Black Rivers Flow
posted on 1/2011 By:
Lazarus A.D. has been on one hell of a ride these last couple of years, a ride that anyone who’s had aspirations to one day play music for a living would no doubt love to be on. Fairly fresh out of high school, they were signed to Metal Blade, had their first full-length remixed and remastered by none other than James Murphy (and subsequently released by MB), toured the US extensively with some of their new found label-mates, and played alongside some huge names in motherfucking Tokyo, Japan. Count me in, and where do I sign up? Obviously many metal bands over the course of time have gotten to this level of success, mostly through years and years of grueling and tedious work, but there aren’t many that have made it there as quickly as this Wisconsin-bred thrashing foursome has, and seemingly out of absolutely nowhere to boot.
With Murphy again handling mixing/mastering duties, the production on Black Rivers Flow is just about as crystal clear as it can get. Every nuance is there and never once is the listening experience spoiled by murk or mud. It’s your typical modern day thrash mix. But after some rather stout riffage during the intro of the opening track, the vocals come in and ruin everything, at least for this guy. The approach on their previous offering, The Onslaught, was gritty, throaty and pretty typical of the genre, and you still get plenty of that, but now you get clean, melodic lines during… yep, you guessed it… the choruses. It’s more of a dual-attack-trade-off thing this time around, but the problem is, it just doesn’t work because after about three or four songs it becomes insanely predictable. And don't get me wrong here, folks, because I’m all for singers looking to improve on their trade, but attending the Hetfield School of Over-Enunciation is never, ever a good thing. It's almost overbearing, to be completely honest with you. And add to that that these are some of the most awful, clichéd lyrics I’ve ever heard. I’d initially planned on offering up a couple of examples, but if / when you listen to this, you’ll get the picture.
So obviously someone’s been chirping in their collective ear and flashing dollar signs, because this band once sounded like a pretty promising modern thrash outfit ala newer Testament and Exodus. Now, just like that, they’re taking their influences from the newer breed like Shadows Fall, God Forbid, Killswitch Engage, Chimaira, Trivium and the like. While I’ll never claim to not have enjoyed some of the material those first two bands have released, their time has come and gone and this type of made-for-the-radio catchiness won’t fool too many folks who know better. A word that continually comes to mind is "authenticity," and I don’t get a sense that this is the genuine article by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, it's not even close. Several listens in and the calculative approach taken for each song becomes increasingly similar, and halfway through the listening experience, the legs this album could have had are chopped off at the balls. With that said, these cats obviously believe in what they're doing, and they've put a lot of effort into this release, and for that I give them all the credit in the world.
At the end of the day, there is one good thing that will come out of this release, and that’s that the younger kids of today are going to eat this shit up. It's the perfect "gateway album", so to speak, and I'm okay with that. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win for the underground, because many of those same kids are going to delve a bit deeper and run into music that will move them in ways they thought Black Rivers Flow did. That’s a guaranteed fact. One last thought: the majority of the same folks who are touting this album today won’t even remember it come year’s end. Another guaranteed fact.
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