Monday, 1 February 2016

Lycus - Chasms

(January 15, 2016, Relapse Records)

In 2013 I stumbled upon a band Lycus from Oakland, California and their first full-lenght, Tempest. It was love at first listening. Not only it reminded me of the classics of death and funeral doom like Disembowelment and Winter, but also of two great, and unfortunately now defunct bands, Asunder and Ocean (US). Lycus overwhelmed me with their grim atmosphere and huge sound which continued the tradition of aforementioned bands perfectly and I was eagerly awaiting their new album. In 2016 they're back with their second release, Chasms. Since Tempest they changed the line-up a bit and added another guitar making them a four-piece band now. 

   Lycus like to experiment and push the boundaries of classic death / funeral doom. On their debut there were a few excursions into black metal, with blast beats and tremolo picked riffs appearing from time to time. On Chasms they venture even further into other genres like post-metal, atmospheric black metal, and even a bit of psychedelia, but doom metal is still dominant in their songs. The changes between genres are very smooth and subtle although the songwriting is quite complex. This is best heard in the third track, "Mirage", where they beautifully melt all these various styles. The musicianship is top-notch... They have a great feeling for dynamics, rhythm section is impeccable, guitars are doing a great job accompanying one another and creating a dark and mournful atmosphere. When it comes to atmosphere on this album, they had help from Jackie Perez Gratz (an experienced cellist who played and plays with great bands including Asunder and Neurosis among many others). She delivered her beautiful melodies on cello throughout most of the album. Also Lycus definitely worked on their vocal section and often change between growls and deep, melodic chants. All this makes Chasms a very complex and layered album which at times even reminded me of the great doom masters Esoteric

   Chasms was released on Relapse Records on CD, vinyl and digitally. Artwork was once again done by the famous Paolo Girardi so the vinyl version looks especially nice. 

   Lycus made a nice evolution with this album and I'm sure many fans of heavy riffs, progressive songwriting and an atmospheric take on metal music will definitely like it. It's not an easy release and as with all good albums it takes more than one listen to completely sit in, but once it does you will have a hard time of letting it go.

- Luka


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