Lair of the Minotaur - Carnage
Southern Lord
Heavy Doom/Thrash
8 songs (36'52")
Release year: 2004
Lair of the Minotaur, Southern Lord
Reviewed by Alex

Note: Read the whole review, do not just look at the quote.

Southern Lord label has intrigued me for a while. Such a collection of heavy doom acts, some of them very cult or underground. Yet I never found the time, few extra $$ or 100% desire to go and get me one of those discs. The situation resolved itself when the promo for Lair of the Minotaur Carnage showed up. On the other hand, the pressure was on, would this be something I like?

I don’t recall where I read this story, it happened somewhere around the turn of the century. In some theatre in Britain the audience came to see a play. A pair of scientists decided to stage an experiment when they started pumping subsonic low frequencies through special tubes into the building. Not seeing anything on stage, and most importantly not hearing anything either, the audience felt anxious, disturbed and terrified. The purpose of the experiment was to determine how human brain reacts to such frequencies.

Chicago’s Lair of the Minotaur, although audible, have about the same effect on the listener thanks to their maxed out bottom end. The first listen to Carnage frankly left me befuddled. Rumbling chaos and screaming vocals of the opener Carnage Fucking Carnage still leave me confused. Some places on the CD, like out of nowhere synth and fuzzy static end of Demon Serpent or nothing but a guitar torture on the slow Lion Killer, are downright weird. However, repeated spins have settled the feelings and provided an insight of what is happening on Carnage, an album mixing sonic aggression and Greek mythology.

To me, the best moments of the album are when LOTM unleashes their devastating sense of groove. Bass shakes the floor and rips the cloth from the speakers, and guitars chug seemingly endless repeating chord progressions (The Wolf, Enemy of Gods). Those riffs crush the skull mercilessly and when the drums double bass and even a hint of melody appears, the end of Enemy of Gods, my state was that of a hypnotic trance. A slight speed up of the next track, Warlord, more rhythmic chugging and downtuned guitar loops serving as a twisted form of solo make Enemy of Gods and Warlord the best one-two punch on the album (for these ears, anyway). Another interesting cut is the closer Burning Temple. Slow and overly Egyptian, very reminiscent of a Nile instrumental in the beginning, the song grows with its drone & crush guitar combination. Another dash of melody towards the end of Burning Temple is so effective I wish the band would do that more often. Such sonic assault mixed with melody would have been simply devastating, but LOTM focuses on barbaric headbanging much more.

Band leader, guitarist and vocalist Steven Rathbone says that often he just grabs the guitar, starts chugging and the first thing that comes out ends up to be the best. Such confidence, bordering on downright arrogance, has served well one other band, the one Lair of the Minotair reminds me of. Venerable Celtic Frost. Tom G. Warrior also didn’t care much for what they would think about his riffs or vocals, he just put them out. In fact, Rathbone’s vocals sound a lot like what Tom G. Warrior would do, although at times Steve belts out almost a hardcore scream. Extreme Black Sabbath fans, and maybe those of Venom, may like Carnage as well. However, booming bass production of Carnage propels LOTM ahead of old stuff recorded by Cronos and Venom.

Self-admittedly, I am not a Celtic Frost fan, and upon my first few listens of Carnage I wanted to assign it “only for serious fans of the genre” tag. Should it be the testament of something then that I have raised my quote since by 20 points or so? Don’t know, and thus the opening Note. The fans of Into the Pandemonium and To Mega Therion should love Carnage. The rest of you, you can get into it, but proceed with caution.

Killing Songs :
Enemy of Gods, Warlord, Burning Temple
Alex quoted 63 / 100
Other albums by Lair of the Minotaur that we have reviewed:
Lair of the Minotaur - Godslayer reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Lair of the Minotaur - The Ultimate Destroyer reviewed by Alex and quoted 77 / 100
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