I’ve written a couple of reviews of blackened thrash records for this website since I started about a year ago, and while I still love the genre to pieces in theory, I remember those reviews as not exactly my finest hours. That’s because both those records could easily be described as “Whoa, it’s black! Now it’s thrash! How did that happen?” and while they were good times, I’m struggling to remember who the bands even were (I think one of them was Absu, though, and Absu rule, just want to make that clear). And while the gods of the subgenre surely have excellent stuff still up their sleeve (eventually Immortal has to drop another record, and Skeletonwitch are recording an album with Kurt Ballou this year, news of which made my heart skip), I’m starting to be done with every Johnny-come-lately who rasps something evil over fast palm muted riffs.
But Lightning Swords of Death have album number three up ready to go, and while it’s nothing shocking, it’s about as competent an exercise in the genre as you’ll find from an American band not hailing from Athens, Ohio. There’s no shortage of satisfying riffs, and the production is surprisingly solid for a band combining two genres known for their lo-fi preferences (though it’s not so surprising when you remember that LSD is backed by Metal Blade). Title track “Baphometic Chaosium” features bass arpeggios in the opening before breaking into a flurry of double-kicks and a dissonant lead that breaks down into a midtempo blackened stomp. “Chained to Decay” demonstrates the comfort LSD has with both fast and slow songs, employing chugging riffs over eerie feedback and a ‘90s Enslaved-esque vocal delivery; the next song, “R’Lyeh Wuurm” features tight, galloping guitar work over blast beats. LSD excel when it comes to taking the traditional looseness of black metal and putting the tightness of the best thrash on it.
One thing I’d like to commend LSD for is their ability to edit themselves. The tracks on Baphometic Chaosium never feel too long, which is a problem plaguing many of their counterparts in both sides of the black-thrash hybrid – these songs are taught and don’t waste an unnecessary moment. Even in its most black moments – like “Psychic Waters” – the band never gives in to the black metal trope of stretching songs unnecessarily. If I have one complaint about this record, though, it’s that it doesn’t bring much new to the table. I’m the kind of person who likes his black metal mixed with some experimentation, and while this record features very competently executed black/thrash with top-notch presentation, it’s not very “out there”. I know tons of people like that out of their metal, and I ain’t gonna judge, I’m just calling this like I see it. If that’s your cup of tea, I can see you getting a lot out of Baphometic Chaosium. There’s riffs for days and the thing radiates evil. Good to see these guys really coming into their own.