Australian rockers Lo! are not exactly newcomers having started in 2006 but it has taken a few years before their powerful sound has finally caught on. Everything has a time and theirs looks like being now with the release of their debut album Look And Behold via Pelagic Records, the crushing sludge/hardcore/ black sounds within ready to invade the senses of a much wider audience. The Sydney quartet came to the attention of the Pelagic owner Robin Staps with their 2010 debut EP, he becoming enthused with them after hearing its staggering sounds, now with his label unveiling the band to a much bigger arena it is hard to imagine anything less than wave upon wave of eager fans flocking their way.
The first thing apparent with the music of LO! is the diversity in the band’s music, their forceful sound a heady mix of thumping riffs and rhythms impregnated with creative melodies and intriguing directions and detours within songs. The members are no newcomers to music and it shows with a confidence and sureness to their songwriting and ability as well as the variety they bring. Formed by guitarist Carl Whitbread after the demise of his previous band Omerata, he explains the diverse sound, “Having quite a diverse range in musical tastes (everything from death metal, to electro, to classical), I wanted to find a way to bring my favourite elements from different genres into the music, without it sounding like a blatant mish-mash of styles”. Adding the combined power and skills of bassist Adrian Shapiro, drummer Adrian Griffin, and the threatening intense vocals of Jamie-Leigh Smith, the band have unleashed a sound that grabs more than just attention.
A brief atmospheric instrumental ‘Hath’ opens the album, the first of a trio (‘Seraphim’ and ‘Doth’ the others) throughout the release that bring a respite to the intensity elsewhere, not that they are interludes, they add an extra atmospheric element that brings the ferocity in the other tracks even more into focus. The first full track ‘Deluge (Carnivorous Flux)’, shows the aggressive tracks are not just about power and sonically hammering sounds. These songs are infused with melodic and striking elements that never become ordinary or expected and always engage as deeply as the tracks intensity delves. The track comes in with an immediate eagerness to challenge; predatory riffs from the driving guitars and the hardcore vocal attack show a band with intent to bring music that is unpredictable and testing but ultimately always satisfying.
As mentioned the songs come with their own distinct flavours with not one slipping below the band’s high standard. Though kindred in aggression and deliberation the distinctiveness to songs is very rewarding, whether the sludge/ hardcore blend of ‘Bastion’ veined with irresistible light grooves or the incessant sonic groove of ‘Aye, Commodore’ that teases and plays with the senses as pleading growls shout out, all songs gratify gloriously.
The musicianship is impressive, with groaning dark basslines and ominously heavy riffs alongside rhythms that crumble defences. The tracks often have a mischief quality to their energy resulting in something even more addictive and engaging. The dark aggressive ‘Indigo Division’ and ‘Moira Kindle’, which carries a wonderful melodic Faith No More feel from the start, are both stunning examples of their wicked intent with their wanton sounds.
Look And Behold is a complete joy and though there is the feeling of much more to come from the band even within the release itself, it shows a band now and certainly ahead that will leave a definite mark on metal. Lo! have taken time to come into view but they are determined to stay there and with releases like this it is a formality.
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