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A Thorn in the Flesh
Released: 2012, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
If I’ve learned anything from listening to A THORN IN THE FLESH, the sophomore full length from Australia’s Luthor, it’s that a classic sound never really goes out of style. Despite the gritty trappings of the album’s packaging and a moniker that recalls Superman’s arch nemesis, Luthor delivers a refreshing dose of traditional metal that lives somewhere between the late NWOBHM scene and the early days of thrash. It’s aggressive enough to get your blood pressure rising, but without sacrificing (or downplaying the importance of) a sense of melody. Though it’s not a perfect record, it’s a great listen that should sate fans across all spectrums of the metal world.
What really propels A THORN IN THE FLESH is the guitar work of frontman Dean Burgess. The guy specializes in bright upbeat arrangements that are married to rapid, galloping rhythms, while peppering in some respectable solo work across the disc. Collectively it makes for a refreshing listen and allows the tunes to define themselves. Vocally he’s got a unique delivery that takes a little getting used to, but as you gravitate across the album’s nine tracks it begins to grow on you. The band traverses a broad range of territory while retaining their core sound; “Beslan” is an almost power ballad that tackles the subject o f the Beslan hostage crisis that resulted in the death of almost 200 school children, while the opening “1914” has the distinct smell of Maiden wafting from the amps. Personally though, its songs like “Cold Death” and “Serpent Deity” that really showcase the band’s talents, as they venture into more foreboding sonic territory that immediately brought Mercyful Fate to my mind.
The performances and the songs themselves all go off without a hitch, but an otherwise excellent album is marred by some production issues. There are plenty of spots across the disc where backing vocals or additional guitar runs are so low in the mix that they’re almost inaudible. Burgess’ voice is also way up front in the mix, but it’s entirely too flat and one dimensional for the musical accompaniments behind him. It’s not even really his voice that’s the problem, it’s that his voice sounds like it was cut and paste from a different recording session onto the final mix. Yes, I’m a pain in the ass about this kind of stuff – you should be too.
But I digress. A THORN IN THE FLESH is a worthy addition to your collection, and gripes aside, I really found myself enjoying the album. Luthor benefits from the familiar vibe of their musical offspring, while avoiding the pitfalls of sounding recycled, dated, or ironically retro. Point blank, it’s a great metal record that metal fans will enjoy. Check out Luthor’s website for samples and purchase info.
2. Blood Dawn
4. Cold Death
5. Final Torment
6. Rise of the Fallen
8. Serpent Deity
9. Blackened Ground
Dean Burgess - Vocals, Guitars
Chris Withers - Bass
Wayne Dwyer - Drums
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