RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

Locrian: The Clearing

img  Tobias Fischer

The Clearing, the fourth album by Chicago-based trio Locrian, is a collection of icy, nightmarish soundscapes that move from sparse, ambient textures to suffocating explosions of guitar distortion and distant, anguished screams. Straddling black metal, drone, industrial music, experimental electronica, and classic rock, the album paints a picture of a horrifying and hopeless post-apocalyptic world.

“Chalk Point” opens the record in typical black metal fashion. A cloud of manipulated cymbal sounds and distant distortion slowly coagulates into an increasingly malignant presence. Reverb-heavy drum hits sound sparingly around an ominous low-end piano ostinato. And then there’s the epic kick in: a thunderstorm of guitars and a choral-like chant that wouldn’t be out of place at a satanic ritual. Lead guitars spiral around one another, bringing to mind the primal psychedelia of Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd.

It’s an interestingly conventional starting point for an album that becomes increasingly abstract, relying less on the “slow build” convention of black metal and more on textural experimentation and moody ambiance. “Augury in an Evaporating Tower” moves from dense, twisting synths and the sounds of a malfunctioning computer to tortured screams and a buzzing field of distortion. “Coprolite” layers a strummed acoustic guitar reminiscent of Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely” over a grid of turned down, detuned distortion and the faint sounds of bowed strings. Both pieces have little in the way of harmonic development or melody, and function more as psychological states then they do “musical works.”

The album’s closer, “The Clearing,” takes the psychological element a step further. Beginning with an uneasy and incessant bass note repetition, the song takes the listener on a 17-minute tour of an industrial hell. Distant screams sound over an increasingly dissonant backdrop of metallic groans. A heartbeat-like bass drum underpins fields of white noise with a death march insistence. Textures change abruptly, as if you’re walking down a hallway past different chambers, each with its own grotesque interior.

There’s no doubt that Locrian is a group that has mastered the art of imbuing their art with maximum psychological charge. The songs of The Clearing wouldn’t be out of place in a B horror movie or spine-tingling sci-fi flick. That said, the band manages to pull of its sense of extreme trauma without sounding kitsch or derivative of a bygone era of leather jackets and spiked collars. These guys mean every bit of what they’re playing. And that’s terrifying.

By Hannis Brown

Homepage: Locrian
Homepage: Fan Death Records

Related articles

Orn: "Teeth/Knowing"; Izah: "Finite Horizon/Crevice"
Choosing their weapons carefully: Natural ...
Metal Visions International 6
A planet forged of steel: ...
Review/ Akta / Shimetsu: "Split MCD"
Overwhelmingly powerful: Two Grindcore discoveries ...
CD Feature/ Lawn: "Silver"
A former background in Stoner ...
CD Feature/ Transitional: "Nothing Real, Nothing Absent"
Downwardly bound Overtures to an ...
Random Stabbings 31
February's interesting records, subjectively compiled ...

Partner sites