Lightning Swords of Death – Split w/ Valdur

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Reviewed: December 2009
Released: 2009, Metal Blade
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus

Lightning Swords of Death (LSOD) is another one of those unsung American black metal bands who put out a solid product without getting much recognition. Contrary to popular imagination, one does not have to be from Norway to make a decently blasphemous metal record – groups like Alaska’s Satanist have already proven this to me. LSOD does a nice job of balancing the influence of their roots with a militaristic, bass-driven approach that makes for some ferocious headbanging.

Opener “Invoke the Desolate One” is a chaotically grim speed-fest with riffs alternating pace between a lurching crawl and a frenetic tornado. The Norwegian influence is definitely more predominant here, though thankfully it has the precision and grit that most classic black metal albums consciously left out.

LSOD also reminds us that a black metal song doesn’t need to have constant blastbeats in order to be good. Awesome title aside, “Damnation Pentastrike” features a juking 6/4 groove and acidic riffs while recorded machineguns underpin the understated drum barrage. Bassist Reverend Black has a lot to do here, manipulating a macabre harmony underneath swarming guitar riffs. While the outro is another restatement of the opening riff with a bass solo underneath, it feels a bit unnecessary to hear it repeated before a death-march snare pattern takes us to the next song. Nevertheless, this song stands out as one of the most intensely groovy black metal songs of the year.

“Venter of the Black Beast” is a slower, more hypnotic tune that doesn’t do a lot for me. LSOD was clearly going for a more visceral, evil atmosphere, but when Autarch’s over-processed vocal comes in I found myself counting down the seconds left on this track. I’m not sure why LSOD felt the need to run Autarch’s fine vocal performance through a distortion plug-in, but it doesn’t always suit what they’re doing. Perhaps they were going for Gaahl’s overall sound?

Overall, this is a perfect quickie dose of creative American black metal. While ultimately keeping things simple, LSOD does a great job injecting masterful riffwork and compelling song structures to create a surprisingly foul breath of putrid black metal air. The other half of the disc is from another American group called Valdur that goes for a more ambient/minimalist approach which is also worth listening to, though it’s not quite up to LSOD’s output.


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Track Listing:
1. Invoke the Desolate One
2. Damnation Pentastrike
3. Venter of the Black Beast
4. Paths to Chaos

Roskva (Jeremy Stramaglio) – Guitar
Autarch (Farron Loathing) – Lead Vocals
Reverend Black – Bass
Thrudvang – Drums