Monday, January 4, 2016

Lycus : " Chasms"

Normally I am pretty protective of my funereal doom especially when the bands that excel at it can be counted on both hands. You might expect me to balk at the growth the Oakland band shows on this album which often defies the boundaries of my favorite sub-genre, but are undertaken so masterfully it's hard to complain. Where 2013's "Tempest" had a more mournful elegance the new slab of density from this band finds a more aggressive and raw rumble.The drums give them the thundering opener "Solar Chamber" more propulsion than the band found on the entire last album, just in the first nine minutes. Some of the shift in sonics are due to a line up changes with bassist Brett Tardiff and guitarist Dylan Burton joining the band.

 They return to the more moody introspection on the thirteen minute title track.The growls scrape the bottom of the ocean floor with their cryptic gurgles. The depressive sluggishness of the down tuned guitar doesn't sound like they are recycling ideas bands like Evoken have already pondered, but take influence from a wide range of corners and merge them with sometimes black metal like abrasion without having to resort to blast beats. The boiling under current of the drums foreshadows against the beauty that opens "Mirage". The production on this album is much more organic and warm than their first full length. They delve into a very spacious place allowing melodic atmospheric to unfold before constricting tighter until it implodes into black metal. The doom still prevails to the extent it would be an exaggeration to thrown the "blackened" tag onto this, though fans of black metal have reluctant to give doom a try will find enough inner ugliness to resonate with them. The role of the clean vocals has shifted into more of an atmospheric chant that sits back into the mix.

Three of the four songs are over ten minutes , but it's not a deal breaker for me here. I like enough doom that I am willing to overlook this if it is time spent wisely. "Obsidian Eyes" finds them droning in the overdriven melancholy. The melody is subtle on this one as it shimmers around the rough edges of the riffs. Midway into the song they allow these melodies more room to weep. The double bass begins to flow under the lurking chug. I'll give this one a 10 even though there is so much going on at every turn it's going to grow on me in order to take it all in . My inital thought is even though the changes that have come with their first album for Relapse seem to be sludgier guitar tone that takes some getting used to as a whole I think this will settle well into my brain with each listen.


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