Lightning Born – Lightning Born (2019)


Raleigh, NC metal band Lightning Born, featuring bassist Mike Dean (Corrosion of Conformity), vocalist Brenna Leath (The Hell No), drummer Doza Hawes (Mega Colossus, ex-Bloody Hammers; ex-Hour of 13) and guitarist Erik Sugg (Demon Eye) will release its debut album Lightning Born this June.

A first taste of Lightning Born’s flash can be experienced now over at Revolver with the album’s lead track and first music video, ‘Shifting Winds. “Taking cues from genre forebears Black Sabbath, the sludgy track ambles through several leaden, downtempo riffs before vocalist Brenna Leath’s haunting wail enters with a tale of fiery destruction and rebirth.” The animated clip was created by artist Costin Chioreanu for Twilight13 Media (Ghost, Darkthrone, Triptykon). Stream and share new song ‘Shifting Wind’ –

Formed in 2016, Lightning Born plays heirloom doom metal forged by previous generations and full of practiced rawness, washed out and sandblasted with layers of fuzz. The band’s sound is based in an offshoot blues language, gently mournful, that descends into iconic gloom, buttressed by the commanding vocals of Leath, whose lyrical landscape aerates themes of revolution, mortality, brotherhood, consequence, colonization, nihilism, oppression, and revolution.

As to Lightning Born’s formation, Dean explains, “I share a studio, where we have done most of the work on the last several Corrosion of Conformity records. I traded some studio time for a 2” analog tape machine and started making records with local musicians. One of those was Brenna Leath, whose voice and songwriting blew me away when she came in with her punk band, The Hell No.”

“On another occasion I had the opportunity to work with an accomplished retro doom/proto-metal band called Demon Eye. They recorded an album called Prophecies and Lies with me. Singer and guitarist Erik Sugg mentioned that he and Brenna were teaming up on some new material with a drummer namer “Dozer” or “Dosa”, something like that. It turns out to was Doza Hawes whose main gig, outside of writing robotics manuals, was playing over the top Iron Maiden style drums in Mega Colossus. My impression was that this would be a retro alternate universe aesthetic and I was excited. They mentioned they needed a bass player and I must have invited myself to try out. We made recordings on the run, after work, and between tours. Eventually we had a record, and we are, Ripple Music recording artists.”

My impressions:

Paying homage to the ‘70s sound is a dangerous path to tread. Bands that choose this journey do so at some risk, as if it is done without conviction, the music sounds hollow. I approached this album with some trepidation, as many bands who have attempted this sound didn’t do it justice and that this is not my usual genre to which to listen.

“Shifting Winds” opens with a repetitive riff and a well woven bass line. The vocals are strong, rich and impressive, with dynamic range and clarity. This establishes the template for the album – smooth delivery of an engaging sound that feels Ike the ‘70s. The guitar solos are period correct and superbly played.

“Renegade” is groovy and clear and the harmony between he vocals and the guitars is a standout. It’s a track about knowing who you are and for fighting for your beliefs.

“Silence” is another groovy offering, where the vocals are relaxed, but powerful. They morph from restrained to wailing and are quite sensational. The guitar riffs are expertly crafted and the arrangement had me nodding.

“You Have Been Warned” is a change of pace, but is ominous in nature, with the track being threatening. The different pace is again welcome, adding diversity and interest to the record thus far. The percussion is the element that shines through on this track. It’s simple, but grabbed my attention.

“Salvation” is a track of more fuzz, less fat. Terrific guitar riffs are augmented by a killer guitar solo. The tempo change in the middle of the track borders on the esoteric and the vocals are again intense.

“Magnetic” opens with great percussion and continues the theme of the record. It’s similar in tone and texture, but different.

“Out for Blood” changes the pace a bit and the lyrics grab your attention, like, “My devils nipping at my  heels.” We’ve all got a few of those… It’s a melodic metal track that is driven and determined.

“Power Struggle” features muted riffs at its opening and is about self-belief and sticking to your principles. The slower tempo change in the middle of the track adds weight to the experience, then it ramps back up again.

“Oblivion” has an intense depth of sound and the arrangement features a slower pace and more effects. These are appropriate to the theme of being dragged down into oblivion.

“Wildfire” features a faster opening and it burns brightly through the track. It feels like a wildfire burning out of control for its duration. Clever.

“Godless” is the last track and at 7 minutes, I steeled myself for some self-indulgent nonsense. It starts scratchy and reminded me of a malfunctioning machine. It has a slow, elegant riff, with badass bass beats. Throughout its duration it slows to melodic heavy jazz, then leaps forward into metal madness. It’s engaging and cathartic in nature, with enough variation and epic sound to justify its length. The track, with its fuzzed ending, is a terrific way to end the album.

The records that I have heard recently have been complex, emotional roller coaster journeys. To hear honest, powerful music certainly refreshed my auditory palate considerably. It’s a band that is making really great music, without the angst.

You can argue that the ‘70s vibe has been done before and to reproduce it borders on being lazy. Not in this case. Whilst the sound is strongly influenced by Black Sabbath or Deep Purple, Lightning Storm have added their own brand of high voltage.

The vocals are strong, confident and seemingly effortless. The endings of each track often feature some sort of feedback or wind-down that isn’t hackneyed – it’s cool. There are elements of musical interest sprinkled through the album. I often heard an effect, sound or feature of an instrument that pricked my ears.

With every album I hear, I wonder where I would listen to it. For this album, the answer is, “Everywhere!” It’s a foot tapping, head nodding experience that you often find yourself getting lost in. It’s like that blanket, jumper, jeans or pair of shoes that you’ve had forever – reliable, comfortable and suitable for any mood.

If you like this genre, you’ll love this record.


Review by Greg Noble

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