Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Back in 2004, I published the following review of a complete underground metal archive classic, LAZARUS SIN - "Intracranial Mass" on my previous site, Chaos Realm. Having just found the brand-new official re-issue of this lost gem in my mailbox, I thought it appropriate to bring that review to RAYSREALM as part of the Grand Halls Series. Look for the band's myspace site at the end of the review and contact them to find out how to order this monster. You won't be sorry!

LAZARUS SIN – “Intracranial Mass” CD ’08/’88 (Private, US) – This review marks the completion of a long quest of mine, and it’s one that has yielded results even beyond my hopes. Anybody remember the British mag Metal Forces? It was a bible during the mid/late ‘80’s & I used to grab it just to read reviews by people like Bernard Doe & Dave Reynolds. Anyway, I remember seeing an ad for this CD-only album by Eugene, Oregon’s LAZARUS SIN in one of those issues. The band name, title and odd cover photo of a small boy praying the Rosary stuck in my mind. I tried to contact the band several time to no avail, then finally stowed the name away on my want list. It stayed there…for years & years. I never saw a copy and then, as the ‘90’s melted into the ‘oughties, it initially slipped from my cranium (ouch!). Then, a few years ago, I noticed it cropping up on lists and fetching sickly prices. Ultimately, a month or so ago, during internet browsing, my eyes lit up, for there was a copy at a decent price. I went ahead and pushed “enter.” It was an interesting moment when the package arrived. I’d never even heard this album, never even had a tape of it, so when I slid LAZARUS SIN’s “Intracranial Mass” into the ol’ RAYSREALM laser blazer some 16 years down the line, I expected to most likely be let down. Instead, to my delight, I was blown to the wall by an album that made me want to deck my 46 year old body in as much leather & spikes as I could find. I’m warning you now, I am going to issue a very high comparison here but do not doubt me, oh legions of metallic mayhem! When you factor in the ripping ‘80’s metal style, the quirky ‘70’s overtones, the scorching production, the super-charged-Jackson-rifferama & the howling vocals, the best assessment I can come up with is Slauter Xstroyes – “Winter Kill.” Yes folk, this is that good.As opener “Blood For Mercy” reaches the apex of it’s intro and vocalist Joseph Tierney greets us with a commanding “Yeah!” I can just picture him striding onstage, decked in fullmetal regalia beneath a shroud of dry ice. At this point, Edward Cross peels off a barrage of Charvel-toned riff-storming that scarcely lets up for the next ¾ of an hour. After this 6 ½ minute statement of metal intent, the band downshifts slightly for “Apothecaries’ Measure.” Featuring a melodic mid-section reminiscent of “Victim Of Changes,” it also sees Cross unsheathe a scalding solo that, as many do on this album, puts him in the league of Paul Kratky. Next arises the instrumental “7734,” Maiden-ish in it’s intricacies and actually acting as a bit of an extended prelusion (anybody remember Exxplorer?!) to “The Son Of The Jackal.” This 6 ½ minute beauty marks the end of Side A. That’s right, I said Side A. Even though “Intracranial Mass” was exclusively released on CD, these guys were apparently so into the metal vinyl culture that they labeled the track-listing split over 2 sides. To me, that alone makes this thing as cool as shit! Anyway, “…Jackal” is another barnstorming metallic classic, combining aspects of Priest, Sabbath & Maiden plus a thoroughly unique individuality, highlighted by the extended acoustic guitar coda.

Believe it or not, the 2nd half of this record is where LAZARUS SIN really gets motoring! Next to decapitate your sorry ass is the 8+ minute “Author Of Sorrow” (such a cool title!). While these songs are surely all epics, there is none of the pussy-fied Bland Guardian shit here that metal would descend to into the decade following this masterpiece. This is pure metal, like when Priest did “Saints In Hell,” Maiden did “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and Slauter Xstroyes did “Black Rose & Thorns.” This just murders ass, with Tierney wailing, Cross mauling his screeching axe and David Thorne (bass) & Bolund Mace (drums) laying down rhythms like a Harris & Binks all-star team. “What’s this,” I say, “Piano?” as “Monument” opens reminding me for all the world of the “Sad Wings Of Destiny” classic “Epitaph.” Eventually, however, it builds into a melodic 6 min showcase for Tierney’s singing prowess and Cross’ haunting solos. “Intracranial Mass” is then brought to a dazzling conclusion by one of the heaviest ‘80’s metal songs I’ve ever heard (or any decade’s, for that matter!), the devastating 9 ½ minute “Out Of The Box.” Opening with a crushing, doom-inflected riff, the song then follows totally cool, seamless changes into a solo by Edward Cross that just slays me. There’s a lead guitar tone that I worship that’s not been achieved a whole lot. Think of Tipton in “Dreamer Deceiver,” the Marcus guys in “Rise Unto Falcon” or how about Survivor’s “Deceive Me,” from “All Your Pretty Moves?” Yeah, it’s that clean, naked and plaintive Gibson wail and it brings tears to my eyes in the freaking awesome solo it’s employed for here. Finally, with Tierney shrieking “Out Of The Box!” repeatedly, this freight train not so much as pulls into the station, but plows into it at full speed, concrete, steel & diesel fuel exploding into a mammoth fireball the likes of which defines pure annihilation.All too often, albums that are considered rare or obscure end up being much less than they’re cracked up to be, due to the over-hyped quality of their legend. In the case of LAZARUS SIN – “Intracranial Mass,” however, listen to my words carefully, you fans of pure metal. This motherfucker is a Metal Force worth anything you have to do to obtain it. Anything! 10.0

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