Album Review: Lightning Swords of Death – Baphometic Chaosium

//Album Review: Lightning Swords of Death – Baphometic Chaosium

Lightning Swords of Death - Baphometic Chaosium review

Lightning Swords of Death – Baphometic Chaosium

By Gary Lukes

There’s a long-running commercial on this side of the pond that derides the common misconceptions of California. A parade of surfers, boy bands and vapid celebrities bemoaning the typical stereotypes.

Yet, so far from the frozen fjords of Scandinavia, there’s a cold heart beating under the sweltering sun; dark hordes sprouting like weeds across the Golden State. Twenty-one years after Von poisoned the Pacific coastline and helped kick-start the USBM movement, the Californian black metal scene is among the nation’s most venomous and vibrant, with LA’s Lightning Swords of Death fast becoming firm fixtures on its dark mantel.

Taking a page from their bay-area brethren and binding it to the obsidian texts of black metal, the band have accumulated a decade of thrashing, blackened chaos. Cloaked in a pallid veil of smog drawn from the murky Los Angeles skyline and ready to unleash their third plague upon humanity.

“Baphometic Chaosium” slithers into consciousness with a brief tremor of atmospherics that gnaws at your periphery. It’s a serenity that’s short-lived, soon swallowed whole by a burst of marching drums and prog-guitar lines that stitch and split over Autarch’s croaked conjurations; erupting into a hail of blistering tremolo artillery. It’s only a matter of time before the band launch into a signature salvo of thrash. Guitars gallop like goat hooves over a battlefield of bone and cartilage; careering straight into the blizzard riffing and black mass hysterics of “Acid Gate”.

Flat-out and fearless so far , this momentum is drastically altered by the advent of “Pyschic Waters”. Pivoted on the pointed end of a nauseous riff, blast beats are left to swirl the perimeter while the song’s turbulent epicentre wavers dangerously. The song’s main howling motif worms its way into your skull, prodding between your temples. When it finally trips you over the edge, you’re left trapped inside the writhing walls of instrumental “Cloven Shields”; two minutes of terse ambience that’s akin to being swathed in a nightmare.

The follow-up, “Chained to Decay”, is the sound of your eye-lids snapping open, only to find the feverish dream is actually reality. Rising on a coda of pounding tribalisms and closing walls of sound, guitars limber menacingly in the background, eventually strangled into a staccato build over which the vocalist spits and growls his demented scripture.

It’s a triptych of tracks that owe much to the down-tempo dark arts of Celtic Frost, and adds another (outer) dimension to the harrowing pace set early on. However, any lingering inertia is vanquished by “R’lyeh Wuurm”; an absolute maelstrom that swarms around the recurring locomotive chug at its heart.

“Epicyclarium” sees Autarch speaking in forked tongues while tumultuous riffs thunder around his foul, evangelistic ranting. Which leaves final track “Oaken Chrysalis” to surge furiously into the fold. Black torrents of venom boiling in its veins and bent guitar notes unravelling at the seams as they’re torn open by the fierce chug of the album’s dying riff; itself left to fade out and rot into the eerie ambiance that began our journey.

“Baphometic Chaosium” is Lightning Swords of Death’s defining moment thus far; blessed with a greater clarity than before and cursed by an aphotic aura that’s more malevolent than ever. No longer content to simply claw out your eyes and clutch to your spine, the band have channelled a vibe more visceral and foreboding. While this album probably won’t convert the masses, it does spawn another sinister spire for the west coast skyline, and reinforces the suspicion that California’s a little more grim than the tourist board would have us believe.


Baphometic Chaosium is out now on Metal Blade records.

Lightning Swords Of Death on facebook.


By |2013-02-11T00:00:00+01:00February 11th, 2013|CD Reviews|0 Comments

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