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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Locrian

Infinite Dissolution

Review by Mike Korn

I will leave it to wiser heads than mine when it comes to categorizing Locrian. They do not fit any particular genre box neatly. On Infinite Dissolution, the guitars are louder and more abrasive than the band has been known for in the past, but you cannot call this metal. There is sometimes the harsh mechanical feel of industrial music but that also doesn’t describe the band. Some moments are peaceful and wistful…but then there’s that heavier edge again. Is it progressive rock? Not any known form of it that I can think of. I can use one word to wholeheartedly describe what these musical alchemists create: “atmospheric.”

Infinite Dissolution is an album about the concept of extinction. That is something we will all be getting a lot more familiar with in upcoming years. Locrian manages to capture the sadness and outrage and finality of extinction here in many forms. Vocals only play a peripheral part. These sound constructions are meticulously put together and capture so many feelings, it’s impossible to describe. This is one of the best and most mind-expanding works of the year.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Arc of Extinction

Harsh waves of electric guitar initiate us to the world of Infinite Dissolution. A wordless vocal chorus sings a doleful tune.  Thudding drumbeats come in and pick up velocity. This sounds like a hymn to something awful. Then a crushing riff enters like a ton of bricks while a hollow screaming voice echoes in agony. This is Locrian at their most metallic, with echoes of black metal in the song construction. This is a huge cataclysmic song.

Dark Shales

Dark waves of synth give this a mysterious feeling to start. Then tribal drumming and clean electric guitar add rhythm. Not as overwhelming as the first track, this has a different, more enveloping feel that builds up intensity layer by layer.  “Arc of Extinction” was a song of rage; this is more of a song of regret.

KXL I

Eerie electronic sounds and phantom drumbeats create an otherworldly feel. Simple single note guitar begins to play…ghostly voices seem to echo in the wind. Again the band adds more and more layers of sound. Harsher electric guitar plays in a loop. The ghost voices get louder and more insistent. About 2/3s in there’s a very noticeable increase in volume and harshness, which builds to an almost unbearable level and finally fades out. The band’s ability to put great emotion into basically wordless soundscapes is amazing.

The Future of Death

The shortest track so far, this begins with crunching and rumbling sounds. Bright synthesizers chime in and then dark, expansive guitar with screaming vocals. There’s some anger in this song, but it has a very futuristic and “open” feel to it as well.

An Index of Air

Huge metallic droning like a hive of robot bees kicks this off…a giant mass of sound backed with simple drumbeats. This is an all-encompassing sound that explodes into a furious pounding and more of those screaming, agonized vocals. “Immense” and “oppressive” are words that come to mind after hearing this epic.

KXL II

The crackle of radio static and the chirping of birds fill the speakers. Then there is a very sad sort of string melody that is repeated and forms the backbone of the song. That melody sounds like something that is coming from a very long time ago, an antique age and it is unutterably tragic.

The Great Dying

This is the more atmospheric and subdued side of Locrian. It is a soundscape of hushed sound, quiet voices and droning synth that sounds like a landscape haunted by the spirits of extinct creatures. Listen carefully to this, and you will know what wizards these guys are at assembling many subtle elements into one big picture. This builds intensity so gradually that you may not be aware of it until the drums become more insistent and howling guitar tones make their presence known. When the song “breaks,” it’s a breath-taking moment.

Heavy Water

Pulsing waves of synthesizer drive this track. It’s another haunting subtle tune. Guitar and drums make their appearance, and there are some of those screaming vocals but pushed back so far into the mix that they sound more ambient than human. Again this has such a sad feeling to it.

KXL III
This is a very brief soundscape that uses simple tones drenched in effects.  It ends with a wash of pure sound. One age of life comes to an end as another maybe begins…
 
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