Lord Dying add brains to their sludgy brawn on impressive second record ‘Poisoned Altars’

Lord DyingAnyone angling for a good, savage beating would be wise to spend some time with the record of focus for today. Yeah, no overblown intro or anything, because it isn’t needed. This thing is out to flatten you, so it’s really best if we just start there.

Lord Dying already made a nice impression on their 2013 debut record “Summon the Faithless,” an album that signaled their arrival but also hinted that there could be greater things ahead for the Portland-based doom-sludge quartet. That idea pays off on “Poisoned Altars,” their blistering sophomore record that should find favor among fans of like-minded bands such as High on Fire, Black Tusk, and even Mastodon at their earliest and most savage stages. Added to those elements are penchants to delve into brainy thrash territory, especially with the guitar work that has inventive, unpredictable turns that bands of this ilk often don’t take. That adds new colors to the doom and sludge fields and helps set this band apart from their many peers.

Lord Dying coverLord Dying is comprised of formidable players who go for your guts when they play. Vocalist/guitarist Erik Olson, guitarist Chris Evans, bassist Don Capuano, and drummer Rob Shaffer (who just joined the band last year and who you might know better from his kit work with Dark Castle) may have some creative flashes in their music, but for the most part, they’re not here to dazzle you. They’re here to bury you, piling burly riffs on top of each other, bruising your eardrums with monstrous growls and shouts, and just pounding away at your will. It makes for a really fun record, one that will make you pay a physical toll when all is said and done.

The title track cracks open this beast, with crunchy riffs, throaty growling that commands, and a trudging pace that makes it feel like tires spinning in mud, sending things spewing. There’s a hint of a hook over the chorus, though it’s burly as hell, and shouts of, “Rotting in our bones!” pays off the track’s intent. “The Clearing at the End of the Path” comes in next, chugging heavily and unleashing more furious vocals. The song is crushing and defiant for the most part, but eventually the guitars take an interesting turn toward progressive and thrashy, like early ’90s Megadeth when they were at their apex. The track eventually gets back on the steamrolling rails, with the shouts sounding inspired by hardcore, as Olson wails, “We contemplate escape.” “A Wound Outside of Time” is built on a damn cool riff, as the music is chunky and aggressive, with Olson commanding, “Follow us into the flames.” The guitar soloing is rock solid and charged up, with the hammering continuing up to the very last second. “An Open Sore” is one of the album’s longer cuts at 6:04, and it’s punchy and aggravated right from the start. There are some lines that are roughly sung, with Olson vowing, “I won’t rest until you’re gone,” and visually you get a feel for Apocalypse, celestial bodies compromised, and a fiery, tumultuous scene.

“Offering Pain (And an Open-Minded Center)” also has strong riffs and a thunderous disposition. The vocals are mean and gritty, and some melody bursts out of the muck, soars, and hits glorious highs. But things darken again, bringing the band back to thrashy volatility, spilling again into progressive corners and letting some artistic torches shine. “Suckling at the Teat of the She-Beast” not only is a wonderfully named song, it’s also a battering ram of power, blasting you right in the chest during its opening seconds. The track pushes perilously toward death metal at times, boiling and charging hard, and some exploratory soloing later in the song lets some weird cosmic energy into the room. “(All Hopes of a New Day) … Extinguished” is intricate and jerky, like riding on a wooden roller coaster that hasn’t been inspected in years. You’ll get pushed and pulled all around, with the pace slowing down and speeding up, and the meaty, lumbering riffs causing added bruising. Closer “Darkness Remains” is muddy and filthy, mauling everything in its wake but also showing some sophistication in the guitar work. The lead playing is mind blowing at times, with finger tapped lines blazing forth and the rest of the band serving up damage. The guys practically stand on the gas pedal over this 6:53 track, only letting up once it reaches its final resting place in a bed of poisonous drone.

It’s awesome to hear Lord Dying making leaps and bounds on this new record, and it seems like they’re still feeling their way toward their ultimate goals. “Poisoned Altars” is a hefty step forward, where they pay off that promise shown on their debut and demonstrate their willingness to stand out among a very crowded field of doom and sludge bands. These guys are monsters through and through, and you’ll know that for sure once this eight-cut collection bulldozes you.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/LordDying

To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html

For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/

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