Lorn
Subconscious Metamorphosis

This is my first exposure to Italy’s Lorn. Apparently, they were once a fairly straightforward, traditional black metal act. With no knowledge of their back catalogue, I can’t comment on the band’s change from past to present, but the music on this album is anything but straightforward, and anything but traditional.

Wasting no time, “Definitive Conjunction” bursts out of the gate with thick guitars adorned by some Blut Aus Nord-like stylings over spacious and organic-sounding drums. The vocals are buried under the noise, alternating between black metal rasps and low speech. An ambient break after the first two minutes or so of the 9+ minute long track functions as a foretaste of the atmosphere that will surface more prevalently in later tracks. After the short break, the guitars return with layers of noise building the atmosphere, simultaneously opening up spaces and closing in – as though you are falling down a long dark tunnel that gets narrower as you descend.

After this, it seems, Lorn abandons any remaining sense of traditionalism. Many of the songs don’t develop by moving from section to section, but repeat an idea and layer others on top of it, developing organically and more subliminally. These seemingly wandering structures are in fact very focused and intentional. Electronics worm their way into the distorted wall of noise. Tribal drums induce a trance-like state. Operatic female vocal samples feature on a couple of tracks. The music varies between psychotic black metal speed with evil, serpentine riffs along the lines of Leviathan, and slower, more deliberate passages with otherworldly, circular riffs (like a blackened Meshuggah) that find subtle variation, fragmenting and eventually disintegrating as though they themselves can’t hold under the weight of the oppressive atmosphere.

Dark ambient passages break Subconscious Metamorphosis into sections, progressing the listener further down the album’s dark journey.  “Aeon Fears, Pt. III” ends with a bleak sense of melody adorned with subtle use of piano that comes close to being beautiful, were it not walled in by the menacing guitar noise.  Then the penultimate track “Primera Alma” erupts in the midst of the promise of resolution, a mechanical, industrial attack of dissonance that sounds like the soundtrack for the destruction of mankind by its own machines. A vocal sample that is difficult to discern underneath the noise calls to mind the industrial claustrophobia of Axis of Perdition. The final track is ambient distortion that at one point sounds like a distant swarm of buzz bombers, before ending the album almost as suddenly as it began.

This is simply a fantastic album that is as arresting as it is unsettling. It’s perhaps not as groundbreaking as The Work Which Transforms God or Si Monumentum…, but I would make the bold claim that its creativity and power are right up there, especially when it is taken as a whole. For whatever they owe to the spearheads of the third wave, they also display a great amount of originality and craftsmanship.

Every once in a while, a relatively obscure band with slim-to-nonexistent internet presence appears with something phenomenal. For connoisseurs of the new, weird, dark variations on black metal following in the wake of Blut Aus Nord, this should be a no-brainer. For others, it’s good enough that it may be worth a look and an investment of time to truly listen to the album. As for myself, with all of the great metal that’s been released this year it’s hard to say what albums will come out at the top of the pile, but Subconscious Metamorphosis will likely be a heavy contender in 2013.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J. D. Anderson
November 12th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    this sounds like it’d be right up my alley.


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