January 22, 2011

Music Review: Lazarus A.D. - Black Rivers Flow

Wow. That is the word that comes to mind while listening to Black Rivers Flow. Simply put Lazarus A.D. puts it all on the line and just rocks hard. This is a pure form of metal that simultaneously wears its influences on its sleeve as it stands on its own two feet and makes you want to stand up on your two feet and raise the horns in their honor, even if you are listening all by yourself. Quite inspiring. This is an album that I can listen to repeatedly for a day and not get bored. Not only that, I suspect I would want some more in the not to distant future. Basically, if you are a metal fan you are going to want this.

I first encountered Lazarus A.D. last year when the remixed/remastered version of their 2007 debut The Onslaught. Believe me when I tell you that is an impressive album. Also consider that it was written by guys in their teens. Very impressive. Now they have finally returned with their follow up and their proper Metal Blade debut. It is clear that the intervening years and touring cycles have helped them immensely as this record easily outshines their earlier efforts.

The music would easily be described as thrash, but now I would hesitate to throw them in as a neo-thrash act like Warbringer or Municipal Waste. They have a higher level of melody and modern trappings. It is more like an evolution of the Bay Area sound that emerged from the mid-1980's with bands like Testament. They have taken that and filtered it through their different life experiences and musical exposure to create something that is instantly recognizable and familiar, yet still feels fresh, accessible, and finely crafted.

The hum of stringed electric instruments slowly come up, accompanied by a lead riff that starts muffled and slowly clears as the first track comes into focus, steps on the gas, and bolts out of the gate. The song is "American Dreams" and it kick off with a riff that surges forward while lyrics are spat in a fashion reminiscent of Phil Anselmo. The catchy tune invites you to join in the aggression.

The aggression and groove continues with the infectious "The Ultimate Sacrifice" and "The Strong Prevail." The latter has a great riff that kicks in just before the 2-minute that feels like falling down hill while trying to stop.

While The Onslaught was more of a pure onslaught, pardon the pun, then Black Rivers Flow is a natura progression of maturity, focus, and an attempt to improve their art while retaining the free form energy and aggression that permeated their debut. The result is a successful step in the right direction with an album that easily equals and in some ways bests their debut.

Black Rivers Flow has a very "Lazarus A.D." sound, so much as a young band can sound like itself. If you listen back to back with the first album you will find a lot of the same flavors running throughout, gaining focus and morphing a touch as we get closer to the present. This is a band that is definitely skilled at delivering a pit-inspiring sound that has plenty of substance.

Vocals deliver melody and aggression over catchy, thrashy riffs and driving drum beats. Solos shred the surface while occasional blast beats pound at your temples. Lazarus A.D. is the real deal, they are here to stay and will definitely be a band on the rise through 2011.

Highly Recommended.

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