Review Summary: a concise, streamlined and all-around great doom metal record with enough individuality to set it apart.Red Silence Lodge
came at a time that I felt honestly tired out by doom metal of the more melancholic persuasion. Simply put, too much of it was trying too hard to convey the exact same message in the exact same way. Perhaps some of it was too gimmicky and tried too desperately to attain a sense of authenticity from it. There are only so many times one can listen to the message "I am sad" with the same melancholic riffs beneath it and for it to feel genuine. This is where Red Silence Lodge
strikes a different chime - in what it doesn't do, or feel the need to do, to convey this feeling so effectively and convincingly. What they instead delivered are seven very well written doom ballads that never resort to cheap devices and consistently impress and are structured nigh-on perfectly, and despite rarely leaving their comfort zone, Lethian Dreams
rarely sound samey or tired.
For fans of the melodic, non-plodding approach to doom that the likes Draconian
have popularized, there's a lot here to appreciate. The similarities are obvious from the get-go - the straight forward and surprisingly immediate songwriting by doom metal standards especially, despite staying at a slower pace for the majority of the record. The weight of the rhythm guitars is definitely reminiscent of bands like My Dying Bride
and Swallow the Sun
but it finds a way to sound more distinctive than most bands can manage. The inclusion of tremolo-picked riffs, more akin to black metal than anything else, really do help differentiate Lethian Dreams
from the bunch; especially when you consider how seamlessly they're used with the melancholic, slower lead riffs, especially when mixed with delay-drenched clean guitars that perfectly meld with everything else. The guitar work excels here in its subtlety and ability to carry the rest of the music with it, including the much improved vocals of Carline Van Roos. She does, however, sound very distant in the mix but her vocals are a welcome soothing contrast from the rest of the band and add a lot of individuality to the palette, if only a texture. It is a shame that the drums sound a touch wooden in places, and the bass is mostly inaudible, but both do what they need to do to carry the momentum.
From one listen alone the improvements since Season of Raven Words
are obvious - Red Silence Lodge
is far more confident and refined. Not only that, though, it's also a lot more diverse if you listen closely. It does sound like melodic doom on the forefront but some moments, such as the astoundingly well-executed blastbeat section of "Shades", shine through and take this beyond just being another doom metal record for the pile. The band is just as comfortable in more delicate situations, too - "Dust" using delayed clean guitars akin to post-rock bands that make some other bands' attempt at incorporating post-rock into metal looking like a sorry joke. Lethian Dreams
go to great lengths to make none of the twists they use jarring, using each one to heighten the atmospheres set by their foundations and they don't falter once - even when incorporating all of their tricks into one track, the closing track "Black Winds" arguably being the strongest of their career thus far. Though tracks "Midwinter" and "Leaving Light" feel less memorable than the rest, they in no way go too far astray from the quality Lethian Dreams
bring forward in their strongest moments.
Where Red Silence Lodge
excels is the gimmick-free approach; the band don't use any of their instrumentation in an obnoxious way and none of it seems cheap. It isn't the most striking record, nor the most impressive in terms of musicianship and pushing any boundaries they've set for themselves, nor does it set out to. It's a perfection of their own formula, which all considered is definitely a winning formula made all the better with some much needed refinement since Season of Raven Words
. It's such a shame Lethian Dreams
are as under-appreciated as they are - they're a band that forgoes most gimmicks associated with their peers and simply release a great album in all aspects, and it really does deserve to be heard.