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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Lair of the Minotaur

War Metal Battle Master

Review by Mike Korn

Since Lair of the Minotaur cuts right to the quick and doesn't waste time, neither will I: War Metal Battle Master is the most barbaric, most punishing slab of pure raging metal that I've heard this year. As as matter of fact, this baby is so stunning in its absolute dead-on purity that it may be one of the best discs of its kind since the glory days of the 80's underground! Imagine a band that distills the pure essence of Venom, Celtic Frost, Motorhead, Black Sabbath and Bolt Thrower and then spits out that corrosive acid with their own distinctive touch. Crushing guitar sound, bone-cracking riffs, gruff bellows and pounding drums predominate but all manage to balance each other out with no one aspect emerging dominant. Yes, this music is brutal, but it is also well-written and very concise. Even the epic "Doomtrooper" wastes nothing in its nine minute length. Lair of the Minotaur's tunes are all about feeling...and the feeling here is utter bloodlust! The band's music deals with the gorier side of Greek mythology and you can almost breathe in the dust of the ancient battlefield and hear the ring of steel on steel as you bask in the malevolent glory of "War Metal Battle Master". I'm thinking the invaders of Troy would have really dug this stuff! This is just a great burst of pure metal aggression designed to snap your neck...do not miss it!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Horde of Undead Vengeance
A blast of feedback gives way to a fierce pounding blast of high velocity metal! Steve Rathbone's grim vocals relate the grisly tale of the undead victims of a tyrannical witch rising to take their bloody vengeance. Although I would never call Lair of the Minotaur a "technical" band, their tunes actually move through a surprising number of riffs and time changes and this is no exception.
War Metal Battle Master
If you have the stomach for it, you should really check out the video for this track. I've never seen so much gore and nudity in any rock video. Guess we won't be seeing this on "The Drop" anytime soon! Musically, this is another fast, raging and utterly barbaric blast of metal that really does manage to sound like a ferocious battle. I love the thick, doomy guitar sound the guys have come up with.
When The Ice Giants Slayed All
There's more of that super-thick guitar tone in this blazing scorcher. This starts quick but settles down into a punishing mid-tempo crunch. These dudes know how to lock into a groove and just beat it into submission. Some of the riffing here reminds me of early High On Fire.
Slaughter The Bestial Legion
This chugging track growls like a hungry wolf in search of prey. It's another pounding lesson in oldschool metal values, with Rathbone screaming and bellowing his lungs out as he tells a story of monsters and warfare. The bass tone just about caves your chest in.
Black Viper Barbarian Clan
A swirling, tumbling arpeggio gives way to a whirlwind of death metal speed. This is the "purest" death metal track here, with a definite morbid feel to some of the riffs.
Assassins Of The Cursed Mist
This is awesome! This features one of the coolest, heaviest grooves I've heard in a long, long time. It's very reminiscent of something you might hear from Celtic Frost or Darkthrone, but mutated into Lair's own "barbaric" style. If this doesn't get your head banging, you better run to the barber and get an emo haircut!
Doomtrooper
This magnificent epic clock in at over nine minutes and manages to be gripping for its entire length. The classical theme that kicks it off is oh so ominous and then the band lays down one of the most crushing doom metal riffs you're ever likely to hear. This track covers a ton of territory and hits on most of the extreme metal styles, buts it's that ultra-sludgy doom that makes the most impression. There's a spot where the guitar changes to a cleaner, jangling tone, only to pave the way for the heaviest lick of the entire album. This is an amazing song, one that really defines who Lair of the Minotaur are.
Hades Unleashed
Bleeding in directly from the previous track, there's a strong Slayer influence here. In fact, I was reminded of "Hell Awaits" with the way this thrasher progressed. The cut ends the album fittingly, with a bloodthirsty rampage , barbed wire vocals and a wall of sound!
 
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