Lion Splicer is a bit of a strange name for a band. I spent most of my time listening to the album thinking about the name. Why on earth would anyone want to harm a lion? They are such docile, beautiful creatures. My cousin Marvin had one for a pet years back. They named him Cuddles and treated him just like one of the family. He used to let the thing run around family barbeques. My niece used to make him roll over and would pet his belly. He ran away when she was eight. She always blamed me because I left the backdoor open that fateful day. We haven’t spoken in years.
I couldn’t stop perseverating on the name so I ended up having to break up a perfectly good bit of ruminating by looking the name up. I found that the term “Lion Splicer” was used on a Mastodon album. Boy, did this take the wind out of my sails. I was hoping it was going to be some deeply arcane reference to Ovid’s Metamorphosis or something obscure and weird. However, Mastodon is a good place to start with these guys. They’ve got a bit of them in their swagger. Complex, winding arrangements that belch forth bile-ridden rage. If you’ve been listening to metal for the last seven years, chances are you know the formula.
The album itself is not too bad. I can’t say it’s the best thing I’ve heard in a while, but it has moments. The guitar work is well above average. The solo in the song “Slicer” is two steps short of brilliant. The record itself seeps molten energy. Violent and nasty. They seem like the type of band that could really incite a crowd into acts of vandalism and animal sacrifice under the right conditions.
The vocals are a touch on the grating side. Think Celtic Frost’s Thomas G Warrior, but without all of the charming “ughs” and “glurps”. The singing can be acceptable for a song or two, but difficult to enjoy for the entire course of an album. Their long departures into instrumental excess tend to be their best moments.
The record firmly falls into the category of “good stuff if you like this sort of stuff”. If you are the sort that is up at three o’clock in the morning trying to comb the internet for rumors of when the next Helloween album will be coming out, you probably aren’t going to need this record in your collection. However, I can guarantee you there is some guy sitting in his basement in Davenport, Iowa wearing a Melvins’ “Gluey Porch Treatment” tee-shirt, surrounded by empty cans of White Rock Black Cherry Soda and pictures of ferrets who has been waiting for this record all his life.