Lihhamon has largely flown under the radar, despite some claiming they own some lost demo cassette that is certainly killer but they just can’t “find it right now.” Full length Doctrine was originally self released with help from Auto de fe Prods from Spain for the compact disc back in April of 2016. Interestingly, their demo was only released independently back in September of 2017. The band also has a split with I I dropping via Ván records in late November. So, we’re dealing with three releases here and we will take them one at a time and in chronological order.
First up is the crushingly massive blackened death LP Doctrine. As noted, Lihhamon followed the path walked by an increasing number of bands: releasing the work digitally and patiently waiting for a label to happen upon the work and decide to release it on some physical format. I’m not going to allow this review to devolve into a rant about the current state of the music industry but suffice it to say that this pattern is only increasingly likely in upcoming months, years, eons, lifetimes, etc.
Label: Nuclear War Now! Production.
One of the longer tracks, “Cadaver Synod,” allows Lihhamon to push a slower agenda. Following the two-minute interlude track, the fuzzed out guitars crawl at a snail’s pace. Drums, sloppier at slower speeds, follow along as the band begins to gather itself for the descent into raw fury. Using double bass as a calling card here, the drums pound out the battle cry, guitars resetting themselves for the charge. It’s nearly two minutes before guttural vocals claw their way up from the diaphragm. The sheer length of the track, nearly five minutes, allows Lihhamon to explore not only slower pacing but also breaks that feature guitar work leaning away from death towards an outright doomy feel. As the bells ring out, the outro tunnels forth using a battering beat and an alternate version of the opening riff to drive the composition home. All in all it’s one of their most successful tracks.
The demo, entitled Iron Hands of Domination, sees Lihhamon bumping up their production value and veering off towards the more death metal aspects of their prior compositions. The tempo is chaotic, the screams more exasperated and the overall tone of the three original compositions more desperate than earlier works. Which, when you really sit down with it, is an exciting development as not all bands have the ability to hold up under pristine production conditions. It’s often that the muddied production masks inaccuracies and sloppiness that young bands tend to be plagued with. That’s absolutely not the case with Lihhamon.
The third track, “Ravenous Jaws” is a perfect example of this. Ripping your face off like a more focused version of Denouncement Pyre, the track is voracious. Layered vocals, deep growls, and reverb-laden screams intertwine across four minutes of machine-gun-like snare blasts and tank-like dissolves, the band hammering out their particular brand of death. Not surprisingly, the closing track is a cover of Black Witchery’s “Holocaustic Church Devastation,” revealing more than a modicum of their influence.
Finally, also released this year, as I mentioned if you were paying attention (and Mazel Tov if you were) is a split with I I via Ván records. For that split, Lihhamon contributed three tracks, all of which are new compositions and previously unreleased. For this split, Lihhamon has rolled back production value to something more closely befitting a band of their particular blackened death variety. Blasts predominate behind the characteristic layered vocals provided on all previous releases. The split provides some of their most compelling work using counterbalance to near perfection as blasts alternate with technically proficient drum fills and brief moments of quite straight-ahead old school death.
Label: Ván Records.
“Chasma,” the final track, is a throwback to their 2016 style. The snare is tightened up, the guitars are chaotic and the vocals counterbalancing themselves between stomach driven growls and much higher toned barks. The track not only looks backwards but also, as is the 2017 Lihhamon style, has plenty of length giving the band room to allow the composition to breathe, even using clean, layered choir vocals at one point. In fact, somewhere around the midpoint the track breaks down into near free metal until the drums affect a tribal style calling the troops back to their main point: furiously blasting the fuck out of your ear drums.
Lihhamon are a band that has shown a surprising breadth of ability in what can be a very limiting genre. It’s been quite a year for the boys seeing their entire discography essentially being released within a few months. Their use of balance, ripping blast beats and enticing riffs makes for a quite enjoyable listen. Their later catalog (the demo and split) are perhaps the more compositionally mature look but plenty of fans will reach into their earlier work for the unadulterated raw fury of it all. Regardless, Lihhamon certainly has something for fans of the more bestial side of metal.