Within the rather restricted sub genre that is black/thrash metal, it’s hard to stand out from the ravenous, Satan-praising hordes, but an eye-catching name won’t do you any harm and that’s undoubtedly something that LA’s Lightning Swords of Death are in possession of. Of course, a decent set of riffs would come in handy as well, and thankfully their third album, the equally fantastically titled “Baphometic Chaosium” has them in spades; poised, venomous and primed to wreak havoc on your long suffering neck muscles.
Coming three years after the somewhat lacklustre “The Extra-Dimensional Wound”, “Baphometic Chaosium” wastes little time in hurling you face first into the whirling maelstrom of the title track. Some quirky Cliff Burton-esque melodic tinkering from bassist Menno soon gives way to a beefy blasting section, a frantic solo, and then what may be one of the most badass, swaggering black metal riffs you will hear for a long time. It pounds through the murky atmosphere with all the demonic force of the Horned One rising from the pit to say hello, and will stay lodged in your now enslaved mind for days on end. There’s no point resisting for your soul has already been reaped.
The blasting begins again unabated on next track ‘Acid Gate’ with vocalist Autarch alternating between sinister intonations and a more standard croaky rasp. This versatility lends an almost ritualistic feel to the music, a familiar trait yes, but when done correctly, as in this case, the feeling is akin to the dark grandeur that imbues the likes of Behemoth and Rotting Christ and countless imitators. This feeling of authoritarian menace is sustained throughout the album’s eight tracks with even the more standard churning battery of ‘Psychic Waters’ coming across as more powerful and challenging than you would otherwise expect.
“Baphometic Chaosium” benefits from a production job that frankly sounds unclean, with Autrach’s vocals seemingly being bellowed from the depths of a dank crypt, while there is a deliberately old-school appreciation of melody being summoned from the instrumentation. It just sounds nastier than the likes of Dissection, who made it an art form, and proves that shades of light are more than welcome in illuminating the horrors lurking in the darkness.
Another satisfying foot-stomper of a riff emerges from the Lovecraftian-flavoured soup of ‘R’Lyeh Wuurm’ and you get the feeling that these guys could conquer the world if they ditched the bullet belts and goat skulls, but that’s unlikely to happen, and with good reason. Lightning Swords of Death aren’t going to stop blasting for the devil, and while the fact that they come armed with more killer, dare we say accessible riffs than you can shake a chalice at may appeal them to the posers of this world, they sound like they’d be far happier being the house band at a black mass and leaving it at that. Should those who hear their message feel compelled to spread the word, that’s another matter, and you can rest assured, there will be many who will.