Things have been shaky in the Lich King camp (Lich Camp?) since 2012. The retro thrash group put out the sporadic single or EP but their future became uncertain in 2015 when vocalist/bandleader Tom Martin announced his desire to quit the band (through song, no less) and subsequent tryouts have been unfruitful as of now. Fortunately, Tom appears to have stayed on a studio basis, allowing the band to put out their fifth full-length effort. And despite these hang-ups, or maybe even because of them, The Omniclasm just might be Lich King’s strongest effort to date.
Lich King’s decade long progression as a band has been more about fine-tuning an already established sound than exploring anything too drastic. Thus, it isn’t too surprising to say that this album picks right up where Born of the Bomb left off five years before. Their Exodus meets Vio-Lence approach to thrash is kept well intact, strengthened by an Andy Sneap-style production job courtesy of drummer Brian Westbrook. The riffs are loud and clear, the vocals high pitched and raspy, and the bass has a bright undercurrent that reminds me of the tone on Shovel Headed Kill Machine.
Predictably, thrash is still the rule when it comes to songwriting. In fact, this may very well be the band’s fastest album to date as just about every song operates at a breakneck pace with few chances for the listener to stop and take a breath. Thankfully the album is kept from being too one-note thanks to the slower-paced, organ-coupled “Civilization” and the somehow even faster “Crossover Songs Are Too Damn Short,” which makes for a delightful minute long blast of intentional hypocrisy.
It also goes without saying that the lyrics retain the Lich King seal of approval of tongue in cheek meta-humor but they are a lot more cynical and less pop culture heavy than past efforts. While the band has always poked fun at the metal world on songs like the inescapable “Black Metal Sucks,” the commentary here is delivered with extra venom as “Cut the Shit” calls out various metal scene clichés while “Take the Paycheck” takes aim at veteran bands that refuse to do more than coast on their legacies. No names are called out but there are definitely enough times where one can read between the lines. Elsewhere, “Preschool Cesspool” has become my new go-to song to send to my friends with kids and the political themes on “Offense” are ambiguous yet somehow articulate than all the songs on Havok’s most recent album combined.
The Omniclasm is meant to be another fun thrash album like Lich King offerings past but it also highlights the improvement that the band has undergone since World Gone Dead. They’ll always be judged by their lyrics above all else, but the musicianship and songwriting are both on point and you never get the feeling that Tom is phoning it in at any point. Considering the last song ends with the band’s mascot wiping out all of existence, it’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.
“Cut the Shit”
“Our Time To Riot”