Monday, 2 August 2010

Lutomysl - Decadence (2005) 80/100.

Lutomysl are a well known one man black metal project from the Ukraine and like so many other Eastern European bands, they have a certain raw style characterised by a number of stereotypical and formulaic methods of instrumentation. However, there are a few uncharacteristic elements every now and then alongside strong repetitious sections which make this band, and this third full-length, entitled ‘Decadence’, a hit. Formally known as Profane Solitude, Lutomysl have become somewhat of a prominent figure in Eastern Europe amidst all the Darkthrone clones and yes, this band do also resemble Darkthrone’s evil, mid-era material though there is certainly enough in the way of variation from Darkthrone that make this more individualised, as opposed to be another rip-off of a well respected 1990’s Scandinavian band. ‘Decadence’ is definitely a strong believer in taking influence from bands who pioneered sounds, but also remaining slightly individualistic from them.

The Eastern European base has a particular sound to it. It’s very raw, usually recorded with lo-fi production and heavily repetitious. All of these qualities can be heard here on ‘Decadence’ though the material itself is still very accessible to the ear and isn’t what I would consider badly produced, unlike so many of the bedroom bands. Certainly, Pavel Shishkovskiy’s efforts are far more listenable than any bedroom based band could ever dream of being. His melodies, which are somewhat buried beneath the fuzz of the distortion, are still accessible despite certain features. Even the bass is accessible to the ear, though it plays a somewhat muted role amidst the repetitious and distortion which ensues from the moment go. The bass is certainly identifiable from the first song, titled ‘Pervye Luchi’ (which translates to First Rays).

As with the old Darkthrone records, from which this album takes a significant amount of influence from, the bass isn’t a terribly important factor. Though this seems to be the case in almost all black metal bands in this mould. They tend to place the guitars, vocals and drums, though this latter instrument less so, as a priority over the bass, so I wasn’t expecting anything less from Lutomysl. I had expected Pavel’s vocals to more or less follow suit and exist in the form of typical rasps, but they most certainly don’t. If anything, his vocal style is very unconventional. It strays from the traditions of bands like this, one’s in the Darkthrone/1990’s branch of Scandinavian black metal, and instead takes shape in a very typical Eastern European form, more akin to bands like Drudkh, though with more emphasis on the pained style given that the vocals are expressed much faster than that of Drudkh, who’re generally mid-paced all over, whilst Lutomysl tend to be much faster and this is usually sustained for long periods of time.

Occasionally there will be a break in songs where the central riff to the song will play in the limelight and all over instruments, plus vocals, will subside, or, as in ‘Ya Iz Proklyatykh’, the style breaks off to allow a really fluid and catchy drum pattern to set in. This clean drumming style is used infrequently throughout the song and this song alone. It’s very rhythmic and goes down as an unexpected, but nice touch given the monotonous state of the music. Though this is the case, the production is rather bombastic and gives each song its own explosive feel with songs like the self-titled beginning in a furious style on from the previous. The quick succession of songs, the way they mould into one another is excellent. Rather than feeling like there isn’t one sturdy direction, the album gives the impression of a clear vision from Pavel’s song writing. Usually he’ll use one, maybe two riffs central to each song as in the self-titled piece. These are usually highly melodic and though the distortion and reasonably lo-fi feel to the music, it still feels rather uplifting on occasions.

When it comes to Drudkh, I usually get the impression that the vocals are apart of the entire machine, whereas with Lutomysl, I get the impression that the vocals are distanced from the instrumentation and although they do tend to invoke the same sorts of emotions that are expressed through the lyrical themes of nihilism, the vocals are a real stand-alone element and drive home the bands search for individualism in a world where bands of this type are usually anything but individualistic. With that in mind, the vocals really set this band apart from the norm. If they were typically rasped, I have a feeling the instrumentations neat work when it comes to unfolding sublime melodies through the chaotic distortion would go largely unnoticed. Given the heavily monotonous nature of the instrumentation, given the fact it doesn’t change very often in texture or projection, the vocals do a fine job of creating a sense of originality despite the formulaic approach with the heavy percussion, double bass blasts and tremolo bass and guitar riffs. What Pavel has managed to do well here is create a number of memorable melodies in each song and though he obviously takes a huge influence from bands like Darkthrone, he still manages to sound fresh and appealing. A very solid album.

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