- Year 2015
- Genre Black MetalBlack/Thrash
- Country United States
- Label Independent
- Rating Excellent
Boston black metal band Lord Almighty released their debut full length ‘Paths’ in November of 2015, their second release overall after a self-titled EP in 2013. Chances are that this one may have slipped under your radar when it first came out, but it’s worth circling back around for to spend some time with. At its core ‘Paths’ offers up a mix of blistering black metal and black/thrash, but there are hints of progressive instrumentation and straight up rock ‘n roll style solos that give the material an identity of its own in this crowded space. It’s a strong statement from a band that’s already developed their sound considerably while leaving themselves room to expand outwards in whichever direction they please.
Whether it’s the cleaner melodies that seep into songs like Desolate and O Wanderer and give off a blues meets sludge sound at key points, or the straight up rock ‘n roll style grooves on tracks like Possessed, you can always find Lord Almighty heading off the beaten path and pulling in these additional influences.
Right from the beginning it’s clear that Lord Almighty is heading off on a slightly different path than some of the other black metal bands out there, as the short instrumental intro Paths I starts things off with a guitar melody that sounds hypnotic and mysterious. From there the group launches into that familiar abrasive attack, but even when they up the distortion and speed it doesn’t take long before the instrumentation veers off towards other elements. When ‘Paths’ is going full blast, it takes some of the best elements of second wave black metal and black/thrash and is able to offer up an incredible level of intensity. But this is only one side of what the group is capable of, and as you explore more of the album you start to notice additional nuances. Whether it’s the cleaner melodies that seep into songs like Desolate and O Wanderer and give off a blues meets sludge sound at key points, or the straight up rock ‘n roll style grooves on tracks like Possessed, you can always find Lord Almighty heading off the beaten path and pulling in these additional influences. But even with the detours into cleaner melodic territory and rock ‘n roll energy, ‘Paths’ never feels disjointed and also maintains that abrasiveness that listeners look for in their black metal.
Though the guitar work may head off all over the place throughout the course of the album, the vocals keep things firmly rooted in harsh territory. Lord Almighty’s singer has a raspier scream that stands above the rest of the recording and grabs your attention from the first moment it appears. It’s an approach that works well throughout ‘Paths’, as you’ll notice that after a longer melodic passage that lulls listeners into a calmer state the vocals come right back in to attack them like shards of broken glass. Lord Almighty seems to understand that rather than having their singer scream bloody murder at the top of his lung to the point of exhaustion, having some well-timed breaks makes each reappearance even more intense and unnerving, and that plays a significant role in why ‘Paths’ is so appealing.
‘Paths’ has the blistering riffing and abrasive edges that are so vital to black metal, but it’s transitions into sludgier and atmospheric territory give it a bit more substance than your average genre band. At times the instrumentation brings to mind imagery of heading off into the mountains in search of the unknown, especially during the cleaner passages, but the abrasive undercurrent suggests Lord Almighty might be just as content to watch you drown in a lake. There’s plenty of room to push these outside influences further, but they’ve already established themselves at such a high level that the only direction these guys can possibly go is up.