Sunday, July 21, 2013

Locrian: Return to Annihilation (2013)

Ambient? Hardly.

Dark ambient is a genre that’s often talked about within metal circles, but I suspect most metalheads don’t really get it. Usually, I don’t. Every now and then I’ll try an album, usually come away perplexed, and mostly forget about it.

Locrian is the one dark ambient band that I think I’m finally beginning to understand. I’ve been listening to Return to Annihilation regularly since getting the promo back in May, and it’s steadily been growing on me. But I don’t really know much about the genre, or its language. Hell, I’m not even sure what instruments are used here. The prospect of actually writing a review, you can guess, is daunting. So here goes nothing.

You have to approach this, if at all, with the intent of listening to the whole thing. It’s cinematic by nature, the soundtrack to a movie that needs no visuals and no dialogue. Once you’ve accepted that, you can begin. Electronics and drums, joined by screeching vocals. A repetitive bassline with seemingly random guitar parts is followed by a metal conclusion. Clean guitars, buzzing slow riff, a distorted undertone with a clean riff. That sums up the first four songs in a clinical way, but what you need to understand about them is that they are build-up. They’re dynamic, in the sense they use a lot of different sounds, and they’re immersive, but they’re here to lead you to the final trio of songs.

The second half of the record is where things get really interesting. The title track menaces with a slow riff, screams, and a memorable lead. More screaming accompanies “Panorama of Mirrors,” where a halting drum beat is colored by a buzzing sheen of guitar. The final 15-minute epic starts with acoustic guitar and then does so much more that it could have been an EP in its own right.

So, it turns out I don’t really know how to write this review. This track-by-track is far too clinical to convey the message, which is really just this: It’s cinematic, dynamic, and very interesting, best heard loud and preferably on a great set of headphones.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

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