Locrian - The Clearing/The Final Epoch
Blackened noise/drone
Disc 1: 4 songs (38:57) Disc 2: 5 songs (51:40)
Release year: 2012
Reviewed by Charles
Like a great many of metal’s more avant-garde bands Locrian are pretty prolific. I guess that being in your own creative bubble, content to let interested parties come to you rather than seek out an audience, means you can plug away with your own vision unencumbered. This is actually their first release on Relapse, and receiving the email promo was my first proper exposure to their music- though, if you follow the edgier fringes of the metal world you will likely be familiar with the name. The Clearing was released at the end of last year but now emerges with some intriguing bonus tracks tagged on to the end under the guise of The Final Epoch. Thus, the two discs here take up 90 minutes- a challenging listening task, to say the least.

Even more so than Horseback, with whom they share a label and have collaborated on splits, Locrian’s music appears as the aural equivalent of a painter’s mixing palettes. Any number of influences and ideas are hinted at, but always with restraint and curiosity as to what the result will be. The purpose here is a skilled manipulation of textures, through subtle crescendos and unsettling ambiance. Horseback’s brilliant Half Blood was a bit more accessible because it incorporated bright, jazz fusion-influenced tones that reminded me almost of a (slightly tamer) Bitches Brew sound. This, though, is more introverted still, tending to crack, hiss and fuzz with a lesser emphasis on ear-catching instrumentation.

Chalk Point is an appropriate opener, given that it is probably the album’s most immediate “song”. It has a sinister, looping piano riff bringing to mind Culted or sometime collaborators (and Aaron Turner project) Mamiffer, but with a thudding backbeat that also puts it in the same sphere of influence as Neurosis. After this, though, the rest of The Clearing becomes an intense but abstract electronic haze. Augury in an Evaporating Tower is a seven minute emission of static, which first crescendos, supported by frenetic but faded-out drum paddling, but then drifts apart into a formless vacuum of feedback-stained lead guitar fragments. The acoustic strumming of Coprolite might suggest a subdued influence from someone like Agalloch, but this again sinks down into a fuzzy sump.

The Final Epoch side pushes the net a bit wider. Nothing here has the insolent pulsating industrial feel of, say The Haxan Cloak’s latest (which I will review another time), but the clear, chiming electronic tones of tracks like The Omega Vapors have a mocking, almost nursery rhyme-like quality. It also sometimes veers back towards abstract metal ideas, with Fallen Towers a prolonged rumble of abrasive guitar chords. At its best, like on the eponymous first track of this side, the ambient noise that soaked The Clearing is tightly curled into a masterclass in restrained dynamics, allowing softer electronic bleeps to surface above an elongated robotic exhalation. A deep, dark record.

Killing Songs :
Chalk Point, The Omega Vapors, The Final Epoch
Charles quoted no quote
Other albums by Locrian that we have reviewed:
Locrian - Infinite Dissolution reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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