Album Review: Dave Lombardo – Rites of Percussion


A drumming solo album isn’t something you see every day, especially from one of the most renowned metal percussionists. But as well-known as Dave Lombardo is for raging on kits for bands like Slayer and Testament, he’s versed in myriad styles. Rites of Percussion, his long-awaited solo debut, graphically showcases his diverse abilities. It’s a cryptic, image-inducing composition of bangs and rolls.

The instrumental journey begins with “Initiatory Madness,” a free-flowing swinger fit for tribal dances littered with suspenseful sections. For a metalhead that’s used to hearing Lombardo deliver pulverizing beats, this opener tells them they’re not in Kansas anymore. However, “Separation From the Sacred” marks the record’s first appearance of double bass. This is another gripping piece, setting the mood for plots thickening in a mystery caper. A wander through a bizarre temple follows in “Inner Sanctum,” generating visuals of monks tripping on psychedelics.

Lombardo demonstrates a funky, ’80s hip-hop mode in “Journey of the Host,” creating a hazy flashback of Grandmaster Flash pioneering a genre that would shake civilization’s booty. “Interfearium” is the darkest song on the 13-track full-length. Its slow-moving, creepy piano melody and howling synths act as a fitting score for a scene in a horror flick where someone’s nervously scouting a noise coming from upstairs.

“Blood Let” is a disturbing safari through an otherworldly jungle, simulating sounds of giant beasts and flying insects via deep pulsating tones and flickering cymbal hits. After “Warpath” seethes in tribal fury, “Guerrero” brings us back into the jungle. This time it’s mostly occupied by stampeding mammoths. The colorful epic concludes with “Animismo,” which is a tour through ghastly ancient pyramids containing sarcophagi of malevolent pharaohs.

Rites of Percussion is meditative, brimming with imagery, and gets the creative juices flowing. There are plenty of benefits from spinning Lombardo’s soundtrack of his percussive mind. It’s an exploration that was originally suggested to him by his Dead Cross and Fantômas bandmate Mike Patton in the late ’90s. The “Godfather of double bass” went all out for this expression of freedom, incorporating a plethora of instruments including bongos, maracas, a grand piano, and ibos. Not to mention it was mixed by his son who engineers sound for TV and movies. To sum up, expose yourself to a metal legend’s experimental side when Rites of Percussion releases on May 5th via Ipecac Recordings.

Buy the album here.

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