Lik are a band from Stockholm and when their album came onto our review list, there was only going to be one winner as to who was going to review this album. With members having played in bands Like Bloodbath, Katatonia, Witchery, Kaamos and Face Down, you know you’re going to get something good here. You all know my love for the Swedish death metal scene and that buzzsaw HM-2 guitar sound, so it only felt natural for me to pick this up. There are a plethora of bands that have been doing this style for almost thirty years now, so why should bands like Lik who were born in 2014 warrant your attention when it has been done for this length of time. The answer to that question is easy. When it is this f**king good, it’s hard to ignore. Once again though, Lik are no mere Entombed clones and in fact, ply their trade in more Dismember at their fastest and Evocation when at their mid-paced. Also having an album called Carnage should give you an idea of how Lik sound. Lik also add their own sound into the mix, so after several listens, let’s see what I have to say about Lik.
Opening with “To Kill”, it’s mid to fast pace with the guitars and vocals courtesy of Tomas, just makes you immediately think of the days of yore. When Tomas yells “I was born to Kill”, it gives this old metaller no choice but to bang my head and scream “f**king yes”, this is what it’s all about. I really like the vocals from Tomas as they are not deep growls Like LG Petrov or as clear and crisp as Matti Karki but something in between. Think of a Swedish John Walker of Cancer and you are just about there. Drums from Christofer are of the At The Gates variety which is always again, a plus in my book and the snare especially sounds so good. Niklas also on guitar partners Tomas and just enhances the overall sound the band is trying to make. This band is paying homage to the scene that their friends have created and Lik are certainly keeping the fire alive.
Lik don’t play any ballads if their song titles are anything to go by, such as next song “Rid you of Your Flesh”. However, I was worried about their initial leads and I was thinking that they were going to go all prog on us. Nope, the buzzsaw guitar came in and saved the day with an enhanced Evocation sound, this music is just brilliant. Again with it being mid-paced, there is more emphasis on the riffs and vocals and we get the first real taste of the solos being performed by both guitarists. This is definitely more influenced by Evocation which will always get my support and is just a head bangers wet dream.
“Celebration of the Twisted” has a more classic rock feel at the start and when the pace picks up it then has more of a Dismember and Evocation feel, but Lik always add their own influence to the songs and are not mere copycats. This is highly talented musicianship on show here with no guitar wankery going on, just Svensk Dodsmetall at its very best. For the first time, there are almost blast beats towards the end of the song which is a welcome treat for the fans in the pit. “Dr Duschanka” continues with the Swedeath of Dismember but when music is played in its simplest form and it’s this good, I don’t care about originality. The sound, song writing and execution are just perfect and a delight for any death metal fan. The riffs and drums in particular just got this head banging to the extent it almost snapped.
“Left to Die” has an Entombed Wolverine Blues era riff to it before all hell breaks loose once again with more mid to fast pace Swedeath. Swirling riffs followed by excellent vocalist Tomas, who once again really has outdone himself with this record. I could listen to this stuff all day. “Cannibalistic Infancy” starts off with the drummer showing off his blast beats skills with precision with the riffs matching in speed, this is the shortest song of the whole album where Lik have gone for your jugular and “forcing myself out”.
“Death Cult” is up next and mixing relentless Swedeath Dismember style is up next and you just can’t help but smile when you hear songs as good as this. When you are a veteran as much as I am, it’s the simple things in life that makes you happy and this is making me very happy. “ The Deranged” is the slow number of the album where the band are showing sympathy to their listeners by bellowing out slow, chunky and powerful riffs and drums. This is the longest song on the album and emphasises the talents of vocalist Tomas once again.
“Only Death is Left Alive” is the polar opposite of the previous song and is more fast paced with what I think is the best solo of the album throughout the track. This is one for those pit trolls as the pace is relentless from beginning to end with only the solos giving you the chance to breathe for air. Album closer “Embrace the End” has an intro with bomb sirens and bombs before starting off slowly with the emphasis on the power of the HM-2 sound. Tomas once again excels with his vocal delivery, which puts him up there with the very top of the Swedeath vocalists today. This song is a very fitting way to end the album as it’s powerful, mesmerising and even something you can sing along to, which is rare in death metal and reminds the listener as to why they love everything Swedish even after almost thirty years. Excellent way to end off the album and there is only one thing that I want to do now and that is to press the repeat button.
Lik have created a monster of an album and even though there has been plenty of references to other bands, Lik have mastered the art of keeping the listener wanting more. Carnage is their less than subtle way of telling everyone that Lik are here to stay and stay is exactly what I want if Carnage is anything to go by. Recorded by Lawrence Mackrory at Dugout studios and produced by a stalwart of the Swedish death metal scene Daniel Bergstrand, the sound on the album is huge and a credit to them both and the band.
Carnage is out now via Metal Blade Records