Cursed Mist has about three or four of those annoying "everything but the guitar drops out for three seconds before the whole band kicks in again with a badass scream". It's a cool technique when used sparingly, but it makes the song seem disjointed when used so many times in the same track, but now I'm just nitpicking.

In all, the first five tracks are some of the best the band has ever put out, but a few problems with the later tracks take the album away from the coveted perfect score. It is by no means a flawed album, just not perfect (if that makes any sense). So to conclude, brutality at it's finest with one of the best examples of cheese outside of a power metal context to be found in metal. A hell of a lot of fun to crank and headbang to. Highly recommended.

RATING - 95%

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