Lorn - Subconscious Metamorphosis
I, Voidhanger Records
Atmospheric Black Metal
9 songs (60' 5")
Release year: 2013
I, Voidhanger Records
Reviewed by Andy

In 2012, Italian black metal power trio Lorn did a split with Battle Dagorath, whose latest album I reviewed earlier this year, and they do have a lot in common. Like its split-mate's, Lorn's music is ambient black metal meant to evoke a very specific atmosphere -- in the case of Subconscious Metamorphosis, their newest LP, a sense of vast, cosmic coldness and darkness. They certainly produce an atmosphere, but it's marred by the lack of creativity in their songwriting and an overall sound that simply feels too smooth.

Starting with Definitive Conjunction, one gets a sense of what they consider cosmic. Front man Radok's guitar and synths are tightly joined and heavily layered, but are the most noticeable of the instruments; the bass and drums are buried deeply in the mix to the point that everything but the snare drums are hard to pick out of the mountain of sound that is dumped on the listener -- a mountain that far away seems like one solid mass, but when listened to more closely lets one pick out individual riffs that jut out of the overall assault. This, on both this song and the next, is punctuated by almost silent passages with only a little static to accompany them. Sidereal Synapsis, fading in with ringing guitar, provides an echoing sound with the feeling of a vast space, with minimalist female wails fading in and out; this one, like its two predecessors, is a bit repetitive riff-wise.

That lack of differentiation in Subconscious Metamorphosis is, I think, the main problem. Everything is so blended together in the mix that it's hard to pick anything that stands out, and before long I started getting sleepy listening to it. Fragmented Souls, a quieter instrumental break, is quite welcome after three tracks of such featureless black metal, however, and the Aeon Fears series, two black metal pieces with another quiet instrumental sandwiched in between, are more unique. They never quite lose their repetitious nature, though, and that's unfortunate, especially considering the total loss of the last track, XXI, which consists of nine minutes and eighteen seconds of variable static noise getting slowly louder. Some people might love that, but it feels like a waste of time on a record that already had plenty of static-filled breaks in the main songs. I've sometimes wished for more guitar solos on metal albums, or more songs, or more screams from a singer, but I don't believe I've ever thought at the end of an album "Damn, I wish they'd had some more white noise on this album, that would have made it perfect..."

This isn't an unpleasant album, but there's just not much in the way of a song under all the layers of sound, and those layers are so blended together that it's hard to think of a lot of memorable moments on this one; and obviously, the final track was somewhat of a disappointment to me as well. That being said, the band has some good riffs, they just overuse them and bury them in the depths of the sound, two things that one of their influences, Blut Aus Nord, never did. If they can get past the sickly smoothness of their mix, they will probably have overcome the biggest drawback this album has.

Killing Songs :
The Aeon Fears series were the ones I liked most
Andy quoted 69 / 100
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