There are hundreds—if not thousands—of Black Metal bands in this cold, dark world of ours. Of those thousands, possibly a few hundred are considered to be quite good. Of that few hundred, maybe 75 to 90 are thought to be pretty great. And a handful of those “greats” happen to be the best the genre has to offer (and can be different as night and, well... darker night). There is no sun in this scenario. No brightness. No day. No light. That's the way it should be, anyway.
With Baphometic Chaosium, Los Angeles-based Black Metal band Lightning Swords Of Death have made a record that easily fits into the “quite good” category. It might even qualify as “pretty great” depending on the listener's preference. Historically, Black Metal's production has been low-fi, with more of an emphasis on capturing the raw and icy feeling of the music, rather than making sure the recording is perfect and/or as clean as possible. This is not always the case, as on Baphometic Chaosium. These days bands (or their engineers/producers) prefer to beef-up the production of Black Metal, resulting in a very crisp, in-your-face sound. Think modern day Behemoth. To be honest, either is fine by me. The music is what matters here. And Lightning Swords Of Death make good music.
Songs like 'Oaken Chrysalis', 'Acid Gate', and the title track are not only filled with speedy, blackened blast-beats, and catchy, yes, catchy, dark riffs, they are also successfully cohesive on the record. These songs—this record—rocks in a way that is different from most Black Metal. Maybe it's the L.A. connection, or maybe it's just a coincidence. Either way, it is quite good. Not terribly long, and not annoyingly short. Maybe it is pretty great; not just quite good. One of the best the genre has to offer? I guess time will tell. Pick it up and decide for yourself. Baphometic Chaosium is out now through Metal Blade Records.