Lycus – Tempest

Fortunately, against all reasonable odds, there is always someone around the world who, stricken by who knows what strange disease, from one day to the next decides to start playing a slow, oppressive music with almost no chance of reaching other ears than those of a very small circle of people: this music is funeral doom. Lycus hails from Oakland and, judging by the pictures found on the web, would appear to be quite young; likely, then, that when Thergothon appeared on the planet, ours were at best still cute little kids busy having fun on sunny California beaches and completely unaware of what the future would hold for them. The juxtaposition with the seminal Finns is a must, since Lycus‘ funeral doom takes its cues from some of their most illustrious disciples, such as Evoken, Asunder, Colosseum and Mournful Congregation, and I can vouch for the fact that such comparisons are anything but bold or rash. Tempest is, in fact, a record immersed to the core in those “ancient” sounds, which have been branded with drone by those who have managed to manipulate this magmatic matter by making it “Art”; also thanks to this, it seems natural to consider the California boys the full-fledged heirs of the now-disbanded fellow citizens Asunder. Such as Burn, which opens the triptych of tracks forming part of the record, from the very first deadly note, shows how Lycus are able to handle the insidious element with unsuspected mastery, grinding out mournful riffs supported by a catacomb-like growl, which is sometimes flanked by scream or choral tones; feelings surface several times that bring back memories of the late Juhani Palomaki’s Colosseum, particularly in their ability to always keep the melodic sense of the song well in mind despite the merciless unfolding of instrumental litanies. The following tracks, Engravings and the title track, contribute decisively to the success of this album, also attesting to the excellent level of the opening track; only the choice of entrusting the closing of Tempest to a good seven minutes of aseptic ambient drone, frankly entirely avoidable, is not entirely convincing. Appreciable, on the other hand, is the choice instead to diversify the rhythms from time to time, as happens with the black-like rant (complete with abrasive scream) always positioned within this last track. All in all, Lycus, with this their debut album, present themselves as one of the newest and brightest realities of the funeral scene; only time, which is definitely on their side, will be able to tell us, however, if they will be able to retrace the footsteps of the bands they were inspired by and who have made history in this genre.

2013 – 20 Buck Spin