LOCK UP is a union of extreme music luminaries who have converged to create a musical beast that's both reflective of the individual members' main bands and meaningful enough to have its own distinct identity. It has been four years since the supergroup's last studio album, "Demonization", and the band's lineup has endured some shakeups since then; not necessarily in a bad way. Come the tail end of 2021, the mighty LOCK UP returns with "The Dregs Of Hades", a 14-track banger that is likely to find appeal from crust punks and grindcore fans all the way over to old-school death metalheads.
The death metal/grindcore juggernaut now boasts the talents of drummer Adam Jarvis (MISERY INDEX, PIG DESTROYER, SCOUR). This change is significant, considering the American replaces founding member and percussionist extraordinaire Nicholas Barker (BORSTAL, BRUJERIA, DIMMU BORGIR, etc). Jarvis is a hard-hitting powerhouse throughout "The Dregs Of Hades", but there's a certain finesse and fluidity of performance that's even next level for him on tracks like "Dark Force Of Conviction" and "Dead Legions".
Continuing to hold down the stringed instrument assault is longtime guitarist Anton Reisenegger (PENTAGRAM CHILE, CRIMINAL) and bassist Shane Embury (NAPALM DEATH, MEATHOOK SEED, VENOMOUS CONCEPT, etc.), both of whom also do time in BRUJERIA. The extensive laundry lists of the members' other projects is relevant because it underscores the fact that these busy musicians have come together to create a record that can stand against any extreme metal album released today, and nothing about this one sounds like it's from a "side project" band.
With "The Dregs of Hades", former vocalist Tomas Lindberg (AT THE GATES, DISFEAR) returns to accompany Kevin Sharp (BRUTAL TRUTH, VENOMOUS CONCEPT) who replaced Lindberg in 2014. The two revered frontmen complement one another extremely well, and the two-pronged vocal attack is nothing short of sheer madness. Both men employ their midrange voices, though Sharp utilizes his lower register growls more often to provide contrast to Lindberg's hardcore-esque shrieking. The tradeoffs are sometimes frequent and head-splitting, as with "Hell Will Plague The Ruins". And on songs like the title track, Lindberg is more present while Sharp violently chimes in as though he's adding exclamation points to the end of phrases.
As we would expect from such legendary extreme-music musicians, the album's songs stand apart from one another. "Black Illumination" peaks with a head-nodding, groove-laden breakdown that's almost instantly memorable. "Dead Legion" rides the fine line between both of the band's chosen worlds of death metal and grindcore. Elsewhere, "Nameless Death" builds up to a frenzy that's so volatile it sounds like the song is on the brink of literally exploding, while album closer "Crucifixion Of Distorted Existence" shows that the old-timers are as musically adventurous and ambitious as ever, channeling the spirits of NEUROSIS and even KILLING JOKE to an extent.
LOCK UP has proven over time that the band isn't just a side project. The international unit continues to be a collection of heavy metal heroes who coalesce to create a meaningful death metal / grindcore hybrid that's both timeless and forward thinking. They're still hungry. And by the sounds of "The Dregs of Hades", they won't be slowing down any time soon.