Review Summary: Gloomy in tone, but not totally consumed with hopelessness, Lycus sophomore album offers more than what may initially meet the ears.
At this point, the funeral doom scene is about as impervious to newcomers as the genre’s content is to any listener not conditioned for its opacity and bleakness. It’s a genre so innately restrictive that there is simply no ground left to break. Aspiring bands come and go in the blink of an eye, and those who manage to make ripples are overshadowed by the contemporary efforts of funeral doom’s progenitors. The fact that Lycus haven’t already burnt out on austerity for austerity’s sake is encouraging because it means they’re resolute. Furthermore, it’s apparent they’re not content to repeat themselves on Chasms
, their second full-length album. This is an imposing development of the ideas Lycus sported on 2013’s Tempest
, with cascading walls of sound broken into what seem like movements rather than songs. Sorrowful minor chords create a leering aural canopy, while the resonant and powerful gutturals linger about your surroundings. The sense of detachment one feels here is the key, resulting in a conflicting mix of anguish and optimism.
In part, Lycus’ desired effect is achieved with a small cache of aural accessories. Choirs, synth lines and even a cello make appearances on each of the four tracks, but they’re used in such a subtle manner that they add weight to the compositions without becoming distracting. At certain points in the title-track, the cello appears to take the lead, reprising this role in “Mirage” and helping to bind the album’s two halves together. Unfortunately, “Mirage” is also the album’s weak-link, featuring a shambolic climax in which the lumbering chords refuse to gel with some unseemly blast beats. Blights in the production become apparent here as well, as frequencies clash and form a sibilant, distorted haze. However, this is a minor qualm given these moments account for so little of this album’s overall run time, and the remaining bulk is strong enough to overcome any loss in momentum. The compositional deadweight of Tempest
is now a distant memory, replaced by arrangements that ooze melancholia, but not without glints of something more cathartic. Though Chasms
may not expand the repertoire of funeral doom, it is nevertheless an engrossing venture worth anyone’s time.