The Tongueless EP

Written by: AP on 12/03/2015 19:05:22

Given each of its artists is hand-picked by The Ocean mastermind and label owner Robin Staps, a signature with Pelagic Records tends to signal that the band in question comes with certain quality standards, and as such, without even knowing them, one suspects that a group like Lo! from Sydney, Australia will not disappoint. Yet despite having released two full-length albums already - 2011’s “Look and Behold” & 2013’s “Monstrorum Historia” - the Aussie quartet will likely not spark instant recognition this far from home. It seems prudent, thus, to offer the following brief summary of the style they profess: a dark and elusive fabric weaved from post-metal and sludge that is not too dissimilar from Cult of Luna (with whom Lo! incidentally toured Europe two years ago), added a dusting of crusty hardcore.

Lo! make no secret of their Swedish inspiration either on this new EP "The Tongueless", showing their hand early with the patiently developed "No Contrition"; lone, semi-distorted full notes plucked at shifting bar positions over a repeating odd time rhythm pattern create the impression that the song is about to take off at any moment, yet the listener is kept on his/her toes for almost two minutes as the tension grows and the soundscape swells - all in keeping with Cult of Luna's traditions. Far from mere idolatry however, the explosions of d-beat and heavy powerchord characteristic to hardcore ensure Lo! have their own ideas too. "Orca" exposes a chaotic facet to the quartet, speeding off without warning in a furious flurry of skin beating by Adrian Griffin, Carl Whitbread's melodies full of alarm and distress; its hammering breakdown, which raises the bass playing of Adrian Shapiro and the anguished screams of Sam Dillon to a pedestal, suggesting Lo! haven't forgotten to take notes from the likes of Meleeh and No Omega as well.

Diversity is thus in ample supply even under the restriction of just 17 minutes of length. But truly haunting moments? Less so. Ironically, it is left to the shortest pick "Litmus Beings" to shoulder most such weight, mixing the sort of mysterious signature melody often enlisted by The Ocean with eruptions of extreme metal, and an unexpectedly warm crescendo held aloft by the empowering, chest pounding defiance of Dillon's vocals there. "Megafauna", at record's end, offers little outside of cascades of trudging chords and gradually evaporating instruments as Dillon screams the proceedings to a close, consolidating my verdict that while nothing on "The Tongueless" decidedly drives me away, there too little inviting on it to tempt my return. With the exception of "Litmus Beings" and to some extent also "Orca", Lo!'s ideas lack the necessary penetration to conjure an A-ha! type reaction.


Download: Orca, Litmus Beings
For the fans of: Cult of Luna, Earthship, The Mire, Zozobra
Listen: Facebook

Release date 23.01.2015
Pelagic Records

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