Lightning Swords of Death’s Baphometic Chaosium: Black Metal for Punching
My first impressions of black metal, as a starry-eyed youth, was that it was music meant to be played while sipping wine in a castle, staring over the snowy moors and wondering if the Spectre of Death would appear between the flurries. What I mean to say is that I considered it truly aggressive music, even if it was furious and dark; death and thrash metal were for physical rage, while black metal was for summoning inauspicious demonic intelligences (White Zombie was for driving). Something, however, has changed, not only for me but for black metal. Just as many black metallers have chosen to go the path of the spacey and experimental, many have gone the way of pounding, driving, primal aggression. One such band is Lightning Swords of Death from Los Angeles, whose third full-length album, Baphometic Chaosium, is the soundtrack to a Satanic fistfight.
For the sake of journalistic purity, I won’t get too bogged down on the sheer badassery of the album’s cover (I might get it as a tattoo, honestly) and will focus on the music. The opening title track rolls in with a kinetic punch of darkness, its charging percussion, stomach ache guitars, acrobatic bass (a surprising feat within the genre), and vomited vocals bringing all the black metal flavor you crave with none of the ponciness you hate. “Acid Gate” is pure Celtic Frost worship, with its deep resonant tone and occult chanting throughout. “Chained To Decay” has a slow, pulsing rhythm and drugged-out atmosphere that feels primed for maximum headbanging. “R’Lyeh Wuurm” is typically noisy until it reaches a blunt-edged mid-paced shred in its middle and vocalist Autarch snarls, “My name must never be spoken in light!” “Epicyclarium” has further nods to Mr. G. Warrior, but also flies off the handle in with a swarm of knife-like leads and throttling drums. Closer “Oaken Chrysalis” ends the album with galloping riffy black metal in the traditional form, putting an sharp air-punching period on Chaosium‘s call to arms.
Many fans get into black metal due to its lack of typical sonic aggression, and for them, this album might come up short; Lightning Swords of Death suggest very little of, say, Pink Floyd. But for even those fans, there is enough strange flavor here to make the album at least interesting, and for those of us addicted to hard-hitting overdriven assault in our music, this album is a satanic gem. Steeped in darkness (okay, fine, look at that fucking cover, man) and empowered by sheer force, Baphometic Chaosium might be the first black metal record that makes you want to tear your shirt off, shout at the sky, and duff someone right in their fucking mouth.