2017 so far has been a fantastic year for long-running and well-regarded extreme metal groups proving they can continue kicking ass (Immolation, Obituary, Kreator, etc.), and we can add another group to that list: deathgrind super group Lock Up. Now, metal super groups tend to anything but, and the most successful ones are few and very far between. Too often, the cumulative talent exceeds the actual musical output. Originally formed as a side project of Napalm Death’s bassist Shane Embury, Lock Up has kept the spirit of grindcore alive, with a slightly more long-form death metal style and increased focus on militant riffing helping the band stamp out a legacy. Their latest record is the first with Brutal Truth’s Devin Sharp after Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates) had to leave to focus on his band’s reunion, and Sharp fits in rather nicely. In fact, Demonization is Lock Up’s strongest effort so far.
Honestly, Demonization does exactly what you would expect from a group of deathgrind veterans: brings the riffs, the furious tempos, and some blunt observations on the world. Anton Reisenegger (of Brujeria and Criminal fame) delivers some deliciously blazing guitar parts, giving the auditory assault some reference points to make songs stick out from one another. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Embury and drummer Nick Barker have been together through the band’s full run and have an immense chemistry together. It’s really nice to hear bass on a metal album, and Embury’s rumbling bass is excellent. Really, just about every song on this stellar release has something to get your neck muscles going. Even the death/doom of the title track offers a nice bit of an end-song chant. Also, pound for pound, “Mind Fight” and “The Decay Within the Abyss” might be two of the most furious metal tunes released this year, and they’re sure to make invisible oranges appear.
Ultimately, Demonization is Lock Up’s best work yet, with tighter songwriting, a nastier and more violent sound, and the confidence of members who certainly know what the Hell they’re doing. It’s sure to be one of the best extreme metal releases of 2017, and it’s certainly a masterclass in the style.