Locust Leaves have an “ecumenical vision of metal”, whatever that means. In fact when I read the following statement, I realised it was time to stop reading and start listening: “A voice, a final utterance of a vague, illogical, recurring consonant/vowel that can’t be pinpointed down or disambiguated with our science: ‘h’. This last utterance turns a fall into flight, and tragedy to myth”.
This album is certainly unusual. It’s frenetic, epic, black and mercifully falls short of regaling us with mediaeval instruments. There is a certain mysticism of eastern proportions. Locust Leaves are from Greece and mix spirituality with heaviness. Part of the aural spectacle is the vocal performance, which seems to come from another planet. Whispering growls and strained surreal vocals along the lines of Poland’s Asgaard are doubtless designed to present a sense of other-worldliness but it’s hard to empathise with them. “Pillar” (Vraxos) meanders on technically and not exactly chaotically. I suppose the word here is avant-garde. There is an atmosphere but not one which can be readily described in human terms. The lyrics tell a ghastly tale. The instrumentals respond in kind with their unstructured technicality. The flow is like that of a muddy river. “A Subtler Kind of Light” isn’t subtle at all. It’s got the air of an avant-garde metal opera. A quiet opening leads to the sombre and measured tones of “Fall” (Ptosi). Impenetrable darkness flows through the passages. The pace picks up. The progression remains irregular. “Fall” thrashes on and ends as inexplicably as this work as a whole. Spooky cosmic tones signal the start of “Flight” (Ptisi). By this stage, I had become numbed by the whirlwind of sounds. “Flight” is like drifting through space. As I was expecting it to burst out into more thrashing metal, it remains in its hallucinatory place. Mysterious it is but not in any coherent way.
Having listened to this album carefully, I am none the wiser. I applaud Locust Leaves for their imagination and adventure but have no idea what they were trying to achieve here. I could listen to “A Subtler Kind of Light” a hundred times, and it would still be too musically obscure for me.
(5/10 Andrew Doherty)