Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dark Emerald Crush

KILLING LAZARUS – “Killing Lazarus” CD ’09 (Private, Ire) – I have a list of places in the world that I want to visit before I shuffle off this mortal coil. They are as different as they are distant, locales ranging from Boston’s Fenway Park to Tokyo, from The Great Pyramids to New Zealand. And yet the place I long to plant my feet more than any other is my mother’s homeland, Ireland. My fascination with The Emerald Isle lies not only with my heritage, I suppose, but also with the fact that one of my 2 favourite bands off all-time, Thin Lizzy, called it home. I’m funny, but when I find out that a band is from Eire, my ears perk up a bit more than usual. Interestingly, it’s an instinct that’s generally led me to good places: Celtic Legacy, Cruachan, Mourning Beloveth, etc. Sure there may have been a few duds over the years. All the same, I’m steadfast enough that if a monkey with an accordion and a pair of cymbals sent me a packet with an Irish postmark, I’d give his CD more than a cursory listen.

KILLING LAZARUS do not include any non-human primates in their line-up (at least I think not). What they do have, however, is one hellvua debut release on their hands. Described in bios and other reviews as having begun life as a Dax Riggs tribute band, they guys force me, at once, to be honest. I’ve been actively listening to music for 40+ years and to this day, have no idea who the hell Dax Riggs is, so that description means nothing to me. What does mean something is what I hear when I listen (repeatedly!) to this CD.

KILLING LAZARUS (Chubbs – guitar, Dan McSorley – drums, Al Colohan – bass, Dave Lee – vocals) open this album with “Kill For Fun.” I’m immediately caught by the quietly eerie opening laced with an echoed guitar lead and somber vocals. Somewhere around the 4-minute mark, the guitars segue into a chugging locomotive metal riff as Lee’s vocals rise to a crescendo before then entire thing slips back into the vapor of a coda, haunted by creepy volume swells. The band’s sense of dynamics continues right away with “Split The Sky,” a spare offering of acoustic guitar and vocals. It’s far from what I’d call a traditional ballad, however, as the effect is chilling. In, then, comes the rolling bass-heavy rhythm of “I Wanna Get Fucked Up,” a track as insistent as any you’ll hear, yet with almost pop-like sensibilities. KILLING LAZARUS continue to show a commanding mastery of yin-yang, light-shade with the acoustic “Dream Killer,” featuring whispered vocals in the verse and a chorus highly reminiscent of Neil Young.

At this point, the band has probably touched on more ideas than most do in a full album and yet they’re just beginning to motor. “Hide And Go Eek” is lashed to the sturdy backbone of a raw Motorhead-like rhythm. Unexpectedly and brilliantly, the chugging effex at several points lend a Hawkwind feel. (Perhaps that all does make sense, though, considering the fact that both of those bands featured a certain Mr. Kilmister). Amazingly, KILLING LAZARUS have saved the best for the last 2 songs. As “We Rot” opens, a plaintive acoustic lead nestles atop gentle strumming. Harmony vocals then slide in, providing something the band is quite good at: writing melodies that are left-field and not immediate, but ones that after several listens, become second nature to the listener. That’s not easy to do! Finally, they bring the album to a close with possibly it’s strongest number, “Germinate.” A long (10+ min), slow, seether, it’s based on a series of brutally heavy, serpentine rhythms that bring Tool’s “Lateralus” album to mind. This is the kind of song that’s possibly launched 1000 ships and at least, I’m sure, caused music aficionados to spontaneously buy tickets on Aer Lingus. The sound bites included throughout spike the intensity level up to what I’d call riveting.

One subject I have to broach is the following: I know that some people may find criticism with the rather primitive and sparse production values that are present on this album but I submit that it works very much to the record’s advantage. The raw, garage nature of the sound here only intensifies the dark & threatening yet, paradoxically highly personal feel of these 7 songs. KILLING LAZARUS has created not only a stunning debut here but one that carries with it the confidence and depth of the works of wily veterans. Now, get me back to Orbitz so I can order those damn tickets! They Have Risen

NOTE: I must take the time to thank The Pope from The Ripple Effect webzine for turning me onto this killer band. Thanks, bro!


The Ripple Effect said...

Glad you liked 'em, my friend! Keep up the great work!


raysrealm said...

Yeah, this is the perfect example of a band doing something killer and fresh and who can use a little press. Spread the word!