A CHAOS REALM UNEARTHED GEM !!!
LAZARUS SIN -- “ Intracranial Mass “ ‘CD ‘88 (Private, US) -- This review marks the completion of a long quest of mine, and it is one that has yielded results even beyond my hopes.
Anybody remember the British mag Metal Forces ? It was a bible during the mid/late 80’s & I used to grab it just to read reviews by people like Bernard Doe & Dave Reynolds. Anyway, I remember seeing an ad for this CD-only album by Eugene, Oregon’s LAZARUS SIN in one of those issues. The band name, title, and odd cover photo of a small boy praying the Rosary stuck in my mind. I tried to contact the band several times to no avail, then finally stowed the name away on my “want “ list. It stayed there… for years & years. I never saw a copy and then, as the 90’s melted into the oughties, it initially slipped from my cranium (ouch!). Then, a few years ago, I noticed it cropping up on lists and fetching sickly prices. Ultimately, a month or so ago, during internet browsing, my eyes lit up, for there was a copy at a decent price. I went ahead and pushed “enter”.
It was an interesting moment when the package arrived. I’d never heard this album, never even had a tape of it. So when I slid LAZARUS SIN’s “ Intracranial Mass” into the ol’ CHAOS REALM laser blazer some 16 years down the line. I expected most likely to be let down.
Instead, to my delight, I was blown to the wall by an album that made me want to deck my 46 year old body in as much leather and spikes as I could find. I am warning you now, I am going to issue a very high comparison here but do not doubt me, oh legions of metallic mayhem ! When you factor in the ripping 80’s metal style, the quirky 70’s overtones, the scorching production, the super-charged-Jackson-rifferama & the howling vocals, the best assessment I can come up with is Slaughter Xstroyes -- “Winter Kill”. Yes folks, this is that good.
As opener “Blood for Mercy” reaches the apex of it’s intro and vocalist Joseph Tierney greets us with a commanding “Yeah!” I can just picture him striding onstage, decked in full metal regalia beneath a shroud of dry ice. At this point, Edward Cross peels off a barrage of Charvel-toned riff-storming that scarcely lets up for the next ¾ of an hour. After this 6 ½ minute statement of metal intent, the band downshifts slightly for “Apothecaries Measure”. Featuring a melodic mid-section reminiscent of “Victim of Changes”, it also sees Cross unsheathe a scalding solo that, as many do on this album, puts him in the league of Paul Kratky. Next arises the instrumental “7734”, Maiden-ish in it’s intricacies and actually acting as a bit of an extended prelusion (anybody remember Exxplorer ?!) to “The Son of the Jackal”. This 6 ½ minute beauty marks the end of Side A. Even though “Intracranial Mass“ was exclusively released on CD, these guys were apparently so into the metal vinyl culture that they labeled the track-listing split over 2 sides. To me, that alone makes this thing as cool as shit!
Anyway, “…Jackal” is another barnstorming metallic classic, combining aspects of Priest, Sabbath, & Maiden plus a thoroughly unique individuality, highlighted by the extended acoustic guitar coda.
Believe it or not the 2nd half of this record is where LAZARUS SIN really gets motoring ! Next to decapitate your sorry ass is the 8+ minute “Author of Sorrow”(such a cool title!). While these songs are surely all epics, there is none of the pussy-fied Bland Guardian shit here that metal would descend to in the decade following this masterpiece. This is pure metal, like when Priest did “Saints in Hell”, Maiden did “Hallowed be thy Name”, and Slauter Xstroyes did “Black Rose and Thorns”. This just murders ass, with Tierney wailing, Cross mauling his screeching axe and David Thorne (bass) & Bolund Maice (drums) laying down rhythms like a Harris & Binks all-star team.
“What’s this,” I say, “Piano ?” as “Monument” opens reminding me for all the world of the “Sad Wings of Destiny” classic “Epitaph”. It builds into a melodic 6 min. showcase for Tierney’s singing prowess and Cross’s haunting solos.
“Intracranial Mass” is then brought to a dazzling conclusion by one the heaviest 80’s metal songs I’ve ever heard (or any decade’s, for that matter !), the devastating 9 ½ minute “Out of the Box”.
Opening with a crushing doom-inflected riff, the song then follows totally cool, seamless changes into a solo by Edward Cross that just slays me. There is a lead guitar tone that I worship that’s not been achieved a whole lot. Think of Tipton in “Dreamer, Deceiver”, the Marcus guys in “Rise Unto the Falcon”, or how about Survivor’s “Deceive Me” from “All Your Pretty Moves” ? Yeah, it’s that clean, naked, and plaintive Gibson wail and it brings tears to my eyes in the freaking awesome solo it’s employed for here. Finally, with Tierney shrieking “Out of the Box!” repeatedly, this freight train not so much as pulls into the station, but plows into it at full speed. Concrete, steel, and diesel fuel exploding into a mammoth fireball the likes of which define annihilation.
All to often, albums that are considered rare or obscure end up being much less than they’re cracked up to be, due to the over-hyped quality of their legend. In the case of LAZARUS SIN -- “Intracranial Mass”, however, listen to my words carefully, you fans of pure metal. This motherf*cker is a Metal Force worth anything you have to do to obtain it. Anything !