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Lazarus A.D. - "The Onslaught" (CD)

Lazarus A.D. - "The Onslaught" CD cover image

"The Onslaught" track listing:

1. Last Breath (4:39)
2. Thou Shall Not Fear (4:36)
3. Damnation For The Weak (4:22)
4. Absolute Power (4:25)
5. Revolution (5:03)
6. Rebirth (4:05)
7. Lust (4:34)
8. Forged In Blood (3:51)
9. Every Word Unheard (3:33)
10. Who I Really Am (4:04)

Reviewed by on November 18, 2009

"Just like the thrash metal gods of yore, Lazarus A.D. has kept it simple and stuck to writing good songs."

Lazarus A.D. has gotten so much press here in the Midwestern United States that is seems like they have been playing their thrash metal since the mid 1980s. Opening for bands like Testament and Anthrax all over the Midwest has certainly helped, and their singles and samplers have been around for a while. And despite recording their first full-length in early 2007, “The Onslaught” didn’t get the treatment it was due until now. Which is a shame, as this is one unbelievable, too-good-to-be-true, fantastic album.

The opener, “Last Breath,” sets the tone. A ninety second intro with squealing guitars, fast and staccato riffs, and syncopated double kick drums rips in quite nicely. And don’t forget, the music is eminently headbangable. Jeff Paulick finally throws his vocals, and it is clear this isn’t metalcore wrapped up in a disguise. The vocals are simple shouts, and aren’t anything special, but they work because the music drives them forward. When the solo hits it’s clear that lead guitarist Dan Gapen has done his homework, as the 32nd notes fly, building to the exciting conclusion just like Kirk Hammett does.

But any comparison to thrash metal’s founders is complementary, as the band incorporates their influences, but does not ape them. It’s clear from front to back that this is Lazarus A.D., and not a cover band. While Gapen features Hammett’s style quite a bit, the band as a whole borrows from all the greats – Anthrax, Exodus, Testament, Metallica, Megadeth, Death Angel. It’s all there, but Lazarus A.D. has made it into their own magic concoction.

“Thou Shall Not Fear” has many smooth rhythm changes (as does most of the album), fueled by drummer Ryan Shutler, which keeps the song moving at a brisk pace through its chunky riffs. Shutler is back on “Revolution,” this time wailing away on his kit like a banshee cry. “Forged in Blood” has some elements of death metal, and crashes about like a bull in the china shop. “Lust” is the closest the band gets to older school thrash, as the production values seem to be altered just a bit to get at that old-timey feel.

This is metal in the 21st century, however, and every once in a while the band reaches the point where a breakdown would be perfect, or maybe a clean vocal to play the good cop for a bit would be nice. But they always manage to back away and stick to their guns, usually by putting in a shouted gang vocal section or searing solo from Gapen.

The band’s energy is apparent, every song wails on with fists pumping and heads banging, and nothing gets old. Just like the thrash metal gods of yore, Lazarus A.D. has kept it simple and stuck to writing good songs. Never mind that each song incorporates the same elements – Lazarus A.D. has found that place where every song is exactly the same, completely different, and a great ride all at the same time.

Highs: The extended intros and bridges rock as the band can extend and just thrash away.

Lows: “Every Word Unheard” has an awkward vocal aesthetic.

Bottom line: So simple, but so good.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)