Martin Eric Ain (1967–2017) RIP

I felt so sad today learning of the untimely and sudden death yesterday of Martin Eric Ain, the former bassist of Celtic Frost and Hellhammer. He was only 50 years old, and reportedly died of a heart attack.

Celtic Frost were arguably the first metal band that I really got into as a teenager. Every time I visited a record store I would always, always look for something from Celtic Frost. In part to try to find something rare (I never did), but in part to determine the quality of the store: if they had any Celtic Frost albums then I judged it to be a good store.

Twenty-two years after getting into them, I finally got to see Celtic Frost play live in Glasgow in 2007, they were co-headlining with Kreator. It was a year before they split up again. That was one of the most memorable concerts that I’ve been to. It was an event.

I feel honoured to have seen Ain play live, to have seen Celtic Frost play live.

There was clearly a complex relationship between Tom G Warrior and Martin Eric Ain through the years. A push-pull relationship. Something that came up again recently in a post on Thomas Gabriel Fischer’s blog, “Mammon’s inexorable temptation” where he lamented what Ain was doing with Celtic Frost’s heritage, selling off old kit on a Facebook page.

I was sad when Celtic Frost ended. Monotheist was a brutal album. It was very different from their 80s albums—it was more raw, darker, more nihilistic. And it didn’t feature their famous sounds-like-a-vacuum-cleaner guitar tone. I was hoping for more new music.

No new music ever came from the Fischer/Ain partnership, although I have loved what Thomas Gabriel Fischer went on to create with Triptykon.

Rest in peace Martin.

Lair of the Minotaur—Evil Power (2010)

Lair of the Minotaur—Evil Power (2010)

Lair of the Minotaur—Evil Power (2010)

Details

Recorded January 2010 at Semaphore Studios in Chicago, Illinois by Sanford Parker. Mixed by Sanford Parker and Steve Rathbone / Mastered by Scott Hull (from Pig Destroyer). Released on 13 April 2010 on The Grind-House Records.

Band

  • Chris Wozniak — Drums / backing vocals
  • Nate Olp — Bass / backing vocals
  • Steve Rathbone — Guitar / vocals

Tracks

  1. Attack the gods
  2. Let’s kill these motherfuckers
  3. Riders of skullhammer, we ride the night
  4. Evil power
  5. Goatstorm
  6. Hunt and devour
  7. Metal titans
  8. Blood from the witch’s vein
  9. We are Hades
  10. Death march of the conquerors
  11. The violent iron age of man

Review

My intention had been to review Halifax’s finest doom metal band Paradise Lost’s 2007 album In Requiem. But then I started to listen to this, Lair of the Minotaur‘s fourth full-length album Evil Power and all that changed.

I really like this album.

It reminds me in equal parts of early and late Celtic Frost, early Slayer, sludge/stoner metal champions Down and, rock legends Motörhead, and Dutch death metal band Gorefest. It also has that raw, exciting NWOBHM feel to it; if this had come out in 1981 then I’m certain this would have become a classic, like Iron Maiden’s debut album. I’m sure there are a million other influences in there but those are the five that I immediately relate to. Everything is a remix, huh!

LOTM’s sound is thick, loose, bassy and wonderfully heavy; vocals are gruff and throaty but clear.If ever there was a band who could be described as “doom thrash” then this is it. Oh, and more than a few war lyrics thrown in for good measure. But it doesn’t sound cheesy or contrived.

The album opens with, I presume, vocalist Steve Rathbone saying, “The Grind-House Records, January sixteenth two-thousand ten” before a guitar feeds back, the bass drum pounds into action and… RIFF!

Opening track “Attack the Gods” kicks off the album in the right direction and it doesn’t let up for the next 30 minutes and 28 seconds. Simple (but not simplistic) riffs twisting and turning, offering grooves and riffs, power and melody.

The vocals on “Let’s Kill These Motherfuckers” are the most like Tom G Warrior’s that I have ever heard, without sounding like he’s trying to emulate the Celtic Frost / Triptycon frontman. Of course, the riff helps too, sounding like it’s channeled through TGW’s trademark vacuum-cleaner emulator pedal!

“Riders of Skullhammer, We Right The Night” has a riff that bounces along the road to hell, a riff that I’m sure Lemmy is disappointed is already taken. That said, it also carries the feel of something from Slayer’s second album Hell Awaits.

The introduction to track 9 “We are Hades” certainly sounds most like something out of Lemmy’s back catalogue as the band as a whole chants a throaty “We are violence / We are decay / We are a plague of death / We are the end of days”.

Maybe their next album could open with “We are Lair of the Minotaur and we play rock ‘n’ roll!”

This is one heavy album, without going over the top about it. It certainly doesn’t feel contrived. Title track “Evil Power” opens with a wall of bass white noise before the guitars and drums join in with a riff that reminds of something from Gorefest’s last album Rise to Ruin.

And so the album continues with one heavy riff after the next. Every track is distinct. Every track has its own feel, its own nuances, its own twisted secrets. This isn’t an album where every song sounds the same. It sounds coherent.

Conclusion

This is a solid album. According to my Last.fm chart this is the artist I’ve played more than any other this month. 97 listens compared with 10 for Opeth, and I’ve already said on Twitter that if I had to listen to only one artist for the rest of my life it would be Opeth.

I love this album, and for me sits alongside Gorefest’s Rise to Ruin (2007) as a modern heavy metal classic.

I’m looking forward to their next offering. Their website says that LOTM are currently taking a break while Steve Rathbone “finishes getting his nerdy degree” but they will be back soon and are already working on “new battle hymns”. I can’t wait.

Review score: 95%

Bonus

The sound quality isn’t brilliant in this video, and it looks like it was filmed in sepia, but there is fabulous energy from the band. A shame that the stage was so small.