Monday, March 29, 2010

Lair of the Minotaur - Evil Power

The Pope has a new entry into his top ten list. Yeah, I know it’s only March as of the writing of this piece, but when an album punches you repeatedly in the face, kidney region, and groin area a hundred and sixty-two times before it’s made one complete revolution, then by default, said album has effectively muscled it’s way in. Lair of the Minotaur. Evil Power. Metal, metal, and more metal! Not since Skeletonwitch’s Breathing the Fire have I listened to an album that has felt so damned immediate, and folks, a lot of metal has etched it’s grooves into my desk in the past year. These guys bring the guts and the muscle and the violence and the imagery and all of those great classic metal elements that make testosterone amped lads act like escaped zoo animals. Their sound is raw and somewhat sludge-y, yet the sound grooves and is jam packed with riffs that will have you banging your head, crunching your abs, whipping yourself into a spastic frenzy, flipping over your desk with rage . . . a sound that is as unapologetic as it is honest. Metal not for the sake of being metal, but because this is simply who Lair of the Minotaur are.

For a quick comparison of sounds, let’s just say Lair of the Minotaur sounds closest to a mixture of Skeletonwitch, early Celtic Frost, and Mastodon . . . all injected with a gritty dose of hardcore punk and old school metal tension. Irreverent and blistering, Evil Power is the type of street metal or underground sound that accompanies destruction and ultra-violence. Brutally dense, but filled with great dynamic twists that are fueled by emotion rather than technical heroics, this album is a breath taking hell ride that strips the flesh from the muscle, the muscle from the bone, the bone from the marrow . . . leaving nothing but dust in its wake. I can only imagine that a live jam from these cats would leave more than a few bodies traumatically damaged beyond repair, and then, the psychological damage would be incalculable . . . glassy eyed zombies shambling their way through the city streets, mindlessly bumping into light posts, collapsing in spasm in gutters or on the hoods of parked cars after being assailed by the torment that only Lair of the Minotaur can bring.

Distributed through Southern Lord Records, this band has been labeled as doom . . . eh, okay. Let’s just call them metal coz’ really, they have all the elements. Just succumb to the chaos that is the opening track, “Attack the Gods,” and hear how the waves of pure, unadulterated metal pummels your body like the ocean waves to a distant seashore. Huge rumblings tones of bass amidst a flurry of guitar feedback and drums bludgeoning away, all put together to emphasize the sonic intensity of the music. Like that proverbial runaway train, this song barrels along, obliterating everything that stands in its way. The groove is powered by the guitar riff, but combined with the other instruments, in particular, the vocal attack this song becomes the ultimate chaotic metal masterpiece. The vocals, though gruff and brimming with aggression, aren’t so layered with guttural growls to become incomprehensible. I get it . . . we’re doing battle with the gods, and we’re probably going to die in the process, but damn it! What a party we’re gonna’ have during this conflict!

 “Riders of Skullhammer, We Ride the Night” bursts from the speakers with that compelling old school guitar chug that I found so compelling with Skeletonwitch. Nasty and distorted, vital and immediate, I throw my fist in the air and wave it in defiance of your ways, oh society, oh evil being that has kept the man down! This song injects a massive dose of “bring it on, bitch!” as it fills this listener with a sense of omnipotence, an element of cockiness that would inevitably lead me to many a broken bone and internal injury. All of two minutes long, the song is the perfect anthem for those who prowl the night and lay waste to everything in sight, in that its short, concise, to the point and basically does everything a good song needs to do. Then check this out . . . as the title track follows this anthemic gem, listen to the outstanding break towards the end of the tune. Perfectly executed metal precision just played from a looser mind frame, a more emotions-worn-on-the-sleeve type of reactionary metal. Raw as hell and fucking awesome!

By the sixth song, Lair of the Minotaur bring absolute devastation with “Hunt and Devour.” What’s not to like about this beast? It’s heavy, and brutally raw, aggressive, all of the hatred is sparklingly brilliant as the musicians use the subtlety of nuclear explosion to convey their message . . . and they do it all in a minute and a half! I’ve never had that concise of a thought. Ever. The guitars are chugging heavy, the bass; a rumbling and ravenous beast, the drums shifting from hard driving to fairly intricate patterns as the sticks dance across the ride cymbal. And the vocals . . . the vocals are phrased perfectly in time with the music, the starts, the stops, the raw emotion of the music is reflected, and in many cases made more effective by the vocals.  

Evil Power is amazing! Every song kicks ass . . . “Blood From the Witch’s Vein,” “ We Are Hades,” but it’s “Death March of the Conquerors” that has me brandishing my armor, sharpening my steel, donning my war paint, and every other manly man thing I can think about as I prepare to enter battle against all those who oppose me. The build-up intro to this song is epic, irreverent as all get out, but I get it. It’s a call to arms as we’re meant to stand up against oppression, to do battle with those who marched on our lands, raped our ideals, and this is where Lair of the Minotaur shows their unapologetic nature the best. The best line in their tirade is “These fucking cunts fight like women.” Now, I know what a lot of you are gonna’ say, these guys apparently never fought the women I know, but that’s not the point. It’s more of a verbal assault against a foe than an attack against feminism, it’s a string of words used to inspire the gathered force, and it’s irreverently eloquent. Hell, after listening to this song, I’m ready to storm any blood soaked hill to avenge my fallen brothers!

Evil Power is the be all, end all, rawest, most virulent slab of metal that I’ve heard in the past year. Lair of the Minotaur have combined all of the elements that I love most about metal and created an absolute gem, nay . . . a must have album. Evil Power is the album that all of your metal friends are going to be talking about, and Lair of the Minotaur is the band that will lead a new breed of raw, emotive metal from the musty depths of the underground. Sure, some of the lyrics are based on fantasy, but it’s the underlying message that’s important here. Supplant witches and gods with corporations and politicians and the whole message becomes that much more immediate and relevant for today. The album is a call to arms, though not as black and white as the punk rock of yester year, it’s still pretty clear as to the meaning of the belly fire. Yep. It’s a certainty. Evil Power is at the top of my favorite list for 2010 and has the strength to top many of my previously favorite albums from any decade.  -  Pope JTE

Buy here:  Evil Power

The following video is from an earlier Lair of the Minotaur album called Carnage, but it should give you a pretty good idea of what Pure Evil is all about. Hopefully, we'll be able to host some newer video material for you in the near future.

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