Lich King, Born Of The Bomb, exclusive interview

The thrash metal band from Massachusetts released one of the most tremendous record of the year. Joe Nickerson (guitar), Brian Westbrook (drums), Tom Martin (lead vocal), Dave Hughes (bass) et Rob Pellegri (lead guitar) love musical violence and they pay their tribute to the Bay Area with their new album "Born Of The Bomb".

What was the response on World Gone Dead (press, metal fans...) ?
Tom Martin : It was pretty good ! We got a lot of attention. Brian Posehn liked us, Gary Holt liked us, people started to not dismiss us out of hand as some schlocky joke band. We're still fighting that battle, but "World Gone Dead" marked our starting to win. In the end, we didn't get the attention for "World Gone Dead" we felt we were due, and that's okay.

Why did you choose thrash metal as a musical expression ? Your parents were big fans ?
I didn't choose thrash, it's just what makes sense to me. If I liked dancehall electro-mathcore, that's what I'd be doing. Mom and Dad aren't fans, but they're supportive. Mom once said "I know you like that 'kill your guts out' music". I liked that term so much I used it as the title of a song.

Is the book of Harald Oimonen and Brian Lew, "Murder In The Front Row", a bible for you ?
I haven't even seen it. It's just photos, right ? Seeing photos of the people that make the music does nothing for me. Likewise with books about what it was like back then. Documentaries are good because they tend to include footage that conveys what the feel was like, but in general photos and text are poor expressions of a musical vibe for me.

Do you really consider that you're only improving on the sound of your 80's masters ?
I'd have to say yes. I think we're evolving in the sound in a way that maybe hasn't been explored yet. I know that sounds cocky, and I know almost everything in thrash has been done so I may be talking out of my ass. I've been describing our current sound as : "What if Exodus had written their ....And Justice For All?" Not many bands back then got silly, and the bands that did rarely took four albums to seriously explore their music. I think we've got a party/fun aesthetic with some very serious riffs, melodicism and thought-out progressions, and it all fits well together. That said, I don't really think we're rewriting much of anything, we're still working from a pretty established formula.

Can we do a track by track on "Born Of The Bomb" ?
All Hail
With this one I wanted to create an anthem, something to get everyone stomping right away. Our "March Of The S.O.D.". Simple headbanging.
We Came To Conquer
This one's one of our best songs ever, and I'm really proud of it. Great energy, silly and serious lyrics about the state of metal and where we are in it. You know how every rap song is a brag-song, where you're just boasting about how great you are ? Metal bands don't do that so much, but we do that in this one.
Wage Slave
This one's one of the more serious songs about the economic crumbling going on here in the US. In it, we allege that people here are hopelessly trapped in a perfect cycle of working stiffs, creating revenue for big companies that distract and discard us. Most of the musical growth I mentioned is in this song- it takes a few surprising directions, I think.
In The End, Devastation
This song was one of my least favorites on the album, but people are calling it out as one of the best. I don't know how that keeps happening to us. It's about the eventuality of doom. Pretty standard stuff, thematically.
Fan Massacre
In 2011, we had a kickstarter so that we could buy a tour bus. One of the prizes for donating a great deal of money was getting killed by us in a song. This is that song. It's as silly and stupid as "We Came To Conquer", except it's aimed at the fans. It's really fun to joke viciously with your fans and know they get it and are laughing along.
This one's about something close to my heart, and it directly contradicts what we say in " In The End, Devastation". It's about how stating absolutes about what happens after death is pointless, but that doesn't matter much because science is close to bringing us immortality. We're not saying science is your new god, we're saying science might as well be because if you give to it as a species, it gives you everything.
Combat Mosh
The big mosh song. Its name is a dumb placeholder that we came up with early on and it just never changed. The lyrics are about abandoning evolution for a bit and just becoming feral apes in a circle pit. It's great live, it always gets people moving.
Axe Cop
This is about the webcomic of the same name, which we all love. It's written by a little kid (age 5) and illustrated by his adult brother (age 29), and the silliness and awesomeness are just so completely wild that we knew early on that we wanted to make a song about it. This one's all fun.
Agents Of Steel (cover of Agent Steel)
We wanted to do this one because we love it, obviously, and also I felt it was time to show people that I can hit them high notes. I think a Priest cover might be next.
Lich King IV (Born Of The Bomb)
Really proud of this one. It's eight minutes long and features guest appearances by Morbid Saint. The real appeal in this one is that it doesn't let up - it's ferocity from beginning to end. Some of our best music ever is in this one.

Why did you record a 8bits version of your tracks for "Super Retro Thrash" ?
Just for fun. I was doing it to goof around and eventually I noticed I had enough tracks to put together an album, so we put it out on April Fools' Day because what the hell. Then people started labeling it as a "full-length release" and assuming we meant for it to be taken seriously as an album. If you look on our metal-archives page, there it is in bold type, just like our real albums. Kinda makes me cringe.

What will be the next step for Lich King ?
Taking it easy for the next month or two as our lead guitarist is having a baby and we didn't want to schedule shows when he might be needed. Then we're plotting a US tour for sometime early next year. Who knows if that's going to happen, but that's the plan. After that, we'll probably break up and die sad, forgotten and alone.

Edited by Laurent Gilot
Photo : Apochs.net

Lich King, Born Of The Bomb (Lich King Recordings)
Out on september 28th 2012

Lich King, Lich King IV (Born Of The Bomb), video audio