Lik – Misanthropic Breed Review

Critic-bait comes in two forms: pretension and novelty. Critics are often a special mixture of jaded and self-important, so something that appeals to an inflated sense of one’s own intelligence or to that jaded sensibility which dismisses the familiar reflexively, respectively, is what sets the critical heart aflutter. Lik is not critic-bait, but they’ve got this particular critic hook, line, and sinker. Their prior two records Mass Funeral Evocation and Carnage ruled, taking the basics of Swe-death and doing something fun and memorable with them. People like good songs, and Lik has set out to write good songs. Misanthropic Breed follows happily in the footsteps of its predecessors, showing some signs of growth that can only come from a band playing together for years. If you Liked the last Lik records, you’ll Like the new Lik.

Misanthropic Breed once again embraces the Dismember vein of Swe-death played with the fanboy enthusiasm of early Bloodbath, focusing on crafting death metal with big riffs and soaring melodies and harmonies reminiscent of classic metal. 1 While ostensibly an HM-2 laden, guitar-driven record, Misanthropic Breed sees professional and creative performances from every musician, with a massive bass tone that adds real heft and drums which seem intent on punching you through the speakers. I’m enamoured with the production here, as it’s near perfection for the genre. Dismember-style Swe-death isn’t new, but neither are mozzarella sticks – who in their right mind would turn down a delicious, steaming plate of those? Such is my take on the “lack of originality” possessed by Lik.

The casual listen to Misanthropic Breed yields good results. The riffs are uniformly killer, and the melodies sound, to me, better than ever. More and closer listens reveal honed songwriting skills and a sense of band chemistry that manifest themselves in little details, be they well-placed pauses, perfect fills, or the preponderance of vocal hooks akin to those in “The Deranged” from Carnage. The vocals being well-enunciated and understandable drive the hook of “Morbid Fascination” home, and the little pause before the chorus kicks in with a vocal hit is a small detail that elevates the song in a big way. The leads have also gotten better, as Lik has effectively reverse-engineered the seamless transitions of “Override of the Overture” and flavored the result to taste, bringing to bear their clear enjoyment of the literal decades of Swe-death that preceded their 2014 formation. The midsection of “Corrosive Survival” sees the outbreak of a riff that a dyed-in-the-wool headbanger could picture easily on Clandestine or Left Hand Path, but it’s no mere rip-off; it’s a rival.

This is what makes the “lack of originality” in Lik’s music not just excusable but commendable. They want to play Swe-death right, and they’ve had the opportunity to hear myriad examples of it done well. The cover of Carnage suggested a familiarity with Ekeroth’s indispensable Swedish Death Metal tome, and the music there, as here, leaves no doubt of it. The horror theme motif of the title track, a brief instrumental, immediately conjures up images of filmic zombies and practical effects before the pitch-perfect continuation of late-career Dismember in “Flesh Frenzy” roundhouse kicks the listener for two-and-one-half minutes. The midsection break of “Wolves” brings some Vomitory circa Opus Mortis VIII into the sound, the bass hitting just the right notes to give it that Slayer-esque heaviness. Misanthropic Breed is just so much fun, and it’s like this because, like Bloodbath before them, Lik are not just playing but celebrating those riffs, tropes, melodies, and ideas of Swe-death that excite them. It just so happens they have great taste, or at least taste which aligns largely with mine.

Misanthropic Breed concludes with a crossover between Left Hand Path and Like an Everflowing Stream in the form of “Becoming.” The Entombed-isms at the beginning are great, but the conclusion is where the song really shines. The record ends with one of those melodies that could have gone on twice as long without issue, and there’s a real sense of finality to the record. Those who spring for the bonus track get a wonderful epilogue via “Revel in Gore” which, by some excellent stroke of poetic justice, sees Dismember vocalist Matti Karki shredding his vocal cords over some taut, aggressive riffing. It’s perfectly placed, because after the thirty-nine minutes of standout death metal I couldn’t help but think that Lik earned this. Three albums in, Lik remains a vital force in contemporary Swe-death, comfortably in the upper echelons of the style.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 25th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. This is something Dismember did most noticeably in their later career, but also in their early material. While Entombed took great influence from crust punk and horror themes, Dismember added to the mix clear influence from Angel Witch, Judas Priest, and Mercyful Fate. “Override of the Overture” is the obvious example, but “In Death’s Sleep” is pretty clear to my ears as well.
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