This is an album for those who view Metal as a participatory experience, rather than something to be enjoyed passively. It is akin to stepping into a boxing ring for a few rounds of sparring with a long-time partner – it requires a good deal of stamina, and the manner in which one dodges incoming blows is just as important as how one delivers them. Both parties get knocked around a little, but when it is all over, both parties feel friendship, or at least a certain amount of respect, for one another.
As is obvious from the title, this is a violent album. LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR consistently deliver frantic, rage-filled, mythology-inspired Metal, and “War Metal Battle Master” delivers what fans have come to expect.
This is Metal with a strong Thrash backbone, but yet it does not fit wholly within this genre. The drum patterns and guitar riffs fall within the prototypical Thrash mold, particularly with the rapid, successive alternate stroke pounding on the guitars. However, the volume of the playing and the level of distortion produce a sound that is less clean than most Thrash, yielding a lot of hum, fret buzz, and feedback. Likewise, the vocals are a gruff, baritone shout, and it is these qualities that give the music a bit of a Sludge/Hardcore sensibility. The combination is successful in creating music that is simultaneously infectious and unique. This has all of the headbanging intensity of good Thrash, only more aggressive and more violent, creating a non-destructive outlet for pent-up rage.
A few tracks demonstrate some rather unexpected (perhaps unintentional) influences. “Black Viper Barbarian Clan” contains some tremolo riffing combined with blast beats, creating a bizarre Speed Metal x Black Metal x Sludge hybrid. Likewise, “Doomtrooper” begins with a keyboard segment reminiscent of Bal-Sagoth, giving the song a majestic, yet low-fi quality.
Collectively, the songs on this album create a collective impression of the band as an unrepentant killing machine, and all of the killing done herein is visceral and painful. This is the perfect music for fans who are in a foul mood, and are looking to channel a “don't-fuck-with-me” vibe.
(Online June 22, 2010)