Lair of the Minotaur War Metal Battle Master

Chicago’s Lair of the Minotaur ratchet up their retro-thrash/death with a new drummer on their third full-length, War Metal Battle Master. Pelican/Tusk skinsman Larry Herweg is replaced by Chris Wozniak (Trifog, I Klatus, Blood of Martyrs), who adds more belligerent beats and polyrhythms to complement Steven Rathbone and D.J. Barraca’s ultra-oppressive chords. The usual suspects from Greek mythology make lyrical appearances: Zeus, Athena, Hades, Mars, Hecate, et al., and the cuts evoke current and past metal gods. "Hades Unleashed” blatantly steals from Slayer’s back catalogue, while "Doomtrooper” sounds like Celtic Frost as interpreted by High on Fire. But the underlying problem is that with the arrival of a more capable drummer, the music is not as easy to revisit as it once was. Like High on Fire’s output before Death Is This Communion, most fans won’t recall many details after a few spins. The speaker-throbbing production by Sanford Parker (Unearthly Trance, Yakusa, Rwake) is of course admirable, though LOTM must continue to forge ahead into new sonic territory in order to become truly unforgettable. (Southern Lord)