One of the things about following a
toilet-fetish metal blog day in, day out, is that you start to become overwhelmed with new music. I, like many Toileteers, have a backlog of music of various subgenres that I sincerely mean to get to, but I get home from work and play a gazillion hours of Overwatch instead. Inevitably, I end up making a lot of quick judgements about material that deserve deeper listens. Too often I hear good black or death metal and neglect it simply because of the overfamiliarity. Between yelling at my cats, the weather, sports, video games, and the Dipshit-In-Chief, I’m too busy and angry to devote proper time to new music unless it really grabs my attention. With that, let me tell you why I cannot stop jamming the first official full-length, A Subtler Kind of Light, from progressive black/thrash/hard-to-generically-define band, Locust Leaves.
Just a glimpse at the above lyric sheet tells you this is a unique project. You can laugh at me for judging a book by it’s cover, but a little bit of eccentricity and effort go a long way toward drawing my attention. Locust Leaves is primarily a duo, with the bulk of the recording done by multi-instrumentalist Helm and vocalist Nick K. However, the help the two received, from drummer Archon Vorskaath (Zemial) and guitarist Ayloss (Spectral Lore), makes a big difference on the album. Ayloss’ guitar leads are especially worthy of praise. The artwork, lyric sheet, and album description made it clear that this album required a more nuanced listen, but I still wasn’t sure what to expect.
Helm describes the album as being “about transmutation,” or a type of shifting into a different state or form. In the context of the album’s themes, Helm appears to be referring to a spiritual transmutation related to ancient Greek beliefs. It’s difficult to decipher, but I’m of the opinion that, although the album is very conceptual, Helm’s description serves more to establish an overarching theme than tell a contained narrative. There are only four tracks, each with only a single-word English title alongside its Greek translation (if you’re starting to catch a theme, these guys are from Greece). The tracks are on the longer side, but with only four of them the album ends up being a little over a half-hour long. Sure, it’s a quick one, but that allows each track to be strong. No fillers.
Depending on your feelings regarding the strictness of genre and subgenre tags, there might be a quibble over whether the album is more in the black or death camp. The band itself uses the term “progressive black thrash,” but I tend to land more on the death side. There’s no denying, however, that it is progressive. Further, the production gives it an old-school feel that many members of the toilet are bound to love. If you’re a fan of Individual Thought Patterns era Death, or perhaps the thrashier Coroner, then you absolutely cannot skip Locust Leaves. The production really allows for the songs to feel dynamic, giving the thrash parts a lot of power but allowing the ambient sections to blend-in and make you want to listen more closely. The guitar tone is sharp and the riffs start and stop suddenly, sometimes thrashy and sometimes a weird and military-march sounding mid-tempo. Nick K’s vocal performance is a bizarre delight. At times he has the nasally tones of Faith No More‘s Mike Patton (albeit pretty much entirely in the baritone range), but then he’ll mutter some layered and cryptic passages or growl his way through a more blackened-thrash section. The album is full of these types of twist and turns, but keeps returning to catchy riffs and hooks that will make you want to put it on repeat.
All in all, it’s a pretty damn fine release and the band’s effort shows. My only true complaint is the length. Like I said, there’s no filler. Even though the last track is a six-minute ambient outro, I felt it fit thematically and it managed to keep my attention. Still, I wanted more. Not much more, but certainly more. Thus, even if I felt all the songs were great, it leaves a bit to be desired. It’s still awesome, especially given that it’s the band’s first official release. I’ll be excited to hear more from them, and they could become a favorite if they keep it up. Yep.
4.5 OUT OF 5 HELLISH TOILETS OV THE VOID BE FLAMIN’