Thursday, 18 February 2016

LOTHORIAN - Beyond the Astral Mind

I found out about Lothorian through Acid Cosmonaut Records, who released their 'Welldweller' EP almost exactly 3 years ago. I reviewed it. I liked it, I'm not going to say I absolutely loved it, but one thing stood out to me and that was the promise of this band. Their potential was enormous.

It was around that time that a youtube teaser video was circulating for a full-length album called 'Mørke' that never came to fruition. I don't know the full story behind the abortive effort but the band went through some line-up changes and one can only hope, various sexual preference and lifestyle changes along the way. I'd also like to imagine that the band has dealt with heavy personal issues such as balloon addiction and standing trial for "flying a kite whilst not sober" to get to this point.

This is the first we've heard from them since then, and it's also their first full-length album. So, what's is going to be then, eh? Do these Belgian droogies live up to their potential or do they fall like eggy weggs and go splatty wat on the paving?

I decided to share my first impressions of the album, unvarnished, unedited and written "live" as I listened for the first time ...

Witchcunt - Don't know how you can expect to get away with calling a song "Witchcunt" in today's shitty political atmosphere but I like it! Lothorian is already getting on my good side by showing some balls early on. Tone-setting screams and a horrific, evil riff. Nice. This is turning out to be an instrumental and that's alright. The way I remember it, Lothorian's Welldweller EP was split between instrumentals and vocals, one after the other, back and forth. Let's see if the trend continues... This is a fucking killer song, by the way. Very spookhouse atmosphere, like an over the top haunted house from some silly late-80s horror movie.

Blackhand - Starting out strong with some pounding bass drums and floor tom. Ah, there's some vocals. Different from the last time. Actually sung this time, no affectation. That's always a plus in my book.

As the Void Absorbs All Light - Another fast start with the drums. This guy's doing overtime here! I'll have to look up his name. Come to think of it so is the guitar with the almost, but not quite blackened tremelo picking. Bit darker, slower and heavier than black metal picking but in that same ball park. This is a damn good band, man. And, just as I suspected, another instrumental.Three songs in and we're really establishing a cinematic feel. Little more lively than say, Cult of Occult which feels Hammer-ish to me. This feels a little more like Monster Squad, The Burbs or The Gate because of the Draculan riffs and faster tempo drums. And yes, I know I just made up the word Draculan. Just try and stop me! And that word specifically refers to a cape-wearing Dracula.

Eternal Smoke Cloaks the Night - I'm gonna be severely disappointed if there aren't vocals in this song. Not because I don't like Lothorian's instrumentals (I'm starting to prefer them), but because it would shoot gaping holes in my sequencing theory. Right on cue. Little throatier this time than last. Another kick ass song with a solid, doomy riff and interesting drums. It makes such a huge difference when drums don't just sit there but actually do something. When I played drums, I wasn't that great, but I wouldn't just hold a backbeat, in my mind I was playing riffs of my own. I'd add little asides, not just as fills, but consistently so that they became part of the "beat", which was more than a "beat", it was a riff. In my mind anyway. This drummer seems to share a similar philosophy. This guy is awesome, an early candidate for drummer of the year. What's his name? I'm gonna look it up ... Jurgen. Yeah, this guy kicks ass, man. Again, this is a great band. No last names though. Fame is for the weak-minded.

March of Time - Low, slow start. Let's see if my theory gets shot down here. We're into the middle of the album now so if there was a time to change things up, this would be it. 2/3 of the way through and there hasn't been much development here. This is more of a moody interlude than the previous instrumentals. I'm starting to get the impression that the way they write instrumental and vocal songs is different. The instrumentals are more simplistic and monolithic. We'll see about that later ...

Forbanned - This is off to a killer start. Simplistic riff and pounding drums for that Conan / Witchsorrow feel. Two totally different bands but they both do similar moves. Vocals pop in to keep the sequencing streak alive. A streak that extends all the way back to 2013. Longest song on the record here at nearly 9 minutes and it may just hold up as thee standout cut. Also a bit of a Goya vibe. Aha! There's the drop out I was waiting for. No way you sustain that pace for 9 minutes and nowhere to build up from that fast start. They've just said fuck it and changed things up completely. Another killer part here. Fuck man, this record's gonna make my end of the year list ... Another change up and it's got a bit of a drunken swagger to it. And then revved back up to a crazy riff-thing. Damn skippy, that was another great tune.

Solitude - Well, that was the most logical place for the vocals to come in and they didn't. Again, another instrumental with a riff that's a little more caveman-ish than their vocal songs. For the instrumentals, does the guitarist write those at home and then bring them to the band later and the vocal tunes are jammed out and therefore more complicated? Oooh, curveball. There are vocals here after all. Interesting. This is another excellent tune. Just a doomy riff and heavy hitting drums. Whoa, real whirlwind going on here in the bridge. Hurricane winds blowing through this song. Now a real funeral doom / blastbeat tug of war at the end. Disgusting.

Soothsayer - Three songs in a row with vocals. Nice tempo change here in the bridge. And a doomy path leads the way back. Fucking awesome song. Once again the drummer is the real hero here. I may be a little biased as a former drummer, but still. Oh my fuck! Awesome tempo changes here! Alright, every song so far has been awesome, but this one is really getting my goat and sacrificing it to some subterranean fiend. This is it, this is the song I would play for someone who's never heard Lothorian before. Oh, that fucking riff! And they come out of it leaving you wanting more. Now that's what I call a killer fucking tune!

Dance of Death - And we end on the shortest song on the record. I'll be shocked if there's vocals here. Absolutely gobsmacked as my British friends might say. Actually, they'd probably throw the word cunt in there to spice things up because the British are cool that way with their vulgarity. Killer, dare I say iconic doom riff, may be a call back to the intro. I don't know, I'll have to go back and replay it, my memory's not THAT great. I've just been force-fed a table full of amazing doom riffs so you'll have to forgive me.

And it's over. Well, I'm not just satisfied here, I'm positively stuffed. That's a great record and yes, fans of Goya will find a lot to love and salivate over on 'Beyond the Astral Mind'. Like I said, Lothorian prove themselves here to be a great band, not just with the riffs but by keeping things moving, keeping it interesting the whole way throughout. Jurgen is my new hero.

This definitely has the potential to be an end-of-the-year candidate. The only 4-star tune was March of Time, all the rest were 5 star boner-makers. The rest was just one amazing riff after another.

Going back I noticed that "Witchcunt" was a little call-back to the opening song on their first EP, "Witchunt".

The best part is the album is available for #freeload on bandcamp!


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