Seasons in exile

Lysura bring black metal rituals back home

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Lysura perform Friday, May 2 at Blind Bob’s; photo: Luke Ryan; Dread Pirate Photography

For many musicians who grew up in the Gem City or honed their skills here in Dayton, eventually the time comes when a new environment becomes necessary. This can take the musicians’ lives and, often times, their music to a different level. However, that wasn’t the case for Max Otworth, guitarist and founding member of former Dayton-based black metal band Lysura, when roughly a year ago he left the Miami Valley behind for the bigger city vibe of Indianapolis, Ind.

“My move to Indy really didn’t have much to do with Lysura at all,” Otworth revealed in an email interview. “The original vision for the band was to be mainly a studio project, with rare shows here and there.”

Local performances by Lysura have indeed been rare, even when Otworth was still calling Dayton home. During the handful of years Lysura was still made up of Ohio-based musicians, the quartet recorded a four-song EP entitled Malignancy. As the EP’s title suggests, Malignancy is at times an ugly beast of a record, devoid of hope and absolution, yet at the same time infectious, with an abundance of searing, melodic guitar leads and inherent energy on display between its four members – which at the time featured Shaun Cothron (guitar), Jay Waller (bass) and Eric Barnes (drums). However, shortly following the release of Malignancy, Waller quit the band and Otworth put the band on hiatus as he picked up and moved to Indiana. Some time passed and Otworth and Cothron decided to bring Lysura out of the mothballs and give it another go, this time with new members Sam Jackson on bass and Brandon Howe on drums. The band soon began working on new material that built upon the solid, technically-proficient melodic black metal approach they excelled at in the past.

“We decided we wanted to start incorporating more old school death metal and doom influence into the band to counterbalance the constant ‘techy’ melodic sound of Malignancy, while still trying to stay true to the original feel of the band,” Otworth said. “With this goal in mind, we wrote and recorded a new demo, titled Irreverence, which we released in October of last year. It still has the same technical, melodic backbone as Malignancy, but offers much more depth, energy and atmosphere.”

With Jordan Smith replacing Cothron on guitar, this musical progression is indeed apparent on the Irreverence demo, as well as their new two-song EP, simply titled II, which has been available since April on the group’s Bandcamp page. Some of the songs are longer and take more time to develop, as Lysura cultivates a starker, colder, spookier and creepier musical atmosphere than ever before. The musical chops are definitely alive and well, and the quartet has no problem charging into hyper speed with guitar mangling and drum destruction that threatens to spin any section of a song into barely-controlled chaos.

The chillingly stunning musical results the reconstituted Lysura has achieved in such a short period of time has left Otworth very pleased with the current state of the band.
“The band has changed for the better in many ways with its current lineup,” Otworth said. “With the new lineup, we are able to craft an eerie, yet melodic, sound in the vein of Emperor or Dissection, melded with bluesy leads and melodies, as well as incorporating a heavy and at times droning/atmospheric sound more akin to classic doom and death metal bands of the early late ’80s and early ’90s. This gives us a sound that may sometimes sound reminiscent of our predecessors, but is combined in a way no other band before or since has ever attempted to pull off, to my knowledge.”
It’s one thing for a band to be able execute such hauntingly harsh and progressive sounds on tape, but can they recreate such a nuanced, sonic tapestry live? Otworth is confident Lysura has the personality, skill and intangibles to weave their adventurous black metal spells on stage, just as they do on disc. He aims to convert the unfamiliar to their heady style of metal with their upcoming tour of the Midwest and East Coast beginning with Lysura’s date at Blind Bob’s in Dayton on Friday, May 2.

“The main goal for the year is to get our music out to as many new ears as possible in preparation for the release of our full-length in 2015,” Otworth said. “Even though we are now an Indianapolis-based band, Dayton will always be my home. Blind Bob’s was always one of my favorite spots to play and hang out, and this show will feel like a homecoming for me and the band. Our live show is very focused around our personal chemistry. We create a very engrossing and dark atmosphere on stage to complement the sound of the music. The end result is a performance that is technically precise while also being very organic and emotional.”

Lysura will perform Friday, May 2, at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Also on the bill are Gnashing of Teeth, Faith Xtractor and Bath Salts. Admission is $5 at the door for patrons 21 and older. Doors at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit


Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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