Review: Lotus Thrones ‘Vernal’ EP

Another season brings with it another related seasonal Lotus Thrones EP, this time it’s Vernal or Spring, relating to Springtime. As per the preceding releases in the series Hibernal and Autumnal, Vernal utilises the artwork of the supremely talented Toby Verhines, or Shadow Cartography as he’s known on Instagram. The concept surrounding the cover according to Rave is femininity and a representation of creation, seeing as this is a time of birth for many species of birds, otters, deer and rabbits, this certainly ties in nicely to the theme intonated by the cover. Of course, being a spring baby, I’m willing to admit to having a little bias for the season.

Lotus Thrones 'Vernal' EP

The EP once again features the talents of Disorder Recordings owner & Deeper Graves/Chrome Waves main man Jeff Wilson who assists on bass, lap steel and ebow, while Heath Rave plays guitar, vocals, drums and synth. Following Rave on social media I was also unsurprised to see that Vernal has been mastered by Will Benoit of SOM, a band for whom he has a particular fondness.

Oh Marauder, which opens the release, is about the invasion of Ukraine but also war in general. Rave‘s own land doesn’t escape his ire either as to quote him in his recent conversation with me, the US in their righteousness ‘sees itself as helping while we’ve destroyed other places’. Fair point. The track is the kind of pummelling gloomy post-metal that one has come to expect from Lotus Thrones, however, given the current situation between Russia and Ukraine, it brings with it an additional level of poignancy.

Crickets reminds me of Joy Division’s Atmosphere, (a track that was that band’s penultimate release before Ian Curtis’ death) and it shares a similar sense of finality. In addition, the drumming is somewhat reminiscent to me of Stephen Morris’ own krautrock influenced approach while the vocals echoed Curtis’ own resigned tones around the time of the aforementioned single. A sense of hopelessness therefore permeates the track, although it in no way hampers one’s enjoyment of it.

an artist who cares not a jot for musical boundaries…

So You Fancy Yourself A Gumshoe? at nearly nine minutes is the longest number on the EP, and for those not up on North American informal vernacular, a gumshoe is a detective. This is a very different sound for Lotus Thrones, far more warm, ethereal, and even yearning, giving a distinct nod to shoegaze ala Slowdive and even to space-rock/alt-rockers Failure. This is a gorgeous track indicative of a musician at the top of their artistic game.

Like me, Rave has a love of quality 1980s new wave, and it doesn’t get any more so than INXS and his interpretation of Mediate from the multimillion dollar selling Kick album. One of the more understated and perhaps less known songs from that record, the video itself was a tribute to Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues. Rave does a pretty good job of covering it here, maintaining its low-key vibe and not overdramatising it, making it the ideal track with which to conclude this, his latest release.

There was never really any doubt that I would enjoy Vernal, but I didn’t expect to still be surprised by it. A willingness to further experiment with other genres such as shoegaze and cover (in the eyes of purists) a band as populist and ‘mainstream’ as INXS shows me an artist who cares not a jot for musical boundaries. Such fearlessness is to be admired and is one of many reasons why you should be investing your hard-earned cash into this EP. Roll on the summer instalment!

Label: Disorder Recordings
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills