On paper, Boston, MA. originated band Lesser Grow with this their second full length album following on from 2018’s Ruined, should absolute tick all the boxes I have, for falling absolute head over heels in love with every riff, snare hit and sonically contrived sounds that emits from this record. It marches right up my Strasse, of doom, sludge, expansive post rock, metal, hardcore, bit of space rock (ala Cave In) with some proggy, math influences that should all coalesce into a delicious and appealing metal sandwich, that begs to be eaten with a side order of hyperbolic flavoured crisps.
BUT, something is not quite right here and I can’t put my finger on it. There are times during this album’s run time, that I am on board, packed and ready to party BUT there are also moments when listening to this album, where I am more inclined to turn it off or at least skip a track or two and stare into the mid distance like a gun for hire in a Sergio Leone spaghetti western contemplating the deaths on my slate and what faces me in the next life. It really makes no sense whatsoever.
The fact that Lesser Glow’s debut album was lauded from the rooftops and by scene luminaries such as Converge no less… why doesn’t this trigger me in the ways it should? As mentioned, it is all reasonable enough. Huge wall of guitars that tower over everything here, towering like a one-hundred-foot tidal wave, wiping out everything in its path alongside huge percussive drums, that pound and resonate like a concussive grenade going off in a blancmange factory. It’s like a slightly panicked ISIS (the band) and that, if anything, should be rousing me from my slumber. And it does have its moments especially at the denouement of ‘Fostering The Nullity’ where the vocals, guitars and drums all syncopate into a crunchy, doom-laden cacophony of joy that is by far and away the highlight of this album. If the album had more moments like this rather than meandering, filler tracks that segue back and forth that never quite seem to reach their full potential, then this album could be rescued from being merely a bit…dull. It may be some of the clean vocals here, that are drenched in effects and lack bite and aggression. I am all for a bit of light and shade but it’s when this album subjugates its heavier tendencies that it becomes less vital.
I think it’s the vocals in general that are central to my issues with this album and unfortunately, being as they are, mostly front and centre, they feel a little out of place with much of what else is going on here. It shares some DNA with bands such as Pelican, Oceans and Russian Circles in the way that songs build and build over time, not rushing and then pays off in a cavalcade of brutally, delicious riffs and deviously convoluted song structures. Maybe this is also my problem, that with all the best intentions, this album fails to build on what are a collection of initially good ideas and declines to make them great. By albums end, the band seems to have run ragged the blueprint that they are working from and start to repeat previous ideas and simply seem to run out of steam.
It’s a shame because amongst the so so moments here, there are some great individually sections of real interest, expansive and genuinely exciting, dirty passages that swell and contract like an asthmatic dog on a 15 mile run but it then contrives to twist itself into so many knots and loses focus. At the end of the day, Nullity (mostly) comes across as being just a bit dull, contrived and boring. There is real talent and promise under some the more vanilla aspects of this album, it just takes some digging to find it.
(6/10 Nick Griffiths)