Review: Lock Up – Demonization

“Supergroup” is a sadly oft-misused term these days. However, Lock Up’s pedigree gives solid grounds for such status given some of the grindcore and death metal luminaries that have graced the band’s line-up over their eighteen years on this planet. Formed in 1999 essentially as a Napalm Death spin-off they have gone on to cement themselves as a band in their own right releasing four albums over the period. Not the most prolific admittedly but given that members hail from all four corners of our world; quality is surely a better benchmark and Lock Up are a band that have clearly delivered over the years.

And so when we heard of the planned release of Demonization, the band’s fifth full length album, and first since 2011’s Necropolis Transparent, late last year, it felt that Christmas really had come early.

This news was tempered somewhat by the news that long term vocalist (and At the Gates frontman) Tomas Lindberg had amicably split with the band (presumably to concentrate on the rather full plate that At the Gates once again enjoy). However, who better to replace him that ex-Brutal Truth vocalist Kevin Sharp – we did say these guys were a supergroup!

Musically the band need no introduction, Demonization very much takes the best elements of the band’s previous platters, packaging them up into sixteen short and brutal tracks of grinding death. All the elements we have come to expect are present from the furious blasting of Nick Barker, an abundance of catchy riff breakdowns (think Napalm Death/Terrorizer in their prime) driven by Shane Embury’s bestial bass tone ably assisted by Anton Reisenegger on guitar who is now an established and accomplished member of the band following the tragic death of the great Jesse Pintado.

The riffage on “The Plague that Stalks the Darkness” and “Instruments of Armageddon” are super and they left myself, and I am sure many a listener, with a sore neck! Kevin Sharp brings a more traditional grindcore vocal style to the mix which will leave old school grindcore fans revelling.

However, I can’t help but feel it doesn’t have the same visceral bite that Thomas had on the previous three records. Like their last two offerings, the production is cleaner and more polished than on their earlier work. This really helps bring out the technically excellent musicianship at work and lends the album more of a death metal sound at the expense of that signature dirty grindcore feel. This perhaps won’t be to the purists’ tastes but I think this has been a welcome development and leaves Lock Up as one of the tightest and technical grindcore proponents out there.

A welcome return to the fold for these titans; definitely check this one out, folks.

Denomization is out 10 March on Listenable Records.

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