Grrrrr!!!! You hear that? That’s the sound of frustration that is, total frustration! So why are you frustrated I hear you ask? Well, let me tell you. My response to music, and I suspect this applies to most people, is twofold. On the one hand you have the objective view: can I listen to this and appreciate the musical ability of the musicians, the compositional skill, the production…etc? On the other hand you have the emotional response: does this music thrill me, does it make me feel anything or does it leave me feeling cold? Now, some albums can fall a little short in certain areas objectively…a band doesn’t necessarily have to be great musicians to be great song writers nor do they necessarily require a great production to get their point across (Iggy and The Stooges Raw Power album anyone?). However, personally speaking, no matter how accomplished a band may be, if they don’t hit that emotional level then it just doesn’t really cut it.
Let’s look at the positives first. Lo-Pan are a band that, beyond all shadow of doubt, have their shit well and truly together. The playing ability of the guys involved right the way through can not be questioned. Similarly they have a knack of writing very strong, punchy riffs that are capped off with powerful vocals and insistent, memorable melodies. This is a band that have honed their craft to perfection. They clearly work as a tight unit and know exactly how to deliver their sound and craft their songs. Like wise they have achieved a warm, fat production that gives their sound weight and definition. In many ways I am unable to fault Lo-Pan and their ability to great strong stoner influenced heavy rock.
However, and you knew this was coming, if I look at this album on an emotional level, it is a very different story. Now, this is where objectivity and taste can be wildly divergent beasts. I know I am listening to a very strong album by a great band, and I know a shit ton of people will absolutely fall over this album. For me though, it does very little in terms of grabbing and maintaining my interest. Maybe I expect a little more dirt in my music, a little more of an element of unpredictability…maybe a little more heart than head. This is a very considered album to my ears, one that’s really been thought about and finely tuned but, to me, it feels as though it lacks a certain amount of heart. Now, I can’t stress enough that this is purely a matter of personal taste and opinion and in no way derogatory to the band and the tastes of others who will lap this album up in their droves. If I’m brutally honest, I recall hearing previous albums by Lo-Pan and thinking they sounded great at the time, yet I have never once revisited them to listen to in the same way I might with a band such as Roadsaw or Wild Eyes.
So, despite my reservations and personal view, I know this is a fantastic album in so many ways and I know if you’re into powerful, driving, stoner influenced heavy rock that is big on riffs and melodies and gut punching grooves then this album will thrill you. And thereby lies the root of all music appreciation, listen to it for yourselves and make your own judgements and feel free to ignore the curmudgeonly ramblings of a jaded old fart like me!
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall