Label: Relapse Records
Fans of funeral doom rejoice! Lycus is back to grace us with another epic chapter in their Book of Doom. For those that do not know, Lycus is a Californian funeral doom band with only one previous LP, although they ramped up with a couple of demos. However, their lack of history should not discourage you, because Tempest was hailed as one of the ultimate funeral doom albums of 2013 and caught the attention of many considering it was a debut. Three years later and the next album has finally dropped, reserved for the beginning of 2016 rather than late 2015.
Chasms follows the same sound that Lycus introduced on Tempest, although the lack of violin and the inclusion of cello (by none other than Jackie Perez Gratz of Giant Squid, Grayceon, and that one gorgeous song off Agalloch’s Marrow of the Spirit) brings a mournful beauty to the proceedings. We have the crushing guitars, the titanic tone, and the weight of lengthy songs showcased once again. Lycus is able to combine one guitar played deafening and reverberated with another picking out echoing notes to great effect. It is music that both soothes and weighs down, like the best of funeral doom.
One thing that I really like about Chasms is the vocals, which are actually two sets of vocals, although you’d be forgiven for not instantly recognizing the second set. Along with the standard deep, slow growls that are heard so frequently in funeral doom are clean vocals that are so slow and pushed so far back into the mix you sometimes confuse them for another guitar chiming out soft notes. They provide the barest hint of humanity and are a nice touch. I think the one thing that Lycus wants to convey with its music is an epic feeling. This music is so grand and portentous that it is hard to resist being caught in its pull. When I started out listening to this album in preparation for this review, I ended up playing it three times in a row. Like their previous release, Chasms isn’t a long album. In fact, it could be considered short for funeral doom. But I think that the length allows Lycus to do what they want to without wearing on anyone. Funeral doom can definitely be wearing, and it can be difficult to strap yourself in for the 80 to 90 to 100 minutes that bands like Esoteric and Shape of Despair demand from you. Chasms on the other hand feels almost breezy, or at least not as daunting to get into.
Once again, Lycus has proven itself as a funeral doom band that, despite its relative youth, can hold its own against the titans of the genre. I wouldn’t say that funeral doom is an easy space to carve yourself into, and some bands that have tried have not exactly excelled. For example, I would say that Lycus’ sophomore Chasms achieves what I feel that Bell Witch’s sophomore Four Phantoms was attempting to do: create a mournful, epic sound that leaves the listener feeling both exhausted and captivated. If you have not yet heard Lycus, now is the time to jump on because this band is going to become one of the greats!
Check ’em out here: https://lycus.bandcamp.com/album/chasms