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Live Report: Lich King, Hidden Intent & Botis

The two songs posted to the Botis Bandcamp don’t really sound like the band that opened the show. The straightforward thrashing of the three-year-old Demo(n) tracks has been replaced by a myriad of styles – some progressive bits here, some black metal atmospherics there – loosely held together by screaming vocalist Peter Hraur. His demeanor went beyond aloof and verged on disinterest, suggesting a nihilist streak that seemed at odds with his band. Maybe that’ll work down the road. Maybe Lör, a power metal project featuring Hraur on guitar and Botis drummer Greg Bogart will wind up becoming the priority. They did release In Forgotten Sleep, a full-length album, only a couple of months ago. Time will tell.

Time is the one thing the two touring bands have no use for. Despite forming and coexisting well over 10,000 miles from each other, both Hidden Intent and Lich King seem to have emerged from the same cryogenic chamber, frozen in place at a time when patch-encrusted denim vests, white high-tops, and absolutely no irony could be found.

Although a trio, Hidden Intent do not resemble the classic European thrash three-piece blueprint employed by the likes of Destruction and Sodom, but it’s a safe bet they got Wargasm records in Australia and they likely consider Toxic Holocaust kindred spirits. The band only got 30 minutes – a bit of a bummer considering how rare it is for bands at this level to travel halfway across the globe to tour. Aside from leading an obligatory birthday serenade to the now-40-year-old drummer Paul Lewis, they made the most of their time, bashing ‘em out and hamming it up.

They ended with “Addicted To Thrash,”, and since this was the last date of not only their set but the tour as well, it was more like a mantra: a badge of honor, a reason to live.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Lich King is even more of an anachronism than their touring mates. Their Bandcamp page semi-famously concedes: “We think the sound of thrash was perfected in the 1980s and we’re not trying to add anything to the mix,” and they go about proving this isn’t false modesty.

The authenticity is admirable and goes way beyond their Ed Repka-inspired album cover art. Bassist Mike Dreher likely doesn’t perm his hair to perfectly mimic Danny Lilker’s vintage Nuclear Assault mushroom cloud coif, but you shouldn’t put it past him. New vocalist Zach Smith channels John Connelly’s hoarse yelps perfectly as well. The band actually offered Smith the gig full-time in the middle of the set, asking him if he wanted to join them on an Australian tour. He said yes. It was the stuff dreams are made of.

Call it metalcore and Lich King will roll their eyes. This is crossover, pure and simple. It comes at you fast and furious — inelegance as a virtue, so much so that it doesn’t matter who they ripped off. If you are gonna steal, you could do worse than pilfering chunky Exodus and S.O.D. riffs (for plausible deniability they covered “Kill Yourself”).

On The Omniclasm, Lich King finally had their songwriting chops match their unbridled enthusiasm. Both were on display in equal measures from the Philly stage. They missed out on the revival (has anyone seen Merciless Death on a milk carton yet?) but you can see, even on the last night of what had to be a grueling six-week US tour, they don’t care. Lich King lives for that exact moment when underground metal and hardcore merged. Third wave? The only wave they care about is waving you to the merch table after the show.

We are in an era where nuclear war seems like a real possibility, fundamentalist religions threaten freedom, and suit-and-tie guys rule the landscape. Seems like a perfect time for thrash and crossover to once again provide good friendly violent fun to distract us from our impending self-inflicted doom.

— Brian O’Neill

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