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Friday, January 9, 2015

Album Review: Lotus Thief – Rervm

The San Francisco-based duo, Bezalith and Otrebor, have taken a side-step here from their other band, Botanist, to write an album inspired by the 1st Century BC materialist text De Rerum Natura. It translates as The Nature Of Things and is by the Roman philosophical poet Titus Lucretius Carus. Each track represents one of the six books of the text and guides us through them by pitching progressive black metal at ambient space rock.

“Aeternum” switches between a thick pummeling groove and a psychedelic dropout where a soft, echoed vocal threads its way around warm bass. These are instant shifts in tone from dark minor chords to a music with an effervescent lightness of touch. It’s a far cry from the more visceral black thrash of “Miseras” where a series of vocal passages more akin to Messianic chanting coat everything. And both these tracks are stretched further, the former by the closing sounds of morning and evening birdsong and the latter by the incessant alert of a life monitor flat-lining.

Moving on, “Discere Credas” tears out a feisty riff and follows it up with an overtly simple rhythm. Left there to run its course, the track could have tanked, but Lotus Thief pull at it and toy with its structure to create something far more interesting. It’s a pattern that continues as they throw iconic sound effects in among the gossamer-thin layers. After, the spaced-out majesty of “Lvx”, the bat-shit crazy “Discordia”, with its hissing (for all you Harry Potter fans, it’s not unlike “Parseltongue”) and its twin, the scowling façade of “Mortalis” are perhaps a step too far into chaos, but they certainly aren’t short on impact.

Albums inspired by ancient texts do carry an added air of authority and credibility about them and this vital, emotional music is no different. Fans of experimental black metal will definitely get a kick out of the elegant vocal stylings and cosmic edge here. It’s fitting that written inside the album cover, a sentence in Latin, loosely-translated, announces “If you have a garden in your library, then nothing is missing”. Rervm is your garden.

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