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The Ultimate Destroyer

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Album Review

On first contact, sharp-eared listeners acquainted with this Chicago power trio's uncompromising first album may detect the slightest sign of refinement on the band's second, 2006's The Ultimate Destroyer, but really, all that Lair of the Minotaur have done is polish their songwriting abilities, since upon further inspection Steven Rathbone's bruising Les Paul tone remains as intentionally crusty and scuzzy as ever, his vocals just as raw and possessed. So too are his cohorts' bone-rattling rhythm-keeping, which lays a positively thunderous, galloping foundation for some of their best material yet, and among the most excitingly visceral heavy metal of the mid-2000s. Opening with a monstrous juggernaut of metal entitled, errr…"Juggernaut of Metal" (choice lyrics: "Forged metal from fires of the hearth/Hades' hammer pounds the earth") before unleashing a nerve-damaging buzzsaw riff on "Behead the Gorgon," Lair of the Minotaur immediately reestablish their Greek mythology theme on their destructive path to the all-conquering title track — quite a trio to get things under way. "Horror" starts off a little less enticing, but saves itself with unexpected harmonies midway through; the comparatively excellent "Grisly Hound of the Pit" pounces with the renewed blood-thirst of its subject (Kerberos, hound of Hades); and "Cannibal Massacre" (previewed in a lengthier version on the previous year's EP by the same name) imparts true horror on par with its musical assault. Also, and unlike first album Carnage's always intense but uneven listening experience, The Ultimate Destroyer hardly flags during its second half, going out strong with the pure, one-minute holocaust of "Lord of Butchery," the spectacularly graphic "Engorged with Unborn Gore" (top that, Cannibal Corpse!), and the somewhat leaden but lyrically entertaining "The Hydra Coils Upon This Wicked Mountain." Like the title says: this is a record bent on ultimate destruction, and Lair of the Minotaur will give no quarter, take no prisoners, leave none standing in their path.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Chicago's Lair of the Minotaur was formed in spring of 2003 by former 7000 Dying Rats members Steven Rathbone (vocals/guitar) and Donald James Barraca, along with Pelican drummer Larry Herweg. Inspired by the vulgar, misanthropic, proto-black metal pioneered decades earlier by the likes of Venom and Hellhammer, then adding lyrics based on classic Hellenic mythology, the trio produced a six-song EP later that year and quickly found a home with Southern Lord Records. Their full-length debut, Carnage,...
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The Ultimate Destroyer, Lair of the Minotaur
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