Lustre – Phantom (EP) (2015) & Sorrow Plagues – An Eternity of Solitude (EP) (2015)

Lustre - Phantoms Sorrow Plagues - An Eternity of Solitude

Artist: Lustre

Album: Phantom

Label: Nordvis Produktion

 

Lustre is a band that I have a lot of history with. While they aren’t the oldest band around, first releasing music in 2008, their discography is large enough to think of them as not being new. With 5 full albums and numerous EPs, splits, and demos, you can lose yourself in Lustre for a time. And of course, with familiarity there comes a more critical eye. Comparisons to previous work can be made more readily, and the “overall direction” of a band can be judged.

With Lustre’s more recent albums, you could start getting the sense that Nachtzeit, the single member of Lustre, has started to mellow out, and is using Lustre as a more ambient project. Both Wonder and Blossom have been very soft, very pretty music. Which is wonderful, of course. Lustre has always been able to instill a sense of melancholic beauty into their music. However, to my ear, it sounded like the more atmospheric, dark beauty of their earlier albums had disappeared. No more Welcome Winter or Night Spirit. Luckily, I was proven wrong as soon as I started listening to Phantom.

Phantom following the familiar pattern of two songs, paired together to draw on the same themes and feelings. Part I is a slow dirge of synths and steady drums, punctuated by the occasional thick guitar riff, bringing the song even lower into the darkness. It evokes the night like only Lustre can, and there is nothing uplifting about this song. Part II begins with a guitar riff that is so familiar it almost makes you think Nachtzeit is plagiarizing himself. The dark beauty of the deep synths pulling down a seemingly uplifting guitar section is what Lustre has always been about; not just juxtaposition of song sections, but juxtaposition of instruments in the same section. By the time the higher synth notes finally make their appearance in this song, the listener has already been lulled into the darkness of night. But instead of pressing home that darkness, Lustre inserts sparkling synth notes, like starlight revealing the path out of the darkness.

One of the most amazing things about Lustre is its ability to zero in on a series of synth and guitar notes that can be repeated endlessly and continue to be engaging for the full length of the song. Lustre is music you are meant to get lost in. The repetitive notes, the length of the songs, the wordless exhalations of vocals, it is all meant to put a spell on the listener, to root them to their seat and draw them in. And Phantom does this exceptionally well. It is probably the best Lustre output I have heard in many years, and I am very happy with it.

9/10

 

 

Artist: Sorrow Plagues

Album: An Eternity of Solitude

Label: Independent

 

Sorrow Plagues is a UK based one-man black metal band, specializing in the more atmospheric side of things. They have one previous EP to their name, but I have not heard it. An Eternity of Solitude is my first foray into the music of Sorrow Plagues, and I am definitely intrigued.

I am instantly reminded of many different bands when I start listening to this. In fact, the first few songs seem so familiar that I am starting to get confused. After thinking about it for a little while, I realized what I was hearing. Sorrow Plagues has taken the crescendos, the climaxes of bands like An Autumn For Crippled Children, Heretoir, and Lantlôs, and turned them into songs. The crashing drums, and wall of screams, the triumphant guitar notes, it all sounds like it is the climax of a DSBM song, that moment when the positive breaks through all of the depression and howls at the sky.

So what do I make of Sorrow Plagues then? Is it just derivative and uninspired? Definitely not. The songs themselves sound good, they have a great fury to them, and there are moments of real beauty here. However, I do feel that the songs are throwing me off the deep end in terms of raw emotion without really preparing me for it. Perhaps that is due to the length of the EP; maybe there simply wasn’t enough time to build towards these climaxes, and instead Sorrow Plagues just wanted to get this out to show what they could do, what kind of music they were capable of making.

I don’t know. I cannot speculate on what the artist’s intentions were here. But what I do know is that the endless use of the crash cymbal might be a little bit too much, and having a triumphant guitar solo extend through the length of the song might be a little bit too much. Because it doesn’t take the time to build me up to these amazing climaxes, it is overwhelming.

7/10

– Crono (both)

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