Lutharo
Hiraeth

Let’s start off by saying “female-fronted metal” is not a thing. Well, let me walk that back. It’s definitely a THING, it’s just not a genre. If you’re one of those who thinks it is, I pose to you; Do Jinjer, Arch Enemy, Brutus, Nightwish, Capra, Lady Beast, and Cripper all sound the same? I rest my case.

So, if you couldn’t get the hint, Canadian metal band Lutharo has a lady in it. Her name is Krista Shipperbottom. “Ship ‘er bottom? I hardly know ‘er bottom?” That was bad. Let me try again. “Ship ‘er bottom? I think that’s illegal…” That’s better…? Anyway, she has some pipes, and she’s fantastic.

The music itself? Well, the promo says they’re melodic death metal. Metal Archives lists them as heavy/thrash metal. When listening to the music, though, you’re going to form another opinion. The melodic death label applies… sort of. By that, I mean the elements are there in a, well, let’s be honest, a metalcore kind of way. So, if you’re not into that sub-genre, you should pack your bags and move on, friend.

When I mean metalcore, I’m not talking about the chug fests that spawned deathcore, such as August Burns Red and Parkway Drive. I’m referring to the more vocal-driven variety, such as with The Agonist. In the first official track, “To Kill or to Crave,” you’ll see what I mean, with some melodic death metal riffing, but a definite good cop/bad cop vocal approach. None of this would matter and we’d probably already be finished talking about it if the vocals, specifically in the chorus weren’t fantastic. In other words, they are, and that chorus hook is infectious. Try not to get it stuck in your head.

When I mentioned above about melodic death metal, I meant it. On track 3, “What Sleeps in Your Mind,” this reference makes sense to fans of Children of Bodom. Of course, you wouldn’t hear Alexi belt out a chorus like Ms. Shipperbottom. Just check out that lead right after the “ALL RIGHT.” There’s a decent breakdown, and the kicker here is that the chorus in track 3 might be even better than the previous.

There are other elements on display besides the melodic death metal and metalcore ones. On track 5, “Worship Your Path,” I am reminded of Unleash The Archers, especially with that beginning. On this track, Ms. Shipperbottom gets to show off her upper range a little bit, too, and it’s a treat.

The melodic death metal elements are front and center on track 7, “Valley of the Curse,” at least with that blasting beginning. The vocals still have that good cop/bad cop quality, specifically with the “bad cop” coming in during the blasting sections. Paired with the next track, “In Silence We Reign,” which has some early All That Remains elements, these are the two most formulaic, but still enjoyable straight metalcore tracks on display.

The last track, “Lost in a Soul,” is over 7 minutes long, and begins with a subdued instrumental section because of course it does. However, it doesn’t drag, and you get to hear the melodic call and response vocals almost immediately. A good chorus is the norm here, so that’s no surprise, but the middle instrumental section leading back into the chorus, is a nice curveball, despite it not lasting long. This song also has potentially the best solo on the entire album, which is saying something, as they’re all good.

At the end of the day, yeah, you’ve heard this before. What sets this apart, however, are the songs, as they’re all very good. In a style that has been done successfully many times and doesn’t seem to have a lot of life in it, that’s the most important part. The pros are that this is fantastic metalcore, with a lot of focus of the melodic death metal elements, obviously more in the instrumentation than the vocals. The cons are that, well, if you’re not into metalcore at all, I doubt this changes your mind, unfortunately. It’s one of the best metalcore albums I have heard in quite some time, but Light The Torch takes that throne for the best one so far this year. Another slight downfall is that its runtime approaches 50 minutes. It’s not egregious, but still falls in the “con” category. The good news is that the album doesn’t at all drag, so the nearly 50 minutes are not wasted. I would recommend tightening it up a little next time, but, regardless, this is a hell of a debut.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
September 17th, 2021

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