Lubricant - Swallow ThisOne of death metal’s weirdest phenomenon was the so-called “death ‘n’ roll” movement. First popularized by albums like Entombed’s Wolverine Blues and Carcass’s Swansong, death ‘n’ roll is kind of like your weird older cousin at the family reunion. On one hand, you have to love him because he’s family — but at the same time, nobody really talks about him or seems to be totally comfortable in his presence. Point is, death ‘n’ roll is one of those genres that most people seem to tolerate rather than actually enjoy, and maybe that’s why bands like Lubricant are so often overlooked.

Formed in 1988 as O.V.D., the Finnish quartet changed their name to Lubricant in 1990, switching from speed metal to a rockier version of early Carcass in the process. Sadly, the group disbanded before internet bloggers ever had a chance to make jokes about their sexually suggestive moniker, leaving in their wake only a handful of demos and 1993’s Nookleptia EP. After reforming and rejoining the live circuit in 2015, Lubricant are now releasing Swallow This to herald their comeback.

“Ooh!” I said upon first seeing the promo listing. “A long-awaited full-length by an obscure death/rock hybrid?” Unfortunately, no. Instead, Swallow This is a compilation of the band’s Swallow the Symmetric Swab demo and the aforementioned Nookleptia EP, remastered to recapture the “dust and venom” of the group’s original vision. The good news? The material is quite enjoyable and cohesive enough that, had I not known better, I may have figured this was a long lost full-length anyway.

Opener “Telesyphilis of Exfetation” showcases much of what you’ll hear over Swallow’s 41 minutes: bouncy riffs, constipated-Muppet vocals, scattered blastbeats, and a big, fat, warm guitar tone that wouldn’t be out of place on a Kyuss album. As is obvious with song titles like “Pulpectomy” and “Expulsive Gastroscopia,” the most obvious influence is Symphonies-era Carcass, with the menace turned down and the swagger turned way up. Take second track “Paralysis Bulbaris,” which continues with a loping gait of a riff before repeatedly hitting a wonked-out note in a way that, again, sounds like a stoner rock band.

As Swallow continues, it becomes more and more clear that Lubricant are actually less of a death n’ roll act and more just a death metal band that know how to write catchy songs and really good riffs. While many of these 11 tracks waltz along at a mid-paced tempo, the guitars are brimming with momentum and energy in a way that “darker” death metal bands seem to lack. The result is a fun, shuffling feel that —although a tad monotonous by record’s end – is punctuated by enough off-the-wall moments to keep things entertaining. Take “Inflammatorius Pulmonectomia,” which breaks its start-stop rhythm with an effect that literally sounds like a Donald Duck quack. It’s bizarre, and yet somehow feels amazingly catchy in context.

Lubricant 2017

As the final six tracks belong to the Nookleptia EP, the rock influence increases toward the end, which actually makes Swallow more intriguing as it progresses. “Declaration of Gallopping Consumption” begins with a shout of “Oh yeah!” and a shameless hard rock riff — albeit a quick and complex one — while “Thrombose” hits some chords which recall early doom like Paradise Lost before incorporating some far-off, smooth clean vocals.

There are moments when it’s apparent the demo tracks were probably remastered from a rough production job, but in all the sound on Swallow is warm, powerful, and surprisingly clear, accentuating the buzzy guitars and seamlessly integrating the source material into a cohesive package. While a bit more solos or balls-out rocking riffs would have been fun — not unlike what country-mates Xysma did with their Beach Boys-inspired First & Magical — in all Swallow represents an interesting and enjoyable romp through the work of a band who played what was largely one of death metal’s evolutionary dead-ends. I can only hope we’ll be seeing new material from Lubricant in the future. If nothing else, this compilation certainly makes me feel greased up and ready for these Finns to satisfy me with a proper… full-length.1

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Svart Records
Releases Worldwide: March 10th, 2017

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  1. What, you thought I was going to go this whole review without grabbing that low-hanging fruit?
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  • André Snyde Lopes

    Swallow This Review? Is this what they call verbal assault?

  • GardensTale

    Not bad! Reminds me of Beyond the Sixth Seal, whose album “The Resurrection of Everything Tough” I enjoyed a lot.

    Hmm… I should check up on whatever happened to those guys…

  • Steve Critchley

    Love this band have the original demo and ep. Be interested to hear the remastered versions.

  • Treble Yell

    Gonna need some lubricant to swallow this review.

  • Treble Yell

    Based on the embedded track I’m really liking what I hear. Reminds me of The Mark of Cain in some ways, at least the guitars.

  • Bas

    The vocals remind me more of that ‘death’n’roll’ album by Gorefest.
    I love Wolverine Blues.
    This is not bad at all.

  • Tyr

    Death & Roll….like ice cream and bacon.
    I blame Entombed for the birth of this abomination.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Each one awesome on it’s own… doesn’t mean they improve when mixed together.

    • gus rodrigues

      I really love Wolverine Blues. In my humble opinion it is their best album. When done properly I really like death & roll. Interestingly, it seems I am getting quite bored by listening to most of the recent “plain” death metal releases (notable exclusions are the new Immolation and Hour of Penance).

      • Tyr

        New Immolation destroys all. :D
        Have to disagree about Entombed. Clandestine was their peak imo.

        • contenderizer

          And I’ll be the boring casual who reps for LHP.

          • Tyr

            They had two good albums LHP and Clan.
            Wtf ever convinced them death and roll was a good career move is, to this day beyond me.

          • gus rodrigues

            we will agree to disagree!!! just to make sure I wasn`t recalling my opinions from teenage years I listened to their first 3 albums back to back. Left hand path: excellent debut (if I can call it a debut), almost agree with contenderizer; clandestine: lost the steam and the terror undertones of their debut, do not like the guitar tone, in my opinion the worst of their first 3 albuns but a must buy nonetheless; wolverine blues: album full of charisma and aggression, despite losing the speed of their previous efforts. unfortunately, after WB their records have been mostly miss than hit.

          • Tyr

            I’ve always felt as if Clan was their most atmospheric. The middle section of Sinners Bleed for example.
            I guess I’ll always see them as the band that never found their way back. The most recent “reunion” if you can even call it that had my hopes SO high….then nothing. No album, no further shows. Just one effin disappointment after another. I agree with many others. At this point LG is the true bearer and deserves the name.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Death & roll is the most difficult genre of Metal to pull off. Death & roll done well is a thing of beauty. But if done even slightly off, it fucking sucks.
        24 years after “Wolverine Blues” death & rollers still haven’t got their formulas right as to what works and what doesn’t and we’re still getting hit (few) or miss (most) releases.

  • Wilhelm

    Expecting the worst after the aging hipster photo but this death n roll has plenty of hyper blast beats and great vocals. It reminds me a bit of Gorefest, sounds fucking great.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Are there hipsters in Finland? How do they survive winter?

      • Tero Järvensivu

        All hipsters here in Finland will hibernate as soon as temperature hits under zero!!

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Isn’t that like 11 months of the year? ;)

    • Name’s Dalton

      Sorry but these are about the least hipster looking dudes I’ve seen in some time.

    • Tero Järvensivu

      You are right, we are old farts ;) And thanks for kind words!!!!

  • mtlman1990

    Blackened Beach Boys

  • contenderizer

    Pretty good! Don’t often like death ‘n’ roll (black ‘n’ roll works much better), but I enjoyed the linked track.

  • I didn’t like Swansong or anything post Clandestine from Entombed, but the embedded track is pretty damn good. It does have some rockier sort of riffs, but still somehow manages to retain its death metalness. Nice guitar tone too.

  • Andrew Rowland

    Is that Sid Meier?

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    It must be really sad when you work your ass off to release your album and then all everyone talks about is Entombed.

  • Phil Daly

    Always had a soft spot for these guys and Xysma way back when, as they were a nice quirky counterpoint to a sea of seriousness, so may have to get this. Cover art is a nice callback as well, with a nice little twist of deeper meaning.