Review Summary: Loathe as one
Following some uncertainty in their identity in their formative years it was here that Loathe got most of their signature sound nailed down. Loathe began in the early 2010s with the kind of theatrics that often get in the way when a band wants to appear mysterious and cool. They had code names and wore masks which by all accounts were ultimately a relief when they dropped all that and just became themselves.
So it was as themselves that Loathe, fronted by vocalist Kadeem France and guitarist/vocalist Erik Bickerstaffe, created The Cold Sun, a heavy yet beautiful, bleak yet uplifting and brutal yet technical album. It’s worth noting that I’m writing this review after getting into Loathe with their follow up album I Let It In And It Took Everything, so I can write this with a little bit of knowledge of where they were going.
ILIIAITE was quite well discussed on this website so let me tell you what’s different here. TCS has big choruses, but at this point Loathe didn’t yet have dreamy pop/gaze choruses like Is It Really You? or Two Way Mirror, instead TCS has more standard metalcore choruses on this album but definitely top quality for what they are. This album has a lot of what I loved about their second album but that’s the main difference.
What is no different is that France is a beast. After an electronic opening track, comes It’s Yours, a huge rallying cry as France roars for you to ‘Claim What’s Yours!’ in a much more authentic way than injury lawyers do. This track really sets the tone for the whole album with samples and synths building a dense soundscape around huge baritone guitar riffs, pummelling drums and some brutal harsh vocals. It also opens up the listener to the first big chorus where Loathe utilise their dual vocals for the first time to great effect.
For me, the stand out track here is the bands title track, Loathe, which does everything Loathe are good at. There’s a real ‘djenty’ groove in the verses with back and forth call and answer harsh vocals, experimental guitar work with some Morello-esque whammy pedal useage, huge breakdowns and a soft section with ambience and a vocoder. It’s experimental and genre-blending but it flows properly and is an example of their experimenting really paying off to devastating effect.
Overall, I’d say The Cold Sun is more focussed and precise than its follow up album, while being a little less ambitious. There are more riffs here, born of more simplistic song structures, but that also makes this album more solid all the way through, with less skippable moments of ambience and a little less chaos in song structure, for better or worse.
For fans of I Let It In… it’s a must listen. For those who found I Let It In… a little pretentious or too far in the experimental territory - you could definitely find a lot to enjoy here too.