Billy Thornock – Lead vocals/lead guitaris
Dan Johnston – Backing Vocals/lead guitar
Adam Brimhall – Drums
Nick Lugo – Backing vocals/bass
So we return to Boise, ID from last month’s State of the Art series. After highlighting the killer band, Krystos (SOTA), I was allowed a pre-release listen to their upcoming release of “Lolth Domain”, due out February 15, 2017 and was not to be disappointed. With underpinnings in old-school Thrash, European Power Metal and a raw, visceral tone not often found in Modern Metal, there is nothing this band does that is not done to absolute perfection and this album is further proof that Krystos has finally distilled their desired sound on this album and has what it takes to stand out among contemporary bands, no matter where they may hail from around the world.
Being a completely DIY band, Krystos leaves absolutely nothing to haphazard chance, including songwriting, theme development, playing, production, artwork, website design, social media presence, press releases, tour scheduling, promotion and band branding. In a world of fan/band infighting, musical consumption at a rate bordering on overloaded saturation and really good bands struggling to gain deserved exposure, it is nice to see that a cogent, pragmatic business model, high level of work ethic and unadulterated talent can still rise above the chaff. Krystos goes one step further and integrates elements of roll playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and the literary fantasy of “The Forgotten Realms” and “The Wheel of Time” series of books to apply a rather bleak reflection of modern political and societal dilemmas with no imminent solutions. Clever and extremely intelligent without even approaching the stereotypical “nerd” connotations often associated with the fantasy arts. If you sit down and really listen to Lolth Domain and come away feeling like you need to sit down at your extensive gaming systems set up in your parents’ basement with a bag of Doritos and a sixer of Red Bull, you weren’t listening. Go back and try it again you dork! This is some of the best and brutal, melodic Modern Thrash available today! Only when you start having to fight the urge to punch a hole in the wall have reached the full realm of Krystos intent!
Starting things off, we are marched towards “Menzoberranzan”, the fictional lost City of Spiders. Slow, methodical tribal drums are soon joined by six string screams that emerge slowly from the background. Harmonized, female choral vocals rise to create an alluring yet ominous tone that explodes into the title track, “Lolth Domain”. With tremolo picked guitar work bordering on that of Traditional Black Metal, the Demon Queen of Spiders welcomes the listener to a dark world where the weak are ruled by the strong. Extremely heavy rhythms, catchy lead work and roughly clean vocals drop like a nine pound sledge that drives you to your knees among the scorned insects. A blistering chorus, unusual chord progressions and sharply played leads move this overly cruel themed track to its bitter end deep in your, now hollow chest. Based from the final tome of the fourteen book series “The Wheel of Time” by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, “The Memory of Light” embarks on the prophesied apocalyptic Last Battle between Dragon Reborn and The Dark One where to live, one must die. A Thrash driven intro is quickly traded for the dueling guitar sound from the NWOBHM in the early to mid 80s. Throaty, semi-clean vocals, cool time changes and acoustic bridge musically recreate this literary atmosphere from thin air. As the song continues to expand, all senses are brought to the brink as the most impressive solo on the album is interwoven by both guitar masters with a thematic climax reached just before the final chorus. Retaining the literary motif, “Sammael”, Destroyer of Hope, Destroyer of Light, The Desolate One, Lord of the Shadows, Harbinger of Pestilence, Seed of Destruction and Hound of the Resurrection begins with lovely and rather upbeat acoustic guitar that quickly devolves into pointed and memorable guitar riffing, blasting drums and an extremely impressive bass line that closely follows the leads; giving the track a low, harsh and heavy Thrash vibe. Clever hooks played just below the surface, another great solo and the infrequent use of screaming reminiscent of early Overkill are just a few of this song’s defining characteristics. In the end we are left with indeterminate hope and a musical free fall into the bottomless abyss. Marching forward, much like the onset of Lolth Domain, “Terror King” takes hold with heavy, stratified guitar work that eventually becomes driven even harder with beat blasted drums and another showing of the decimating bass line. Bridge soloing and blinding speed make this an absolutely brutal closing track and my favorite on the album. A wicked, full-band, free-for-all solo terminated by a false stop and final chorus bring the song and release to an abrupt close.
Still not feeling it? Probably need to listen to it again. And again. And again, (ad nauseam…)… This album is nothing but brilliant virtuosity! Second to none songwriting, spectacular playing abilities and tightly woven theming make for hours of headbanging pain and pleasure! May want to get in on the ground floor, because Krystos will be launching an extensive tour in support of Lolth Domain and is likely to be their breakout release. Yes. It is, in fact, that damned good! Many a skull is going to be brutally crushed here!
Tracklist for Lolth Domain:
“Memory of Light”