Review Summary: Sludge, from the bowels of a dying spacecraft.
As previously seen on their EP Loss
and now here, LLNN have a certain way of injecting an apocalyptic quality into their work. The juxtaposition of Christian Bonnesen’s yell and balls-heavy, drawn out chugs is what could be expected from a group featuring The Psyke Project’s former frontman, and indeed the level of open string abuse is at times remarkable (see: Engineer of Ire, closing section of Eye of the Covenant); however, much like the aforementioned outfit Marks
avoids much of the inanity that can come from such a brazen approach. The dense melodies overlaying Bonnesen’s ireful delivery lend to an unusual sound that melds shoegaze and hardcore sludge, creating the sense of vulnerability which proves key to their appeal. Their usage of synths, however, is LLNN’s greatest idiosyncrasy. Sci-fi drones and sweeps underpin much of the half creating an overwhelming tension, while little whirrs, glitches and mechanical shrieks pierce through the wall of sound; cumulatively Marks
feels claustrophobic and carries a weight of inevitability, like envisioning the crew of a malfunctioning spacecraft, far from any help. While noticeable throughout, this imagery reaches its climax – and aftermath – between ‘Eye of the Covenant’ and ‘Gravitated’. Following the former’s cataclysmic descent that marks its end, the album collapses into its dividing point, a substantial block of ambient replete with drones, synthetic choirs and a suitably foreboding atmosphere, gloomily marking the end of LLNN’s journey.
While not an altogether different beast, Wovoka’s ‘Traces’ takes on a more post-metallic colour than their Danish counterparts. Impressively, the Los Angelans manage to plunge deeper still into the low-end, going for the jugular with punch after bass-flooded punch during its opening movement. While familiar routes are taken with its developmental approach, track layering and the vocalist’s best Scott Kelly impression, Wovoka make good of their stylistic field in creating a deservedly long, heavy-as-lead response to LLNN’s shorter bludgeons. While markedly absent at first, the astronomical features heard in Marks
eventually bleed through once more; however, where they increase LLNN’s intensity, it’s ultimately whooshes and bleeps that bring an end to Traces
’ sludgier focus. Wonderful clean vocals add a short-lived yet potent emotional salve, before returning for one final blast to close proceedings; the momentary shift to slightly lighter fields only serves to make the ending all the more impacting.
By way of their collective penchant for the lower registers and impassioned, mid-range vocal performances, LLNN and Wovoka make a decidedly good fit for one another. Neither halves are perfect – the Danes succumb to a little homogeneity outside of the electronic additions, the Angelenos needing a smidge more of their own identity – but their sum is an enjoyable, engrossing, and very relistenable showcase of sludge and its hybrids from two growing bands.