Repeatedly delayed, the new Loma Prieta record has been one of the most anticipated releases in the emo/screamo scene lately. The release date being pushed back may have raised expectations higher but the original excitement was indeed palpable. The band’s previous work, brimming with potential, and the early glimpses of ‘I.V.’ we were afforded led many to believe that ‘I.V.’ would be Loma Prieta’s masterpiece. Loma Prieta’s most recent album, ‘Life/Less’, was an accomplished exercise in convoluted screamo but it did not quite carry the punch it was intended to, and so it made many fans believe Loma Prieta could better it. This belief started to become something of a reality with the streaming of the overtly melodic ‘Fly By Night’
- the album’s first track, and the first track we had the chance to listen to. Just when you thought the track was over it seemingly reached another peak of beautifully despairing, crashing riffs. It was a stunning display of the band’s ambitions and ever-improving compositional abilities, but more importantly it was an augury, and perhaps the most cathartic piece the band had ever written. Until now.
Torrential outpourings of octave chords, a tsunami of drums and the rumbling storm of the bass imbue ‘I.V.’ with a primal sense of power that makes for an exhaustively gripping listen. The onslaught is near-relentless, rarely offering the listener a chance to catch their breath. When a respite is
offered, it augments the overall composition, counterpointing such visceral cacophony effectively, before it quickly crescendos to another breath-taking climax. Still, the most striking aspect of ‘I.V.’ is how bold it sounds. Guitar tones are thicker, the claustrophobic atmosphere is more tangible, and everything
feels more urgent.
The changes made to the sound Loma Prieta has been diligently perfecting may only be slight, but these slight changes produce maximum effects. Their template of dark octave chords over an intricate rhythm section remains, but on ‘I.V.’ it feels fuller and more despairing than ever. This is partly due to the enhanced production values which render the riffs here heavier, the bass more prominent, and the dark, brooding atmosphere more profound. This is also due to subtly complex structuring which creates several peaks and troughs in the space of a single track (‘Fly By Night’
) as well as from one track into another (the sparse, peaceful ‘Untitled’
into the abrupt release of tension in ‘Uniform’
). Furthermore, the structuring of individual tracks and the ordering of the album as a whole offers remarkable fluidity. The overall effect of all this is an album that sounds simultaneously ferocious and surprisingly melodic. Moreover, it feels like a goddamn purge.
Loma Prieta have threatened to make this record for a long time– dense, abrasive and cathartic, ‘I.V.’ concisely amasses all that nearly made their previous records so great, and builds upon them with complex structuring and purer timbres. Missteps do occur – the Punch-esque bass-led stomps and the relatively crass, straightforward hardcore punk sections seem somewhat incongruous and superfluous – but these generally do little to disrupt the album’s raging flow. Overall, Loma Prieta’s highly anticipated fourth album was worth the wait. Subtly intricate yet imbued with primal tenacity, ‘I.V.’ is a sprawling, technical, and more importantly, highly emotive album. 2012 may only be a week old, but Loma Prieta has already set the bar pretty high.