Yes, it’s a cliché, and no, I don’t care if writing professors from here to hell say to avoid clichés at all cost, but Heinz was on to something… It has been six years since Lock Up’s last album, and three years since Kevin Sharp (Brutal Truth) replaced much-beloved vocalist Tomas Lindberg and very simply, good things come to those who wait.
Many bands formed by high-profile musicians from other high-profile bands will shun the moniker “supergroup” but there’s a reason that term is used. Great musicians from great bands all have at least two things in common: they know how to write a fucking song, and they know how to make a fucking album.
And Lock Up, as we have seen before and now see again, know how to make a fucking album.
I, like many, I’m sure, was disappointed to hear of Lindberg’s 2014 departure – in all fairness, he left for good reason; At the Gates had just released their first album in nearly twenty years, and he simply didn’t have the time to commit to both bands. Amicable as it was, member changes are always a bummer. But they are a cold, hard reality of the industry these days. As it becomes harder and harder to make anything close to a decent living playing music, musicians are forced to prioritize in ways they might not have had to back in the 80s or early 90s and we thank the departing member for their contribution, and welcome the newcomer with open arms and an open mind.
But Lock Up was never destined to be a full-time project for any of its members anyway. Originally formed by the ever-prolific Shane Embury, his (at the time) Napalm Death-mate Jesse Pintado (who, upon his sad passing in 2006, was replaced by Anton Reisenegger of Criminal), and Nicholas Barker, the 2017 version is just as furious and pissed off as they’ve ever been.
And even though Demonization (Listenable) is Lock Up’s fourth album, it has the immediacy, the excitement, the pure untainted aggression of a début. In fact, for this writer at least, it conjures many of the same emotions and holy mother of god moments as Zyklon’s debut World ov Worms (Candlelight) did way back in 2001.
There is no pretense with Demonization, just 14 songs absolutely merciless in their ferocity. And lest you be worried about that aforementioned change in vocalist, worry no more. Sharp’s voice is precisely that—a straight razor, with a touch of crust punk for flavor—and works so perfectly here.
How to choose highlights on an album this strong? ‘The Plague That Stalks the Darkness’, with its Blackened Death riffing that will make every guitar playing want to quit in envy? ‘Foul from the Pure’, which sounds almost as if it was lifted from the Words from the Exit Wound (Earache) sessions? ‘Demonization’, the sole track on the album that eases its foot off the gas for a bit, only to slowly crush your skull beneath its heavy-chained wheels?
I can’t choose.
Demonization as a whole is the highlight.
Welcome back, gentlemen.