Like a venomously disgruntled nest of vindictive hornets, In the Shadow of the Colossus the new album from Swedish metallers Pray For Locust swarms over senses and imagination with hordes of vitriolic grooves, ravenous sonics, and most of all an inventive viciousness which is predatory in its more restrained moments alone. The second full-length from the Stockholm quintet is simply magnificent, a gripping maliciousness which stands amongst many in fusing metal and hardcore but alone in sound and enterprise.
Formed in 2009, Pray for locust has earned a more than decent reputation and loyal following with their live performances and debut album Swarm of 2010. It is safe to say though that the successor to the album and well-received Into the Ocean EP of two years ago is the band’s finest moment and the realisation of their place to the fore of raw, creatively antagonistic metal. Self-produced and mastered by Ronnie Björnström (Aeon, Live Elephant, Hate Ammo), the Discouraged Records released ravager is an exceptional beast with the potential to inspire.
The album seizes total attention right away as opener Bat Country wraps a sonic squall around ears before the band erupts into an intensive persuasion of savage riffery and similarly destructive rhythms. It swipes the cobwebs away from thoughts and emotions immediately, the heavyweight metallic voracity of the track a potent co-conspirator with its hardcore roar. Vocalist Tintin Andersen drives the encounter to a new causticity upon the entrance of his uncompromising lyrical brawls and passion drenched tones, adding to the consuming immensity of the fury caging the listener. It is a masterful concoction, brief sonic hooks and longer lingering grooves superbly littering the muscular rage sculpted magnetically by guitarists Jerry Engström and Stefan Schyberg whilst the inventive rhythmic assault of Simon Corner cages and bewitches with another soaking of cruelty.
The towering start is just a warm up though as This Blackened Sky digs deeper and thrusts further into the passions with its contagious brilliance. Swirling sonic laces entangle the imagination initially, rhythms and vocals courting the intrigue with vengeful rapaciousness before the track settles into a darker and restrained parading of its animosity and imposing narrative. It is not long though before the urgency returns with uncompromising intent but it is happy to share time and space with the ‘gentler’ intrusiveness whilst also inviting a raw and infection driven swagger to help launch the chorus. The variation of vocals is also as incendiary and welcome as the revolving invention in sound and gait, it all ensuring every second, each twist of the track is irresistibly toxic.
Both Dead Mans Curse and Reap What You Sow provide rich fuel to the fire for the release ignited in the passions, the first cored by a understated but potent throaty bass suasion from Kvasi, a prowling agonist with a death metal scented malignancy. The bass provides a great snarl and depth to this, and to all songs to be fair but often elsewhere it is immersed in the mix too much for personal tastes but certainly here makes an open impact. The second of the pair of songs seems to take inspiration from the loftily soaring hostile flames and emotive enticements of its predecessor and spills a resourcefully dramatic provocation to its implacable body and invigorating body. Grooves writhe and seduce throughout the tempest, encouraging and tempering the anger of sound and vocals simultaneously in another excitingly shifting savaging. It is not as concerned with atmosphere and melodies as the previous songs but employs the same unpredictable and extensive ingenuity within its ferocity.
Talking of ferocious, the word hardly does justice to the wrath of Ten Thousand Dead, its heart bred from the purest punk hatred and structured with a multi-flavoured metal furore and endeavour which bands like Meshuggah, Lamb Of God, and Cancer Bats would devour. The following Our Last Breath continues in similar vein after emerging from provocative shadows clad in waiting predation. That fierce rabidity needs little waiting time though to charge as sinews and intensity overpowers the senses. Its rampage is additionally coloured by addictive sonic spirals and a rhythmic buffeting which splinters with resonating malice upon collision with ears. Twisting and flirting at times with blistering imagination, the bruising storm re-confirms the strength of the album and startling craft of the band.
God of the Underworld flies for the throat with metalcore tendencies aligned to melodic poison next, vocals again an impressively varied enticement enriching the hues of the unrelentingly ingenious battle, whilst the following Statement spits and rages with merciless intensity, hardcore and metal merging for a raucous malevolence which enslaves thoughts and emotions brutally and completely. Though neither song quite lives up to earlier tracks, it is the excellence of songs before which is the difference and not any lack of invention and potent lures within the pair.
The album concludes with the ravenous and exhaustive virulence of Bad Blood and lastly Heroin Eyes, the first a glorious imaginative corrosion which rips the throat from emotions. The final song is a thrilling barbarous pillaging not quite matching the last song but bringing In the Shadow of the Colossus to a tremendous if not as memorable finale. Overall the album is a scorching agitator, one scintillating in sound and craft whilst providing an encounter which leaves psyche and senses basking in an enterprise rarely heard in the majority of hardcore bred releases. There is no need to watch out for Pray For Locust as after the album hits the world it will be impossible to avoid their storming presence we suspect.
In the Shadow of the Colossus is available via Discouraged Records now!
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