Author: Bloodshot Grub
Artist: The Lion’s Daughter
Album: Existence Is Horror
Label: Season of Mist
And here it is, my first new release of 2016, the sophomore full-length from Missouri’s The Lion’s Daughter. I’m not superstitious, but some ancient part of my brain seems to worry that my selection might prove prophetic with regards to the year ahead. If that were the case, the title alone would indicate that this would make an especially ominous note on which to start the year. There are some significant similarities to one of the last releases I caught in 2015, and the subject of my last review, The Tomb of All Things by Un. It’s slow, it’s bleak, it’s violent and unwholesome, and it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
This album’s ten songs feature numerous sections that are clearly inspired by the big players in this particular style of sludge, but what I wasn’t able to detect at any point was a sense of The Lion’s Daughter’s own style. Each track feels like a compilation of ideas, and often the sources from which those ideas were borrowed are so evident that listening can turn into a game of “name that source material.” But the ideas aren’t developed into something new; they’re simply taken as they are and placed next to each other. If, for example, you’ve ever wondered what it sounds like when you take a Thantifaxath riff and put it next to a Lord Mantis riff, you can listen to “Nothing Lies Ahead” and have your answer.
While The Lion’s Daughter leans closer to the black metal side of this genre, they work best when they’re at their slowest and sludgiest, as the black metal elements (such as the melody towards the beginning of “Mass Green Extinct”) seem thin and unsupported. But on their own, many of the ideas are effective. The aforementioned Lord Mantis riff, for example, is a heavy hitter, and vocalist Rick Giordano makes excellent use of space, landing his distorted shouts only when the riffs give them maximum impact. And my favorite song on the album, “Four Flies” takes a pulsing rhythm combined with electronic noise and carries it from total chaos into a chord progression that is both beautiful and entirely resigned to hopelessness.
Similarly, when considered by itself, the production is very good, but it is an overall detriment to the music. While the dynamics are a little lacking, the mix is excellent, very punchy and clear, and the bass sound especially is impressively throaty. Moreso even than Un, this style of production does not make sense with this style of music. Rather than a reflection of the horror of existence that the cover art (by Paolo Girardi, who seems to be the current go-to in underground metal) and album title have introduced, it seems the product of calm and collected reflection and an ear for the aesthetics of warmth and lyricism. I don’t get the sense here that I am being confronted with raw existential horror, but rather that it has been presented in such a way as to make it pleasant and appealing. This should be the production that technical death metal strives for: clear, organic, rich, and musical. But in this context, it’s absolutely nonsensical.
For one final comparison to Un, I’ll note that The Lion’s Daughter is also a band now playing in a style that is at least somewhat removed from their prior output. Their first album, A Black Sea, was a collaboration with a band called Indian Blanket about which I have been able to discover very little, although it seems that they’re an acoustic folk project. It’s an interesting combination of styles and what I’ve listened to of A Black Sea sounds very promising and indicates that The Lion’s Daughter might have more up their sleeve than Existence Is Horror would indicate.
- Bloodshot Grub
Check ’em out here: http://thelionsdaughter.bandcamp.com/