Review: LOCRIAN – “Infinite Dissolution”

 

Mankind’s inevitable extinction is not a foreign concept to heavy music artists. The mere idea of the human race ceasing to exist resonates profoundly within the metal and hardcore world. There are those who warn of the end of days and critique humanity, and there are those whose dissatisfaction with human beings instills a desire to accelerate the rate of the coming extinction. Either way, the concept is not a new one no matter how it is addressed. So what makes Locrian‘s Infinite Dissolution any different, other than the fact that is not strictly a “metal” album? The Chicago/Baltimore-based experimental trio’s approach to music attempts to revitalize an almost archaic concept and examine it with fresh eyes and ears. Locrian do not wish to preach to humankind about their self-destructive actions, nor do they wish to damn all of us on Earth either. Through multi-faceted compositions and non-linear narration, Infinite Dissolution urges the listener to reflect on the inevitability of the end; a bleak concept the band makes somber and beautiful simultaneously.

As with most selections from Locrian‘s discography, Infinite Dissolution combines elements of post-rock, post-metal, black metal, drone/ambient and experimental electronic music. The 48-minute full-length begins with the massive “Arc of Extinction”. It’s seven-minute duration begins with walls of reverberating, hovering sound that drone like a swarm of mechanical bees. Primal, thunderous percussion slowly build in speed as the guitar conjures up this Black Sabbath-meets-Sci-Fi riff that trudges about proudly. The song eventually delves into black metal territory as hellacious tremolo picking and blast beats stampede into the ear drums. All the while layers of electronic noise soar and indiscernible vocal screeches are heard overhead. Locrian experiment with every genre at their disposal on this blistering opener. The band also pull out all the stops on the album’s other behemoth-sized track, “An Index of Air”. The multi-part centerpiece begins with a repetitive drum pattern that is accompanied by layer upon layer of intense yet oddly melodic drone and ambience. After over three minutes of oppressive soundscapes, the blast beats return in a blaze of glory while the black metal-inspired tremolo picking is replaced by melodic, serpentine licks. These two sonic leviathans showcase Locrian at their most intense, while the remainder of the record is  considerably less aggressive.

The second track, “Dark Shales”, sits on the verge of post-rock territory. The song is awash with angelic, ethereal synths and radiant guitar riffs that intertwine with each other and echo with a potent melancholic beauty. “KXL I” and “KXL II” are rife with shape-shifting electronic and guitar-generated soundscapes that run the gamut of calm and reflective to harsh and debilitating. The explosive “The Future of Death” is brimming with distortion-laced synths and a rhythm section dedicated to an eclectic, almost post-punk-inspired march. The one-two punch of “The Great Dying” and “Heavy Water” effectively bring Infinite Dissolution to a close. “The Great Dying”‘s slow-burning, haunting crawl escalates to an acidic yet melodic climax while “Heavy Water”chooses to ride out a Zombi-esque, interstellar wave. While “KXL III” is the actual final track on the record, the 94 seconds of pulsating electronics seems anti-climactic when compared to the scope of record.

 Locrian‘s take on the extinction of man is not what one would expect from such a dismal idea. Just like the mixed emotions someone might feel pondering the end of life, the music itself is just as varied. Infinite Dissolution is furious, serene, tranquil and haunting all at the same time. When combined with abstract, poignant lyricism, the album creates one of the more genuine sonic depictions of an end time scenario. There’s no escaping the fact that we will one day bring about our own destruction, and Infinite Dissolution will be playing in the background every step of the way.

AARating8
Rating: 8/10
Label: Relapse Records
Release Date: July 24, 2015
For Fans Of: Mamiffer, Pyramids, Horseback and Mamaleek
Favorite Tracks: “Arc of Extinction”, “Dark Shales”, “An Index of Air” and “Heavy Water”

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