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Album Review

The growing success of High on Fire has helped legitimize other bands wishing to pay homage to heavy metal's less refined but still historically important exponents of raw ferocity — and none do this with greater ferocity than Chicago's brilliantly named Lair of the Minotaur. Intentionally crude and lo-fi in its approach, the trio (which arose from the ashes of cult comedy-metal idols 7000 Dying Rats) follows in the paw prints of early thrash and black metal luminaries such as Venom, Bathory, and Hellhammer — bands whose very human deficiencies brought them down from the lofty pedestals of '70s dinosaur metal and helped endear them to young metalheads by giving them the confidence to start bands of their own. Those needing further clarification of this process need only look as far as album opener "Carnage F*****g Carnage," which finds vocalist Steven Rathbone doing his best Tom G. Warrior impression, while leading his bloodthirsty cohorts through a brutalizing sonic barrage owing much to Hellhammer and early Celtic Frost. So distorted and primal is their collision of guitar, bass, and drums, in fact, that it could very well double as the sound of bones being crushed upon a battlefield, and therefore provides a more than adequate backdrop for Lair of the Minotaur's lyrics, which are exclusively inspired by Greek mythology — how appropriate! Though they never amount to just one concept album-like thread, ancient legends invariably populate ensuing standouts like the frantically thrashing "The Wolf," the devastatingly heavy "Lion Killer," the amazingly violent "Warlord," and the two-faceted "Demon Serpent" (see its anomalous synthesizer coda). On the downside, the album is also authentic in its limitations, with the formula starting to wear a little thin on rather average (if still spectacularly named) offerings like "Caravan of Blood Soaked Kentauroi," "Enemy of Gods," and parts of the exceptionally doomy "Burning Temple." Hardly a perfect first outing, in other words, but to those metal heads wishing to relive their impressionable teenage innocence for just a few seconds once again, Carnage is a roaring success. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia & Tara Koetsã, Rovi

Biography

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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Carnage, Lair of the Minotaur
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