Sweet Mary-Jane!! Life is pain – drown me in riffs!! Dust off the Amstrad music centre, kick yer Para-boots off, skin-up a fat ‘un, crack open a Tartan bitter and close the curtains. A brand new extended play from everyone’s fave doomsters (down tuned drum roll)…the super-sloths of shite-ology, the heathen priests of frozen black misery: the truly monolithic Lazarus Blackstar. Three solid and meaty tracks of mogadon fuelled dirgecore, seventeen minutes of aural bliss for any lover of top quality funereal doom-sludge.
LB have long been one of the most unique and genuinely powerful of all the bands to emerge from the UK metal underground. Two titanic albums of drop-tuned hell and a welter of absolutely punishing live performances have helped to cement the reputation of this astonishingly stark and brutal outfit. LB have had a wealth of experience too – various members had plied their trade in such monumental legends as Doom, Khang and Medulla Nocte, to name a few. LB are a group with a real blackened pedigree. And it shows, these anti-socials have been re-texturing and redefining a certain blend of UK flavoured sluggish heavy hardcore for years, and they do it better than most. What I particularly love about this lot is that genuinely dark and pissed-off anarcho-punk feel that has been borne out of previous experience serving the UK hardcore ‘scene’, both in sound and in lyrical content.
The true test of any new material from these lot was always going to be the quality of the vocals – I mean who could possibly replace scary-faced psycho-stare Paul Catten, both in the studio and live? Well, guess what, they’ve found someone who can. New member Mikey is a real ‘find’ (which sounds like they found him in a skip in Bradford, trapped under a cracked lavatory, discarded by a death metal builder) who offers a whole new vocal dimension to the band, and who, I’m pleased to report, perfectly compliments the uniquely dark musical vision that is LB.
The disc kicks off with the beautifully titled ‘Tomb Of Internal Winter’. A few seconds of soaring atmospherics then straight into the familiar crushing catharsis that is LB, Mikey ripping out “you’re the witness to my downfall, you turned my insides into ash” from his scorched throat, in a deep and guttural growl. The song proceeds to relentlessly bludgeon my head in for five and a half minutes, complete with a morbidly odd guitar instrumental, ending on a slow and agonising fade. The production (as usual by bassist Bri and the band) is spot-on: loud, clear yet murky (eh?) and very full.
The second track, ‘Son Of Sorrow’ (another grand title), is a real doom classic (I shit you not, acolytes) with a fucking brilliant tri-tone-tastic chord change as Mikey screams “clutch at your shadows as they wander in the sand”. We’re back to the halcyon days of prime Sabbath here. Yep, it’s that good. The verse is propelled on a dry and mournful guitar ‘motif’ that lodges in your brain after a few plays like a piece of a glass bottle left over from the Friday night holocaust. I particularly like the inclusion here of an up-tempo and major scale part (don’t fret, it’s still as heavy as King Kong’s cock) that really lends the song the feel of a ‘proper’ and complete ‘rock’ song. It sounds sad and angry, because it is.
Last track, the vaguely experimental ‘Victim Of The Clergy’, starts with a sample of ecclesiastical choral singing and what sounds like a pig grunting around in shit, which obviously symbolises how repugnant organised religion is. This is a ferociously heavy rant by LB at the vile hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Church, including various spoken samples. The quasi-industrial sound here reminds me of the belligerent majesty and plodding power of early Swans and marks a subtle and interesting change in direction for LB.
This is another superb land-mark release by Future-Noise and offers a tantalising taste of what LB’s third long-player could sound like. Onwards and upwards and ever progressing, LB are the juggernauts of UK doom. ‘Son Of Sorrow’ is an absolute fucking corker and really shows off LB’s song writing nous. The loss of Paul Catten was initially a huge blow because the man is such a singularly original and mesmerising vocal talent, but this EP shows that LB are greater as a unit and indeed as a concept than any of its constituent parts. Acid-throated doom gypsy Mikey is indeed a worthy replacement. Charge your brandy glass and toast this recorded triumph of true UK punk-doom…all hail the new Blackstar, and long may they reign as the crowned kings of gloom.
Label: Future Noise
Scribed by: Adam Stone