Imitative but Original
On the surface, SoCal’s Lightning Swords of Death appear to be a pastiche of death metal, as if they wanted to see if it was possible to be more extreme than all others. They have the most indecipherable, forced-symmetrical logo. They have a satirical band name. They have the angriest press photos. They have the evilest song titles and most Satanic album title. If baddest, blackest metal band was their goal, then the joke is on them. Their latest, Baphometic Chaosium is an original, unclassifiable collection of songs.
Requisite synths start off the album, interrupted by a Gothic arpeggiated riff. Vocalist Autarch comes growling in seconds later, exactly as you would expect. But you also expect the song to be taken over by blast beats and wildly fast picking, and that does not happen. It’s present, but not omnipresent. Instead, there is a moshable beat that moves and a catchy riff that repeats at the right times. On “Acid Gate,” you get the guitars and drums you knew would be there, but they are accompanied by a lower, speaking part that’s eerie in its juxtaposition. “Psychic Waters” features a bending guitar riff that, taken alone, almost sounds like something out of early ’90s noise-pop.
The lower speaking parts return later in Chaosium as well, such as in “Epicyclarium,” a song that mixes some hardcore punk sensibilities in with the established death metal sound. The album closes with “Oaken Chrysalis,” a song that shows that LSoD are most effective when they are the least flashy. Fortunately for them, that describes most of the album: in your face, authentic yet innovative, and at the same time maintaining a relatively accessible simplicity that goes beyond what other death metal bands are producing.