Album Review: Lament Cityscape – The Torn
“The Nothing” from The Neverending Story was one of the most terrifying concepts of my childhood. A raging black cloud sweeping across an existential landscape of hopes and dreams, completely eliminating anyone and anything in its path. An unstoppable creeping void of misery and hopelessness. Even the Rockbiter, with his “big, good, strong hands” couldn’t stop The Nothing from carrying away his friends and eventually even himself. The seeming finality of it all – in a word, the apocalypse – was far beyond my understanding as a child, but nonetheless deeply disturbing and horrifying.
If The Nothing had a soundtrack, Lament Cityscape‘s The Torn would be a fitting choice. The album art itself acts as a precursor to the post-apocalyptic, desolate images these songs inspire. Working from a palette of sludge, doom, and industrial noise, Lament Cityscape takes these elements and slows them to a dramatic, yawning crawl, swallowing each second of The Torn in that black cloud of hopelessness. It’s not hard to imagine those huge, heavy riffs echoing over the mountains of Fantasia, signaling the coming doom – a prophet of the void.
The Torn isn’t necessarily a unique idea. The French industrial sludge/doom act Dirge released a similarly gaping black maw of an album in 2014 with Hyperion. But Dirge’s take at least allowed for the possibility of beauty and hope. What sets Lament Cityscape’s work apart is the absolute absence of light. The music acts as a vacuum, obtaining and retaining mass, ever-growing and never allowing its walls to crack – an impenetrable tumor. It’s a purely suffocating kind of sludge that feeds only the most bleak corners of the mind.
The lyrics don’t offer much hope, either, as on “The First Son,” where Mike McClatchey wails “Peel it back / Pull me out / Seal it shut / There is nothing left.” That’s the entirety of the song. Bleak, but entirely tailor-made to McClatchey’s vision – to proclaim the gospel of The Nothing. The cymbals crashing into riffs are the lightning, and the rolling bass the thunder. The industrial noise that accents this smothering atmosphere are the calls of flesh-eating crows. Nothing is left but the dry fields and the scorched sky.
With The Torn, the vision of the artist is fully realized and potent. Nothing is wasted and nothing is extraneous. It’s a wholly immersive listen that begs to be spun again and again. It’s hard to find fault with it, so I won’t go looking for something to complain about. The Nothing has come, and I will happily give myself over to its gaze.
5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell