Sound — 8
With an eager and unabashed reverence for the golden era of thrash metal, Lost Society's reason has been to help write a new chapter of thrash metal, likely because they got too tired listening to "Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!" every night on repeat. Their first shot of writing that new chapter, 2013's "Fast Loud Death," was much like writing fan-fiction - it not only emulated the classic tropes of the genre down to a tee, but it shamelessly relished in revamping that aesthetic, from the jovially macabre album art, the "get drunk and headbang" lyric matter, to the songwriting that was blisteringly fast and concise. As simple as genre love letters go, it garnered substantial buzz, and Lost Society's prompt follow-up album, 2014's "Terror Hungry," showed the band getting more serious in their emulation - if the first album was thrash fan-fiction, the second album was an application to be the next ones to carry the torch of thrash.
Growing seriousness notwithstanding, Lost Society's mentality towards creating their thrash sound in their previous albums was as stark as could be - upbeat riffs, wicked solos, and anything else that keeps their needle in the red zone. In their third album, "Braindead," Lost Society expand their songwriting mainly by exploring the capabilities of composing in lower gears. This not only helps a number of songs stand notably apart from the band's previous catalog, but those main moments of reservation help accentuate moments of higher energy - like the morose marathon of "Only (My) Death Is Certain" whipping into a faster 3/4 riff in the bridge, and the slow-going likes of "I Am the Antidote" boasting a 90-second guitar solo that increases in skill with each increment. And with a number of songs employing dark and doomy guitar melodies ("I Am the Antidote," "Mad Torture," "Only (My) Death Is Certain"), the band switch from banking on the visceral-hitting power of a riff for the subcortical-scratching power of a melody - which, by thrash standards, parallels to the ominous vibe Megadeth brought forth in "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?"
Lost Society also opt to mix things up in "Braindead" by taking one foot out of their thrash home-range and into an adjacent genre acre. "P.S.T.88," cover on Pantera's song from their 1988 album "Power Metal," clearly fits in the hair metal category - with its steady plodding rhythms and cleaner vocals - and though "Riot" as a whole is too harsh to be compared to Mötley Crüe, its guitar solo has a Mick Mars swagger to it. In an odd instance, the chorus of "Only (My) Death Is Certain" uses a singalong vocal melody treads in a power metal territory, and even more unexpected is the '70s-rock redux of "Terror Hungry (California Easy Listening Version)," but though a rework of one of their old songs reads like an unambitious effort on paper, it significantly differs from its original form, being yet another song on the album that prioritizes melody over raw riffage. Lost Society still bring forth that aforementioned raw riffage in the fleeting thrash cuts of "Rage Me Up" and "Hangover Activator," although with all things considered, the characteristics of these feel a bit too familiar - especially in the latter song, where its pre-chorus/chorus progressions and vocals, as well as the dueling guitar solo, rings similar to the "Terror Hungry" song "Game Over."
Lyrics — 6
Lost Society's lyrical themes have gone hand in hand with the tribute-paying mentality of their music - mostly being recollections or self-aware instructions of getting wasted and rocking out to their own music - but "Braindead" starts showing more lyrical bouts that invoke severity. With the grim album art being an indicator, several songs throughout the album draw a loose concept of a man in captivity, caused by either the self-destructive, schizophrenic portrayal in "I Am the Antidote" ("You burned yourself down to the ground / Just know that I am the antidote") or the dissentious display of "Riot" ("Enough's enough, we're living in delusion / It's time, it's time for revolution"), who is subject to torture in the upfront "Mad Torture," and expands on his weathered sanity as a result in "Hollow Eyes" ("Nothing can save me, nothing can break me / I've already perished behind my hollow eyes"), and finally calls back to the aspect of insanity stemming from schizophrenia in "Only (My) Death Is Certain" ("I've been fading away, creating my own disaster / Drowning and sleeping my dreams are my grave").
While this severe, connecting theme pairs well with the darker, moodier compositions of "Braindead," other lyrics that aren't connected to this theme are still wading in Lost Society's old realm of party-hard lyrics, heard in the alcohol-soaked "Hangover Activator" and the sexual debauchery of "P.S.T.88." Not only does this clash with the primary lyrical tone the band tries to set in the album, but by comparison of lyrical substance, it holds the band back from the progress that they want to make lyrically.
Overall Impression — 7
For a young band that rose to fame early after their debut, it's easy for said band to stick to the formula they know well to wring as much success out of it as they can - this goes doubly so for a band whose formula emulates the legendary likes of the past. Lost Society's initiative to start deviating from their expected output is a sign of growth, and although some of the familiar aspects in the album come off like stubborn moments stifling that goal, the change in songwriting mentality that "Braindead" showcases is a necessary thing to keep Lost Society from being a thrashing one-trick pony.