Hailing from Boston Massachusetts, Lunar Ark make music that is as hard hitting as the city’s reputation. From Martin Scorsese crime epic The Departed to the recent Netflix drama Black Mass, the New England landmark has cultivated an air of toughness that is dominated by its stifling Catholic influence. Here at the end times, with global chaos through disease, environmental disasters and hyper capitalism the human race seems poised in frustration ready to eat itself and burn the world it inhabits.
Lunar Ark, the savage post-metal/sludge doom quartet are an uncompromising sonic howl into the void. Describing themselves as left leaning politically, anti-capitalist and anti-racist, they have been making seismic rumblings since 2019 in the form of the twisted sounds of a demo and 2020’s Homecoming/Apostasy EP. Now they debut their powerful three track full length mission statement in the form of fuzz drenched gloom that channels the darkest elements of humanity.
Torch And Spear, the first of the epic, progressive offerings wastes no time in getting down to business. The swirling drone of the introduction gives way to slow, ringing doom punctuated with rasping, tortured vocals lamenting the fate of the world. Deliciously lo-fi, it creeps with blackened sludge that plods with Indian like menace. Sinister melodic guitar snakes over the top of the cavernous riffing and pounding drums as the track slowly drags itself through chord progressions that seem destined to collapse under the weight of the oppressive nature. That is until a blackgaze like vibrato break lightens the music, providing a brief respite from the seemingly unrelenting dirge, before the band turn the screws again and build the tension.
Segueing into a sample from writer Henry Miller on his unflattering opinion of New York, which seems like a comment on wider society, they express their disgust at the world on Freedom Fever Dream. Starting at a crawl it breaks into a faster, lumbering track centred around an almost upbeat drum tattoo with on the edge defiant screams that, in another universe, could almost be considered a catchy groove if not for the pure filth it revels in.
Deliciously lo-fi, it creeps with blackened sludge that plods with Indian like menace…
At the midway point it breaks into a mellow, almost indie light section with clean singing that has a mournful beauty, despite the greasiest sounding bass this side of Paul Barker on Filth Pig era Ministry’s output. This doesn’t last long however as the band return with full force and round the track out with glacial doom that will have you break out the full sky claw.
The final stop on this near fifty-minute masterclass in misery is the crushingly heavy Guillotine. Just shy of the twenty-minute mark, the track encompasses much of what has gone before, incorporating more drone to the mix, Lunar Ark sign off with the slowest of the three, sounding like the cries of a man beating his fists against the wall and clawing for a way out of the hell that surrounds him. Once more the light touch and indie sensibility surface to try to offer relief and a hopeful ending to the album as the last third seeks to combine this melody with the feral despair that preceded it.
Whilst not initially as varied or enticing as the first two tracks, the dying moments of Reoccurring Nightmare draw a surprisingly satisfying end to the album that is well worth sticking around for.
Lunar Ark are a tough band. Their style is often as repulsing as it is appealing, and for that, it makes for a great listen. As a huge fan of blackened sludge, it’s easy to tread water in the genre and their sophomore release sees them reach new heights which I thoroughly enjoyed. Available on CD and digital formats through Trepanation Recordings and on cassette via Realm And Ritual (North America)/Lunar Seas (Europe), so if you’re looking to scratch your itch for intelligent but nihilistic angst towards the modern world. you could just find your new favourite champions.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden