By Any Means Necessary, Baron Grod, and Lions of Tsavo
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Nov. 28, 2008
Grinding in at less than 10 minutes, the self-titled three-song introduction by local metal quartet By Any Means Necessary boasts all the necessary ingredients: density, gallop, and vocal ossification. Machine-gun kick drums flesh out the midsection of lancer "Charlatan," while the latter-half architecture of closer "Erase the Plague" proves the group's potential. Mostly instrumental Austin progressives Baron Grod cite genre trendsetters Isis as an influence and, though the band's eponymous disc could use Hydra Head production from Aaron Turner's indie imprint, its oceanic poundscapes push lemmings off jagged cliffs without mercy. Ryoko Minowa's piano plays fire to the crescendo reign of guitarist David Finner and an appropriately seismic rhythm section on 11 minutes of "Whitechapel," while the white-water vocal roar of "With the Look of a Gentleman" is in direct contrast to Asiatic atmospherics coloring another 11 minutes of "Thousand Year Lament." Full-length at five songs, Baron Grod's debut finesses epic keelhaul. Local death metal trio Lions of Tsavo pulls off that rare annual ritual: a just-under-the-wire Top 10 release. Ryan Chamberlain's deadly bubonic guitar and necrophiliac vocals atop Josh Dawkins' dam-burst drums and Matt Walker's timbering bass incinerate the end-times avalanche of [Firelung] (Ovrcast). Scandinavian black metal has nothing on the battlefield butchery this threesome wreaks, saving the best for last in the charging scorch of "Witch Horn," the blood-spilling "Throne of the Compound Eye," and the closing epic of the title track, which rages like the Russians taking Berlin during World War II, one of most brutal engagements in history, complete with a cease-fire middle section and lashing four-minute solo at the heart of its unrelenting 10 minutes of annihilation. A pride of Lions, no doubt.