Lucis Absentia – To The Depths
Location: Fairfield, Ohio
Lucis Absentia show a sound that mixes old-school thrash metal with elements of melodic death metal, progressive metal, and even a little black metal. Right from the very beginning, these guys play with the kind of energy that reminds me of why I got into extreme metal in the first place.
To The Depths, the band’s debut EP, is fast, brutal, melodic, and an absolute ripper. The opening/title track, “To The Depths,” sets the bar pretty high for speed, musicianship, and sheer intensity. The guitar-work reminds me of a mix between fellow Ohio-natives Skeletonwitch and The Black Dahlia Murder, with a mix of melody, speedy thrash riffs, and mind-bending technical prowess. The vocals do a great job of matching the ferocity of the riffs, with mid-range growls and high-pitched screams, that, again, remind me of TBDM. Another track that really shines out is “Chapel Of Stilled Voices,” which ups the ante on melody, taking it into a dark, black metal-tinged territory that sounds so awesomely evil I got goosebumps. “Colossus” also has some pretty memorable riffs that remind me of Testament, and is easily the most straight-forward thrash sounding track on the release.
The mixing and mastering on To The Depths is excellent; although emphasis is placed on the guitars (after all, the riffs tend to be the focal point of any decent thrash record) there are still plenty of drums and vocals in the mix, and the bass is loud enough to announce its presence without overpowering the tone with too much low-end. Lucis Absentia have crafted an absolute masterpiece of speedy brutality and melody with To The Depths, and will surely be a household name before too long.
Hollow Leg – Crown
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Label: Argonauta Records
Though there are regional sludge scenes all over the globe, few seem to be as vibrant as the scene in the southern United States. Born of a love of Black Sabbath, Black Flag, and good old-fashioned blues, sludge rose out of the swamp, and has been rumbling from amplifiers at volume level 11 since the mid 80’s. Florida’s Hollow Leg carry on this tradition, adding elements of psychedelic rock into the mix as well, on their latest release, Crown.
The tone on Crown is hazy, as if it’s being filtered through moonshine and weed smoke, but at times, gives you a good kick in the guts with some heavy as hell riffing. Hollow Leg worship at the altar of the almighty amplifier, and produce some absolutely soul-crushingly heavy riffs that deserve to be turned up at full volume. Tracks like “Coils” and “New Cult” will hit any Crowbar or Weedeater fans’ sweet spot, with their slow, bluesy pacing, while maintaining a heavy edge. The one-two punch of “Atra” and “Electric Veil” also have a heavy blues vibe, though with a more psychedelic twist, particularly the heavier moments of “Electric Veil,” which remind me of Zoroaster. The vocals are half-yelled, half sung, and match the mood of the music perfectly.
The production here is exactly what the doctor ordered, with a murky, reverb-laden tone, while maintaining enough clarity that you can still hear all the notes and understand the vocals. The guitars and bass have a thick, fuzzy distortion that compliments the riffs perfectly, and gives the overall album a psychedelic edge. The pacing of the album is also assisted by the running order of the songs, which gives the album a very natural-sounding ebb and flow; the songs themselves are all about dynamics, but the overall track layout also does a great job of making the album flow as one complete piece, rather than a collection of songs haphazardly thrown together. Hollow Leg aren’t a new band (they’ve officially been an active unit since 2008), but for those that haven’t paid attention up to this point will certainly be taking notice upon hearing Crown. Though Hollow Leg aren’t really breaking a whole lot of new ground, the formula the use is tried and true, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.