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1. Juggernaut of Metal
2. Behead the Gorgon
3. the Ultimate Destroyer
5. Grisly Hound of the Pit
6. Cannibal Massacre
7. Lord of Butchery
8. Engorged with Unborn Gore
9. the Hydra Coils upon this Wicked Mountain
Without engaging in a historical diatribe on the stylistic elements of metal based on country of origin, anyone remotely familiar with metal trends over time understands the trademark differences between American and European metal. Some of the pioneering American bands (think Slayer) helped create a sound that is distinctly American, whereas more recent European bands have structured a sound that has not only been recognized as something very distinct from the American sound, but has also been eagerly adopted by many newer American bands in favor of other styles. The result, without harboring any regional biases, is a decline in the American sound. Despite the trends, we can thank the metal gods for bands like Lair of the Minotaur, who continue to bear the torch of the American style of metal, and who do so creatively and well.
Chicago's native sons Lair of the Minotaur are not strangers to the history of metal and it's abundantly clear with their newest release, The Ultimate Destroyer, that they wear this with pride on their sleeves. Similar to their influences, they remain true to their previous releases (one full-length and one EP, both for Southern Lord) while still maturing. Prominent on The Ultimate Destroyer is the relative increased focus on songwriting. The band's progression is easily seen: Carnage was well done, the Cannibal Massacre EP further displayed the band's capabilities, and the newest offering should leave no listeners in doubt. The intensity and riff structures of bands like Slayer and Obituary are certainly present, whereas slower classic doom elements from the likes of Trouble and Saint Vitus are also present, though not as prevalant as on Carnage. I do not intend to suggest that Lair of the Minotaur is simply copying the aforementioned bands, because the musicians certainly breathe new life into these stylistic ideals.
Fans of Lair of the Minotaur will instantly recognize familiar elements on the new album. The overall production is still raw and powerful, though slightly improved when compared to previous releases. Every individual component in the band, from the abrasive guitar, powerful bass, relentless vocals invoking ancient mythological themes, and driving drumming seem to meld into one cohesive force suggesting that the band is maturing together. The songs all fit under one stylistic guide, though as mentioned before, the songwriting seems to have improved on this newest offering. In other words, the songs are unique and distinct enough that listeners will not only keep their attention throughout the duration of the album, but that they will return to it time and again for repeat listens.
Bottom Line: Lair of the Minotaur is a band that observes the history and ritual of metal without acknowledgment of current trends and without falling into the trap of cookie cutter songwriting. The result is an extremely solid and impressive release that should be acknowledged by fans of all kinds of metal.
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