Lotus Thrones full-length debut Lovers In Wartime made the number one spot in my The Sleeping Shaman Top Ten of 2021. The mark of a classic record is whether it still stands up to scrutiny and for me it resoundingly does nearly two years after the fact. Since then, we have had the brilliant four seasonal EP’s, which I also covered for these hallowed pages, all of whom showcased further musical diversity with nods to genres such as post-metal, synthwave and doom.
The latest effort, The Heretic Souvenir, is Lotus Thrones sophomore release and if the artwork looks more than a little familiar that’s because its once again by the talented Toby Verhines.
Gore Orphanage, whose theme focuses around Jisei, the farewell poem to life, opens with some sublime piano before becoming a good deal heavier. The promo notes describe the album’s genre as being ‘riff-laden industrial post-punk’ and that is certainly typified on this track. There is a crunch to this number that sets you up nicely for the album to come.
B0T0XDR0NE$ features the talents of Bruce Lamont on saxophone and really highlights Lotus Thrones strength in combining incredibly dense and bleak industrial Swans style pummelling with sensual Bohren & Der Club of Gore noir jazz. Seeing as I’m a huge fan of both styles, to say I was delighted would be an understatement. Heath Rave in fact mentions in the song’s description that Lamont ‘will always be a de facto member of Lotus Thrones’, to which I say amen brother, long may the collaborations continue!
Alpha Centauri taps into Rave‘s Neurosis/post-metal influences as well as some massive riffs that recall Celtic Frost/Triptykon. There is a density to the track that is undeniably engaging. Glassed is an instrumental and the shortest track on the album. It’s a love letter to hardcore punk and crust influenced black metal and tips its hat to both Bad Brains and Darkthrone. Although Rave had covered the former’s I And I Survive on Lovers In Wartime, this is by far the most direct hardcore sounding Lotus Thrones track to date. It’s certainly the fastest and is demonstrative of an artist unafraid to experiment and challenge people’s perceptions. Absolutely spectacular.
An engrossing and exceptional piece of work…
Roses meanwhile according to the promo-notes is a tribute to love, and by extension his daughter Matilda. Very touching. It’s a big bombastic rock song but done in Rave‘s uniquely imitable style. If you are reading this and are concerned about him gone all Guns ‘N’ Roses or even Sonic Temple era The Cult, fear not, there is still enough dirt under the fingernails for the faithful. Think Orgasmatron as covered by Sepultura instead.
At eleven and a half minutes, Autumn Of The Heretic Souvenir is the album’s longest track by quite some distance and is of a glacial pace. As with Alpha Centauri, it once again taps heavily into Neurosis, albeit with some post-punk Joy Division style influences thrown in. It’s a monumental track and one that requires multiple listens so its full scale can be appreciated.
Nautilus is a fascinating listen, Lamont‘s mournful sax skills blend brilliantly with the almost trip-hop sound ala Portishead. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise seeing as Lotus Thrones covered that band’s track Cowboys in a split single with Deeper Graves (who did Roads). Another instrumental and one which concludes the record on a blissful ambient note.
Heath had set the bar high with Lovers In Wartime, however, The Heretic Souvenir has exceeded my expectations and then some. An engrossing and exceptional piece of work.
Scribed by: Reza Mills