Lightning Bolt: Fantasy Empire

For more than twenty years, Brian Gibson and Brian Chippendale have been producing some of the most powerful music out there. Using the name Lightning Bolt, the dynamic duo has more than made a presence across several albums and many live shows. Simply put, Lightning Bolt is one of the most unique rock bands–sitting on the fence between outlandish noise and heavy metal. Now, after five years, the band is at it again, releasing a new album, Fantasy Empire. Like any other Lightning Bolt album, Fantasy Empire provides a series of intense songs that will leave you trembling with excitement.

In the traditional Lightning Bolt fashion, Chippendale and Gibson unleash a series of racing, vicious melodies –each moment is packed with adrenaline. Often, the songs in Fantasy Empire are built on top of themselves. The melodies are executed with more and more haste, sometime extra layers tossed in. Fantasy Empire is undeniably what Lightning Bolt fans have been asking for.

One of the most outstanding tracks is titled “Horsepower.” The main guitar line, distorted and heavy, combined with the thunderous sequence of drums and echoing vocals, just sounds so good. The entire song practically takes your over body, forcing you to move. Every break from the main melody is startling, throwing you off balance. Nearly five minutes pass, and you hardly realize it. “Horsepower” is a rollercoaster of a song, and it’s overwhelmingly awesome.

Fantasy Empire offers some other seriously good songs. “Dream Genie,” for instance, starts low and deep –bassy as hell. The drums are fast and seem to cascade. The guitar transitions between melodies and sounds –sometimes crystal clear, sometimes bassy, sometimes distorted as can be. The entire track is an experience. Another star of Fantasy Empire is titled, “Runaway Train.” Chippendale puts forward a constant rhythmic pounding on the drums. On Gibson’s end, we have an atmospheric guitar that sets things just right. Needles to say, the songs of Fantasy Empire are solid.

It would be unfair to let Fantasy Empire escape without criticism, and so the honest truth has to be said. Not every song is that amazing. Really, it all comes down to the second track. “Over The River And Through The Woods” is a disgrace. The melodies are a bit boring and too repetitious for what they are. Maybe the song could be enjoyable, but for how lengthy it is? –it’s just not acceptable. That much aside, there’s nothing too horrible in Lightning Bolt’s latest release, but older albums are definitely still arguably more memorable and much stronger in comparison. No matter how good a song may be on Fantasy Empire, they just seem to leave an insatiable desire for something more.

Even if Fantasy Empire isn’t Lightning Bolt’s masterpiece, it’s still a fantastic release from the duo. Each song is masterfully produced and really well written. As far as what people wanted, the band hit the nail on the head. Fantasy Empire is turbulent.

Overall, Fantasy Empire is just Lightning Bolt doing what Lightning Bolt does best. The band sets free something loud, gnarly, and nasty. Every strike of the drum, every note that howls out from the bass guitar –it’s deep, brutal, and almost primal. Whether this is your first time hearing of the band or you’re a long time fan, this isn’t something you want to miss. Fantasy Empire was worth the wait.

Rating: 8.0/10
Buy: iTunes