Kenosha, Wisconsin's Lazarus A.D. take to the usual thrash metal routine with Black Rivers Flow, the follow-up album to their critically acclaimed debut, The Onslaught.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Black Rivers Flow and Lazarus A.D. in general is the throwback factor. Here is a band unapologetically sinking its proverbial teeth into the more obvious points of thrash metal, digging in deep with the chugging guitars and the wailing solos. Bassist Jeff Paulick and guitarist Dan Gapen trade vocals and drummer Ryan Shutler hammers the living shit out his kit. Alex Lackner's guitars melt into the mix, fleshing out the arrangement.
The band knows its staples and knows them well, which essentially translates into a record that isn't particularly inventive. There's nothing on Black Rivers Flow that I haven't heard dozens of times before in recent thrash records. They aren't reinventing a genre and they aren't poking around in fresh places looking for new madness.
That's not to say that Black Rivers Flow isn't a fucking fun listen, however. This sort of complete commitment to a genre has some value, after all, and the songs cruise easily enough.
There's even a healthy dose of cheese, exemplified by the band's less-than-amazing lyrical content. When they blurt out the hokey chorus in "The Ultimate Sacrifice," I couldn't help but think of the big-haired Christian metal dudes of my youth. There's an attitude to it that plants it firmly in WWE theme song territory and many will grab hold to both horns.
Deep metal fans will be best served looking elsewhere, I think, but there's something to be said for pissing off the locals with a big fucking grin.
"Light a City (Up in Smoke)" is one of those ridiculous sorts of sing-along cuts. A careening guitar solo lurches around and shouting vocals take hold initially, but Lazarus A.D. slips so easily into the "I wanna wear a T-shirt and not wash my hair for days" zone that it's hard not to smile like an idiot when listening.
My favourite indulgence is "Through Your Eyes," a thunderous track that has the audacity to toss in lines like, "You're so evil, you make the devil cry" without winking or looking on knowingly. There's also a hell of a cool solo packed in to it.
So big bloody kudos to Lazarus A.D. on cranking up the fun and leaving the pretentious bullshit to other acts. Black Rivers Flow isn't an overly intelligent record, but it doesn't try to be. It's a blistering, booming, loud album that layers guitars and smacks out some rich, classic vibes right where they should be.