Disclaimer: This review was written with a minimal of ‘sounds similar to..’ but the ultimate aim was to convey a new band on its own terms.
In recent years several bands have attempted to imitate the original sound and feel from the golden age of metal during the 80’s. Enter one such band that shows to have a convincing grip on this aesthetic and attitude…
Lethal Shöck hail from Chicago, Illinois; a city known for being a homeport for blues (which spawned rock ‘n roll, and consequently, metal) and many punk laureates. Lethal Shöck found their start in this city in 2008 and set about making a name for themselves – they produced a demo of their early material in 2015; on 27 February 2016 they covered the Motörhead single “Mean Machine” as a posthumous tribute to Lemmy Kilmister. In July 2016 they signed with German underground label Witches Brew (a label becoming notable for prospective talent) and produced their debut album ‘Evil Aggressor’.
At first ear, a strong influence from Motörhead is the most apparent characteristic in their music, as well as elements from several other 80’s thrash and speed metal giants such as Judas Priest, Sodom (circe ‘Outbreak of Evil’ era), Venom (long before they ‘discovered’ black metal), along with Slayer and Metallica.
A notable aspect of Lethal Shöck’s style is rather than guitar play consisting of complicated time-signatures and unique arrangements they play a raw version of metal: vocals are on a comfortable level that is neither overly shouty nor under growled; instrumentation is kept to the absolute minimum (guitar, bass and drums); the rhythm is on par with speed metal but with a punk attitude. In layman’s terms this is heavy metal.
To give you an idea of the above, the first track “Sulfur Heart” slams right into your chest with what you can expect from the rest of the album, with guitars reminiscent of Slayer or Venom, including gratuitous solos at the half-way mark and vocals that are in the same vein as Motörhead. The sound quality and level of musicianship is the most obvious clue that this is a band with members who have played in several bands prior, playing with equipment in a well-equipped studio.
The track “Iron Fisted Assault” has the most infectious hook of the entire album and is quite easily the song that is meant for stomping and ruining your neck to. An obvious choice for live-sets and a definite fan favourite.
“I Rock (In Hell!)” is arguably the band’s second tribute to Motörhead, ticking off all the requirements for what makes a decent Motörhead song.
You could easily be forgiven for thinking the final track “Evil Aggressor” had you listening to Slayer, especially with the cheeky scream that begins the track. The illusion is swiftly dispelled once you realise this is another band that plays just as furiously but with a more gruff voice.
‘Evil Aggressor’ in summation can and should be called for what it is: a relatively sincere tribute to the old gods of heavy metal. In this regard, the Bandcamp description of the band is apt:
“They definitely don’t re-invent the wheel, they just cover it with spikes, light it on fire, and hurl it down a mountain towards a church picnic while slamming Coors & hailing the goat.”[sic]
As a year without Lemmy passed us by (28 December 2016) this album ought to evoke some nostalgia for the musician and the bands he played for. May we never forget.
As for Lethal Shöck itself, it may be worth watching to see what direction the band takes in the foreseeable future.
Lethal Shöck are:
Patrick Shöck – Vocals, Bass
Steve Beaudette – Vocals, Guitar
Justin Fernal – drums, vocals
‘Evil Aggressor’ Track Listing:
01. Sulfur Heart
02. Atomik Disobedience
03. Up The Voltage
04. Endless Midnight
05. I Am Your Hero
06. Fear (The Devil’s Child)
07. Iron Fisted Assault
08. I Rock (In Hell!)
09. Evil Aggressor
- - 6.5/106.5/10