Released: 2009, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Taking a page from the playbook of latter-day Exodus, Kenosha, Wisconsin’s Lazarus A.D. ride the wave of thrash metal’s resurgence on THE ONSLAUGHT. Originally released independently in 2007 while the band was still simply called Lazarus (they recently added the “A.D.” to avoid confusion with other bands), Metal Blade Records has signed these boys up and enlisted James Murphy (Death, Testament) to work out the disc’s rough edges on a new remix and remaster. THE ONSLAUGHT successfully bridges the gap between the old- and new-schools of thrash with plenty of modern touches but still stays firmly rooted in the gutter-dwelling muck and mire that fueled circle pits back in the eighties. As far as the rash of bands that seem to be popping up everywhere with thrash metal coursing through their veins, Lazarus A.D. seems like one to watch.
While thrash bands typically use the riff as the focal point, what sets Lazarus A.D. apart from the rest of the new thrash pack is the powerhouse drumming of Ryan Schutler. Double bass is utilized everywhere but on tracks like “Revolution” and “Lust,” Schutler really takes over, treading near the heavy groove style of Lamb of God’s Chris Adler and utilizing lots of stylish fills. Alex Lackner and Dan Gapen are no slouches on guitar, though, as the two blaze up throughout the record with an intensity that is sure to fuel plenty of air guitar sessions. The Exodus comparisons are inevitable, whether the band appreciates it or not. Jeff Paulick’s vocals are a dead-ringer for Rob Dukes and the big, meaty grooves the band churns out on tracks like “Every Word Unheard” among others could easily have been lifted off SHOVEL-HEADED KILL MACHINE or THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION. But that is not necessarily a negative, either, as Lazarus A.D. manages to incorporate enough of their own style on “Who I Really Am,” “Forged In Blood” and “Thou Shall Not Fear” to keep the critics at bay.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult these days to pick and choose which of these new thrash bands are worth checking out and which are not. Unlike the metalcore and melodic death genres which were the last two “trends” to flood the market, thrash is less technical, less flashy and a bit harder to deconstruct. Fans looking for direct copies of the Bay Area forefathers can go to bands like Warbringer, Evile, etc. for a back-to-basics, thrash-til-death homage but it’s bands like Lazarus A.D. that have the foresight to broaden their sound a little to weather the trend. THE ONSLAUGHT is proof of that and should guarantee these guys will be around in five years to make a second, third and fourth record.
KILLER KUTS: “Thou Shall Not Fear,” “Damnation For The Weak,” “Revolution,” “Lust,” “Forged In Blood,” “Who I Really Am”