This has been sitting on my to be checked out pile for awhile. I had been told that they tore-it-up but for some reason, it never quite reached the top. Until now. Now I am left asking myself why it took me so long to listen to those urging me to check it out. Why, you ask? Simply put, Lazarus A.D. rocks and hard. This release of The Onslaught is a re-release of their 2007 debut. It has been remixed and remastered (by James Murphy of Death and Testament fame) for their new home at Metal Blade Records. If this release is any indication, they have a bright future ahead of them.
To make categorizing them relatively easy, Lazarus A.D. can be lumped in with the current wave of neo-thrash that has risen up over the past few years alongside bands like Skeletonwitch, Municipal Waste, and Warbringer. As easy as it is to lump them in with those acts, there is something else to Lazarus A.D. that helps them stand out from the crowd. Granted, I have not had the widest breadth of experience with the neo-thrash movement, although it has inspired me to want to go back and discover all of the bands missed before my late-blooming music love bug took hold with the grunge era, but these guys stick out more to me than, say, Warbringer.
Don't get me wrong, Warbringer is rock solid. I saw them live last year and mused that must be what it was like to be there at the dawn of thrash as they tore it up with high energy on-stage that whipped the pit into a fury of activity. I have to believe that Lazarus A.D. would generate the same reaction in a similar situation.
So, what makes Lazarus A.D. work? First off, the remixing by James Murphy is absolutely phenomenal. I have no idea what it sounded like originally, but this release is crystal clear and sharp as a tack. Simply put, this is a phenomenal sounding metal record. Yes, there are a lot of those around but for some reason this one stuck out to me. I addition to that, their sound deftly blends old school influences like Exodus and Testament with a much more modern sound that doesn't sound out of place when in the company of bands like Unearth or Shadows Fall. All this while sounding distinctly like themselves. They bring the old school to the present and make it sound like the new school.
The Onslaught begins with a punch to the face and a stomp to the foot with "Last Breath." The riff opens hard and heavy and gives you a good idea of what to expect from the rest of the album. At the very least you come to expect heavy guitar riffs, solid solos, furiously incessant drums, a small amount of bass, and a vocalist whose repertoire primarily lands in the barking school of metal delivery. All of these are good things.
It does not take long to get a handle on these guys. They are not here to define a genre or bust down any new doors. They have simply taken the formula developed over nearly thirty-years (wow!) and brought it into the now by writing good songs and building on their experience with other styles that have emerged over the years. They kept simple. Nothing about them is extravagant or showy. They have the basics down pat and that is what makes them work. It is impossible to listen to this and not want to put your fist in the air.
Just listen to tracks like "Thou Shalt Not Fear," "Damnation for the Weak," and "Forged in Blood." There is no denying these guys are good. From Dan Gapen's leads to Jeff Paulick's vocals to Ryan Shutler's rapid fire drums, Lazarus A.D. is on point and will not be denied.
Bottomline. I really wish I didn't wait so long to press play on this album. It is solid, infectious, and just really freaking good. Who needs genre mash ups and flashy frills when you can get modern thrash like this?