Lock Up – The Dregs of Hades Review

Lock Up is a cool band. The long-running supergroup collective, featuring a shuffling cast of characters, have been kicking out the filthy deathgrind jams since their barnstorming 1999 debut Pleasure Paves Sewers. Sophomore album Hate Breeds Suffering ruled as well. Despite a more haphazard and sporadic output in the years since those two gritty, unvarnished gems dropped, Lock Up continued to maintain relevance while adhering to their classic deathgrind template, warts and all. These dudes are old school and not concerned with reinventing the wheel or fucking around with bells, whistles or modern trends. Fifth LP The Dregs of Hades continues the band’s mission. Line-up wise, the legendary Nick Barker is no longer manning the kit, replaced by the well-credentialed Adam Jarvis (Misery Index, Pig Destroyer). Napalm Death’s Shane Embury, guitarist Anton Reisenegger (Criminal), vocalist Kevin Sharp (Venomous Concept, Brutal Truth) and returning vocalist Tomas Lindberg (At the Gates, Disfear, The Lurking Fear) complete a star-studded cast.

Otherwise it’s business as usual for the Lock Up crew. More refined and polished compared to their early works, Lock Up dish out their punky, no-frills deathgrind with precision, pissed off attitude, and tightly executed musicianship. Sharp and Lindberg tag-team vocal duties, meshing the past and present to solid effect. Despite the aging characteristics of the duo, they both supply strong performances of raw-throated brutality. Lindberg’s vocals sounded worse for wear on the recent At the Gates album, however, any war-torn vocal deficiencies are less bothersome amidst the noisy mayhem and manic assault. Overall, the dual vocal approach offers a fresh dynamic to the Lock Up sound, Lindberg’s tortured vox contrasting well against the distinctive growls and barks of Sharp.

The grind portion of their sound is as prevalent and potent as ever, creating a tsunami of sharp, lacerating riffs, scattershot drumming, and turbo-charged speed. Alive and kicking as a band for over twenty years, Lock Up admirably sound as violent and pissed off as ever, channeling their collective skills and experience into devastatingly brutal, concise nuggets. As par for course, Lock Up don’t fix what ain’t broke, setting a straightforward pathway to destruction. The Dregs of Hades continues the dependable streak of grinding mayhem and tough, battle-scarred tunes. The majority of songs get in, fuck shit up, and get the fuck out within a couple of minutes, abiding by classic grindcore rules of brevity. The pacing is relentless yet not entirely devoid of songwriting smarts and subtle dynamic shifts. Riffing is tight and explosive, the drumming of Jarvis excellent, while the dual vocal approach adds a dash of freshness to their steadfast formula.

Following an unnecessarily drawn-out, atmospheric opener, Lock Up cut to the chase. The Dregs of Hades careens from one rabidly savage cut to the next, jamming the pedal to the floor regularly, maintaining their trademark penchant for speed, speed and more speed. Engaging, catchy, if not wholly essential material, highlights an album of solid consistency. “Hell Will Plague the Ruins” jams hard with ferocity and violent intent, setting the standard of intensity, carried through other stellar cuts, such as the thrashy, old school grind and knuckle-dragging grooves of “Black illumination.” The formula does not deviate greatly, however, the strength of the writing elevates certain songs above the pack. “Misdirection Thief” sounds utterly vital and menacing, razor-sharp riffing and darkly melodic undercurrents coloring the frenetic assault. “Dead Legions,” punky, thrash-infused “Nameless Death” and groovy headbanger “Ashes” also get the job done with minimal fuss and cutthroat aggression. Closer “Crucifixion of Distorted Existence” mixes up the attack offering a deathly slow burn, steeped in ominous atmosphere and doomy heft.

Although a tidy 38 minutes, stricter editing would ideally pare this sucker down to an even leaner, meaner and higher quality album, with some monotony creeping in on the lesser tunes. Otherwise, The Dregs of Hades is an easy album to like and Lock Up show no signs of age or weariness, despite not tossing up anything overly exciting. I will always hold a special fondness for the rawer eruptions of their early work, however, Lock Up can still more than cut it with the young pups, executing another tautly constructed slab of extremity that keeps their solid track record intact without breaking any boundaries or reaching greater heights.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Listenable Records
Websites: listenablerecords.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/LockUpOfficial
Releases Worldwide: November 26th, 2021

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