By Francisco Zamudio
Be it the norm that though classified as one type of genre, many more modern bands try to be a bit flexible and versatile but fall short. Here we have a better example of a successful hybrid band that is grind with a blackened death metal sound. And given the pre-occupations of each member from a variety of bands, and whether you consider this to be a super-group, side-project or whatever the case may be – this group has not only well received but also consistent in their sound. Fans of grindcore will recognize Shane Embury from Birmingham’s blast giants, Napalm Death. Even more so, the name of Jesse Pintado (RIP) who has left behind a legacy not only with ND, Terrorizer and Brujeria, to name a few – but also with his and Embury’s step-child, Lock Up. Fortunately and unfortunately, grind has never been the same given the short-lived life and career of Pintado who died in 2006, spanning nearly two decades. While he is certainly missed by many throughout the Los Angeles underground and the world, his influence has lived on and given grindcore a growing and changing following. For 30 years, Jesse’s name, along with Shane have become the godfathers of the grind with their influence and unmistakable sound, paving the way for many great bands. Now on their fourth album to date, Lock Up has again brought the dirty raw grittiness in ‘Demonization’ (Listenable Records).
After three albums and a respectful split with long-standing vocalist Tomas Lindburg (At The Gates), Kevin Sharp (Brutal Truth) who is no stranger to the grind, takes over vocal reigns. Whereas Lindburg’s was more high-end and helped emphasize the subtle blackened sound Lock Up maintains, Sharp brings an old school feel to this album with his vocal style that is more on the low-end and when pushed, can be equally raw, loud and in your face. Nick Barker (Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth) is another name worth mentioning that should ring your bell with a fury as only sick drummers can, along with the driving riffage by Anton Reisenegger (Pentagram Chile).
After a brief intro, ‘Demonization’ starts out on a fast pace and immediately displays the subtle black metal influence that’s underlying in their music. Reisenegger settles in and gets comfortable on guitar, allowing riff after riff to develop and soak in, with build backed up by Embury and Barker. ‘The Decay Within The Abyss’, with that intro-building pit fuel, makes it one of the best songs on the album. ‘Demons Raging’, and though slightly faster, ‘Desolation Architect’, are examples of settling in too much into riffs sacrificing the blast and speed infused rhythms favored in their style. They are certainly capable of rattling up the comfort zone just slightly, such as in ‘Instruments of Armageddon’ and again do so with the blackened tone preceded by a tasty blend of a more traditional death metal and Lombardo(Slayer)-esque groove that motivates the head to bang.
There are many songs on this 14-track album that can get you straight pummeled such as ‘The Plague That Stalks The Darkness’, where you get a good example of the more appropriate simmering riffs giving Sharp the time to display a bit more versatility. ‘Locust’, ‘Foul From The Pure’ and ‘Secret Parallel World’ are other favorites pushing Sharp’s presence to a needed level for us to get better acquainted with him as the new frontman, essentially helpful to those not familiar with his Brutal Truth days. As a drummer myself, I highly appreciate the raw and organic feel of Barker’s speed and ferocity felt throughout ‘Demonization’, and it is especially hearty in his blast beats on the song ‘Mind Fight’.
It may at first seem that it is not as fast-paced or blast-filled as we’ve been previously accustomed to, but if anything, the songs are more written out and include the slow paced grooves common in modern music which can hinder the songs at times. Slightly more varied in the songwriting, the grind is still deeply rooted there with riffs that keep the essence of traditional circle pit energy that blisters into a fit full of rage. In somewhat true tradition, these quick audio blasts ravage for an average of 3 minutes (shortest at under 2 min, with the longest over 5). Although given the sporadic time between releases, ‘Demonization’ almost feels a bit settled and leaves a bit more to be desired. The highlight is new frontman Kevin Sharp successfully coming in without losing or changing much of the core sound of Lock Up, and I speak for many in saying we look forward to this new evolution and will have to wait patiently.
If you like what you’ve read, buy a shirt and help keep Metal Assault running full time!
Record Label: Listenable
Release Date: March 10th 2017
01. Blood And Emptiness (3:09)
02. The Decay Within The Abyss (2:59)
03. Locust (2:15)
04. Demonization (5:21)
05. Demons Raging (2:47)
06. Desolation Architect (3:17)
07. Instruments Of Armageddon (2:25)
08. Sunk (2:33)
09. The Plague That Stalks The Darkness (3:00)
10. Foul From The Pure (3:18)
11. Mind Fight (1:57)
12. Void (2:39)
13. Secret Parallel World (2:00)
14. We Challenge Death (4:02)
Total Duration: 41:42