Image is important in heavy metal. In fact, the whole history of heavy metal can be thought of as suburban kids pretending to be badasses. Okay, that sounds terrible, but it is true that image is an important aspect in heavy metal as it can either be used well or terribly. When attempting to sell ideas of darkness, damnation, and lawless evil, it takes a well crafted pitch. A well crafted pitch can carry a record to greatness. Perhaps a suit and a powerpoint is necessary. Perhaps the complete breakdown of everything good and decent in the world that only leaves the grime of debauchery and the stinging afterglow of hate. Alright, that and the powerpoint.
Lightning Swords of Death have existed before this year. In fact, this Los Angeles outfit has been around for a few years, releasing records to surprisingly mixed reviews. The band, then and now, seems to be two separate entries as their third record, Baphometic Chaosium, is shaping up to be a terrific fresh starting point. Lightning Swords of Death succeeds for many reasons but most importantly because they know how to sell themselves. I have already mentioned that one needs to pitch an image. Successful bands do this well. They connect with their audience. Less successful ones do not make that connection as the idea of evil must be something your audience can agree with. When did I turn into hell´s PR department? Well, how about you go and make this evil dashing, dangerous, and completely badass? Alright, now that you have this “message” how will you deliver it to your audience?
the mixture between black, thrash, and death is a strange sort of genre. For the most part bands use the basic structure of one and then add the rasping voice of another on top. Up until recently, Lightning Swords of Death have been fairly common in their mixture of black/thrash. Baphometic Chaosium, however, leans more towards a mixture of black/death. It is times like these where I feel I am splitting the minuscule of hairs. However, Baphometic Chaosium, along with the slight change in sound also adds an unconventional song structure and embraces heavy abstraction, which not only breaks formation but creates something more menacing in the process.
Baphometic Chaosium comes attached with the band´s first video for the album´s opener and title track. The video for “Baphometic Chaosium” is literally a pitch for the rest of the album. Again, one needs to sell the idea of evil. By the combination of occultic subtitles, naked followers, menacing costumes and sunglasses, Lightning Swords of Death wins over a large portion of people within 1 minute unless one seriously does not get the aesthetic or just hates fun. From there, Baphometic Chaosium rips through a surprisingly competent record that is all smiles and the blood of animals dripped over disassembled motorcycle parts.
One of the most striking features of Baphometic Chaosium is its unhinged songwriting. While black/death is employed, there is a swirling chaos which runs throughout the record. Even its lead single sways back and forth with no real verse or chorus to be identified. Songs like “Chained To Decay” are literally satanic hip swingers which just sway back spewing venom to an oddly timed beat. The album´s closer “Oaken Chrysalis” is perhaps the most standard in songwriting that, in contrast to the others, illuminates how goddamn weird the rest of the album really is. The structure of Baphometic Chaosium resembles the work of Mitochondrion and Portal just in a more fun and jolly way. I really need to reevaluate my metaphors.
I´ve spent a considerable amount of time with this record and have found it more entertaining with age. Age being months. Its high production value married with an unyielding dedication to non accessible black/thrash/death/evil is impeccable and near amazing. And with the end of this powerpoint I will turn back on the lights and the members of this meeting can commence their mild applause.
Lightning Swords of Death
Album: Baphometic Chaosium
Released: January 22nd, 2013
Label: Metal blade Records
Score: 6/9 Hammers