There is a tendency for us Europeans and shall we also say Stateside extreme metal aficionados to think that music arriving from South America, Oceania and Asia to view it as merely copying said established Euro and US counterparts which if you’ve been into music as long as I have is quite often the wrong way round. Lo! Hail from Sydney and play a brand of music that is tough to define but very easy to listen to and begins with the eerie sauntering piano of “As Above”. The gentle build up and escalation of guitar and drums is just downright creepy as the opening instrumental tune sets the path for “Blood Vultures” to attack like the said avian scavengers with no emotion but palpable denigrating aggression.
Remember the term mathcore and even noise rock, yep you do because you’re now thinking oh shit I hate that music, its too chaotic, dissonant never seems to stay on track, well mathcore is relevant only in so far as the Converge links to the hooks and riffs. The noise angle comes from the acid spitting vocals of Jamie-Leigh Smith which if you take a look at the rather disturbing promo shots of the band members there are some seriously warped minds at work here. As you hit “Ghost Promenade” the music switches slightly to a more post hardcore slant as I was reminded of latter day slower Coliseum material but there is no escaping the Converge fixes and even the likes of Cult Of Luna.
Listening to music like this is slightly easier than watching the bands play as you never know where the hell to look on stage and here your ears will be pulled multi directionally towards all the instruments and vocals as each assaults the listener in a sonic avalanche. Now instrumental ditty “Haven, Beneath Weeping Willows” had me drumming my fingers, wanting to stand in a corner and flick a coin in the air whilst chewing baccy and spitting as I couldn’t get spaghetti western out of my head throughout its duration. I’m not saying it’s got a ton of trumpets or anything like that; just the atmosphere of the song had me hooked. It’s back to shouting while billowing hot acid on “Fallen Leaves” and here there is a tangible The Ocean reference, not too unsurprising I guess but its there nonetheless as the riff shifts have a Burst quality about them.
This is a very dark album of music made all the more dread like with the off kilter rhythms and melodies as on “Lichtenberg Figures” which really does possess hardcore fury and almost a blast in the drumming. Percussively this is as impressive as it comes with the work done by Adrian being smooth and aggressive equally without resorting to unnecessary fills; the gentle cymbal tapping is sinister enough to make your skin crawl.
In summary this is definitely an album for the adventurous amongst you, those unafraid of an auditory challenge or two as “So Below (Before We Disappear)” the closing tune will certainly do that. For fans of Converge, Cult Of Luna, Burst and The Ocean, Lo! has indeed released a history of monsters and as with all Pelagic releases it will be out on limited specialist edition and I can assure you that after ordering from Pelagic myself the products you get are truly unique, especially the vinyl versions.
(8/10 Martin Harris)