Lightning Bolt – Oblivion Hunter


Artist: Lightning Bolt
Album: Oblivion Hunter
Label: Load Records
Rating: 8.3

For a band that has almost indecipherable lyrics, it’s kind of ironic that their band name, and album and song titles are all super sweet. Perhaps it’s not so much irony as it is they’re a band that just make the most out of what they do, and what they do is pretty straightforward: Loud, fast, and repetitive. Yet on their last album they tried something different and slowed things down a bit in effort to make things heavier, which they succeeded in doing. Their latest awesomely titled release Oblivion Hunter is a collection of rarities, but it’s basically a lost album from 2008. It harkens back a few years before the release of Earthly Delights when they were still in their psycho phase. They are raw four track cassette recordings that really capture the insane quality their music exudes.

I’ve reviewed demo recordings before which I’ve been frustrated with because I mainly don’t know what I’m listening to. Perhaps someone that doesn’t like noise rock or what Lightning Bolt does would have a similar reaction, but having just seen them live, I feel that Oblivion Hunter really does give a rare glimpse of this band while still actually sounding like a real album. I suppose technology has gotten better over the years or maybe they were just able to master it correctly, because I would not have guessed that this was recorded on a 4 track cassette. Some bands spend a lot of time trying to get a low-fi sound, but it appears low-fi noise which doesn’t sound like low-fi noise is something Lightning Bolt does well. “King Candy” a song that has made it into their live sets kicks off the album and it’s a monster. Chippendale says that he figures Brian Gibson must have had some blown gear on this recording because they haven’t been able to replicate the sound since. “Baron Wastland” and “Oblivion Balloon” continue the slaughter with some murderous bass licks. (I should really start thinking of non-killing type adjectives because it’s really furthering the stereotype that listening to this music makes people want to kill, when it fact it’s actually quite soothing.) “Fly Fucker Fly” and “Soft Spoken Spectre” (see what I mean about great titles?) are a couple differently paced tracks and well placed in the middle of the album before it gets back to “Salamander” which harkens back to early Lightning Bolt with Brian Gibson shredding some very fast licks, and then Chippendale repeating the riff with his drums. “World Wobbly Wide” is a 13 minute jam to end the album, and to be honest, it really does stretch the boundaries of “music”. It’s got a cool vibe to it, but it just keeps going and going, it really does feel like death, but hey when you’re hunting for oblivion do you really expect some cushy paradise?

Oblivion Hunter is apparently a placeholder album to tide people over until a new one will be released which apparently won’t be till next spring. It’s unlikely that if you’re a fan of noise rock, Lightning Bolt wouldn’t be on your radar, so in that case those people should give this a listen. If you’re on the fence and curious, I figure this album is as good an introduction to their music as any other.

-Michael Unger