Lazarus A.D. - The Onslaught (Metal Blade/Riot)

With a slogan like "THRASH OR DIE!", it's easy to assume Lazarus A.D. will be little more that a comedy booze 'n' roll experience. As I sit with my neck in traction after listening to The Onslaught repeatedly for the last few days, I can tell you that is simply not the case

Intro track Last Breath opens with more than a passing resemblance to Nothing Wrong, the first track from DevilDriver's eponymous debut album. But unlike the very much maligned and misunderstood 'Driver outing, this song absolutely fucking rips. It takes a while for the Jeff Paulick's vocals to kick in but once they do, it's obvious that this is going to be pure, undiluted, unforgiving thrash.

The first track glides seemlessly into Thou Shalt Not Fear, which opens with a riff as chunky as an American kid on a McDonalds-only diet, before breaking down into an Angel Of Death inspired frenzy.

Less than ten minutes into The Onslaught and they clearly weren't joking with the album title. There's some questionable drumming as Damnation For The Weak opens, as if Ryan Shutler couldn't decide if this was a death or thrash tune. It's forgivable though, as his kick drum is possibly my favourite noise since Travis Smith on Trivium's Ascendancy. In fact, there's more than a passing resemblance to the Floridian metallers throughout this album, with Paulick's vocal often taking on the gutteral snarl of early Matt Heafy, before he got a bit scared of hurting himself and passed responsibility for the gritty stuff to Corey Beaulieu.

I swear to Halford, this album fucking shreds. Revolution is so damn aggressive that the album should be sold with a puppy to kick. Backing vocals from lead guitarist Dan Gapen are a carbon-copy of metal deity Rob Flynn, and the song itself is the bastard child of Megadeth and Lamb of God. Ask yourself, how could that ever sound anything other than tit-wankingly savage?

So, now I've sucked Lazarus A.D. off for a bit, time for the cold, hard, truth. The Onslaught is without doubt a formidable album; there are few debuts that are so consistent. Okay, it's been facelifted after the initial pressing in 2007 so strictly speaking it's not as green and fresh faced as some but still, it's the first full length label release. BUT...it's almost too good.

Imagine your ideal thrash experience - a slice of Dave Mustaine, two ounces of Rob Flynn, half a cup of Phil Anselmo and a couple of pounds of Kerry King - it's all been done before. Thrash by numbers, if you will. Even the song titles stink of 80s/90s Bay Area thematics - Forged In Blood, anyone?

However, lack of originality and over-use of the ride cymbals to one side, this is a motherfister of an album. I walked through the busy London streets sneering and banging my head to The Onslaught without a single drop of alcohol in my body. If I had a truck, a big dog, a chequered shirt and very few teeth, this'd be the album on repeat as I drove to the local bar after beating the wife.

My concern with Lazarus A.D. is that they need to find their own sound, or they'll become very old very quickly.

The Onslaught is out now on Metal Blade/Riot.