Today I’ve been given the opportunity to review Misanthropic Breed by LIK. The recording and guitar tones are great – far better than I would expect for a small, independent band like this. As I continue to… sorry, my editor has handed me something here. Oh, apparently LIK is not an independent band and Metal Blade Records put this out. My bad. But still, this is a solid label debut for a young band like this working towards distinguishing their sound. The music is… wait, my editor is handing me another note. So, this is their third full length and they’ve been together since 2014? Well, shit.
Honestly, upon first listen, I did believe this was a well-produced indie death metal release due to the overtly generic artwork with rising corpses and the ridiculously cliche song titles like “Morbid Fascination”, “Funeral Anthem”, and “Faces of Death”. Thinking they were independent actually got me more into them. I had imagined a young band just getting their sea legs after exploring the catalogs of Entombed, Grave, or other icons of the Swedish death scene that would grow into their own sound. Knowing that this sound is what they’ve honed after six years actually kind of disappoints me.
Don’t mistake me for saying they are a bad band; the musicianship and the quality of songwriting is there, but they don’t have that “je ne sai quoi” to distinguish them in a sea of death metal acts. I’m kind of a picky bitch when it comes to death metal and I know that, and my issue with this release is that it all seems so pedestrian. This sounds to me like almost any local band going through the checklist of “How to perform death metal 101” but with the backing for a quality recording and a bit more writing experience. Yeah, they have riffs and solos, but they certainly ain’t reinventing the wheel here. Which, for die-hard death metal fans can be a blessing; sometimes, you don’t want a band to stray too far from the formula.
That being said, if death metal is your bag, that I’m sure you’ll enjoy this album as it is a lot of fun with its straight-ahead “all go, no slow” pacing, it’s ability to stay true to the path of old school Swedish death metal, and it’s hints to classic horror in the moodiness of the title track or the outro to “Morbid Fascination”. For me, it sticks so close to a musical formula without innovation or a hook to be able to sink my teeth into it, making its reasonable 40-minute playtime seem to just drag on. Heck, it’s so close to the formula that in comparing it to their last album Carnage, the only difference I hear is a warmer, fuller sounding recording on Misanthropic Breed. Perhaps in the future, they’ll write their own chapter in the sound of Scandinavian metal and find a way to stand out from their contemporaries, but until then, I see them as a band that may be easily forgotten by time.
Written by Ted Berger
*Edited by Dominic Abate