Music Reviews
Drenched Lands

Locrian Drenched Lands

(At War With False Noise/Small Doses) Rating - 7/10

It’s hard not to think of low-budget horror films, where gore at its most raw grotesquery captivates audiences with bottom rung actors slathering hamburger meat and maple syrup across mangled latex flesh.  The audience is so blissfully aware that none of this is real, but subconsciously bothered by its almost documentary like delivery.  Who’s to say that this isn’t real?  Is it so easy to trick your mind into believing what it sees?  What it hears?  What it experiences in the abstract and in the physical world? 

I hear the screaming, like from some distant cellar whose walls trigger fear, with excessive organ couplets, steam and erratic Velvet Underground licks almost taunting the victim to continue calling out in agony. 

No, it’s not real.  But, it could be.  And, though my mind wasn’t tricked, I still felt ill at ease.

Locrian, a metal duo from Chicago, specializes in this sort of B-grade generation of dread and sorrow.  Their new album, Drenched Lands, is evocative of the kind of inspired darkness that Scott Walker’s modern work or Sunn O)))’s stretched soundscapes both embody, its make-up a cohesive storyline with essential chapters telling a story whose premise remains a bleak mystery with nary a happy ending to count on. 

Like Sunn O))), Locrian can be appreciated for their abstract variations on an underlying musical identity.  Their music is categorically metal, but pensively ambient.  It doesn’t drone, but instead wallows in its own prison.  Haunts, maybe.  There’s both a physically realistic and otherworldliness to the sounds Locrian create, as if to say that neither are separate, that life is hell, or that our plain of existence is based in the dark realm of the netherworld. 

Whether you believe that or not isn’t relevant, because once you listen, you’re a participant in their vision, following the plot until the thirty minutes of Greyfield Shrines close out your entire experience.

The album is bookended by the guitar requiem, Obsolete Elegy In Effluvia and Dross, and its wall-of-sound counterpart, Obsolete Elegy In Lost Concrete.  The chord is striking and lonesome, leading into the eerie hum of Ghost Repeater, whose static multiplies until Barren Temple Obscured by Contaminated Fogs supplies the album its anxiety.

Taking somewhat of a cue from Kevin Shields and Sonic Youth, Epicedium builds itself out of rugged feedback and intricate guitar melody, an interesting turn in an album otherwise preoccupied with tone and atmosphere.  It’s the track that reminds you that this is music, and not just an excuse to make guitars howl in an effort to scare the shit out of you. 

But, as Drenched Lands proves an uneasy story, the album possesses an odd level of comfort despite its ethereal chaos.  It could be that the album pulsates with a sublime dread, one that simultaneously sprouts gooseflesh while begging admiration.  It could be that ambient sounds tend to make one drift, even if they are loud and ominous. 

Or, it could be that I know none of it’s real, my mind relaxed and certain that once the album ends, the world Locrian have created will cease.

And, though my mind isn’t tricked, I still feel ill at ease.