Between the self-created illusions of life and the grim reality of our mortality lies a dark place where consciousness is discovered. Art that’s stood the test of time has concerned itself with this chasm between the self and the image – a sort of reckoning between who we are and what we are in the mathematical schematics of the universe. I’ve always been drawn to the funeral doom sound in part because the slowed rhythm seems to encapsulate the commonality that all living things share – death. The chant-like descants and bellowing growls are the soundtrack to decay and the end that we all share. Old funeral doom gods such as Mournful Congregation and Thergothon and new groundbreakers such as Loss and Pallbearer have yet another stunning group to add to their ranks in the form of Lycus who with their debut have created swells of melody and despair mired in the paced beauty of a sound that while focused on the terminal seems infinite in its execution.
Tempest is the debut LP from Lycus, and it’s a record that bridges those two invaluable qualities of being familiar and altogether new. Over the course of 42 minutes Tempest moves with slow precision varying between undeniably doom sounds and touches of drone and black metal. While the template here could easily be to settle in on one overarching sound and plod away, Lycus manage to comfortably transition from one sound to the next without sacrificing the undercurrent of heavy dread. Opener “Coma Burn” wastes little time in laying the groundwork for the incredibly heavy sound that threads itself throughout the entire album. Even a momentary foray into black metal tremolos and screeching background vocals is appropriate here given that Lycus makes it a point to stay comfortable not with one sound but with the ability to move from one to another. Brief moments of ambience and melodic digressions further underscore the heart of what Lycus has created with Tempest – a brooding and overwhelming journey into the depths of despair.
Second track “Engravings” explores the chanting vocals and haunted old school death doom sound of those who’ve paved the way for Lycus. As with any artist worth their salt, the band doesn’t ape or mirror the sound of their obvious influences as much as they give proper credit by making those familiar sounds their very own. At twenty minutes long, the third and final track “Tempest” casts a long shadow with its monolithic sound venturing from ambience to doom to drone. The space created by the sounds here are utterly devastating, yet they never veer into repetition or monotony. The road to doom is paved here with a sonic variance that places Tempest on a path to being incredibly influential. In a year already brimming with absolutely groundbreaking work from the heavy music realm, Tempest places itself easily among the elite with its unbridled gloom and refusal to dig a grave of sound the same old way.
Trevor Deschryver (Drums, Vocals)
Jackson (Guitars, Vocals)
Daniel (Bass, Vocals)
Dylan Burton (Guitars)
Lycus - Tempest (2013)
1. Coma Burn (11:38)
2. Engravings (09:37)
3. Tempest (20:35)