Putting on a record and having an experience you don’t anticipate and don’t know initially how to process can be an enthralling thing. With so many things today sounding so similar and records seeming to bleed into one another no matter the style, a record making your hairs stand on end and drink in every detail is a godsend.
I already had heavy interest in the debut from Lotus Thief, a creative union of Otrebor and Bezaelith, both of Botanist who we’ve covered extensively on these pages, and both admirable and riveting musicians. Botanist already stands out as one of the most unique projects in all of metal and extreme music, and that made delving into this album something that held a ton of mystery. They couldn’t possibly replicate–or even try–Botanist’s style. That world borne out of Otrebor’s bizarre brain was its own thing, and sure Lotus Thief would go somewhere different. And that’s exactly what happens on their debut “Rervm,” but even I couldn’t have figured out where these two would take this thing. Turns out, they got into the starship and pointed it toward the cosmos, finding yet another level to make imaginative music.
This also is one huge-sounding, ambitious document. There are times when the music is so big and bold, it could inject a sense of intelligence and bravado back into arena rock. But that doesn’t mean the thing’s built on big dumb riffs. It’s not at all. It’s just such an explosive sounding display, with elements of space rock, doom, pure metal, and ambiance, a giant room is the only thing that could house these sounds. Bezaelith’s singing also is a huge element that makes this thing work, as she unfurls her passionate, emotion-packed voice and isn’t afraid to get right inside your head. The words and the album itself is a modern retelling of “De Rerum Natura” (“On the Nature of Things”), a work of 1st Century poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus. Bezaelith says she takes inspiration from the text for many reasons. She’s moved by how the ideals expressed by Lucretius remain relevant centuries later, and she has seen that awakening in some of her students as they realize that there is wisdom in old texts that apply to our lives today.
“Lucretius goes further than just pro-science, or atomism,” she points out. “He talks about psychology, of how humans can fall prey to their own fears, of how arranged marriages can stagnate a person, and of the importance of learning over all things: that human beings’ cardinal purpose is to learn. If anything, it was a comfort to me to know that someone back then was saying stuff like this. So I wrote an album to re-amplify it.” She says she sees Lotus Thief as a vehicle of empowerment through knowledge, that humanity can make things better for themselves by learning and knowing. Each cut takes the listener through all six books of the poet’s work, and that journey is still speaking to us 2,000 years later.
“Aeternvm” opens with a thick, cold draft, and that blends into some progressive heaviness and chilled out, atmospheric playing. A thick bassline drives through and makes a beeline for the heart, with Bezaelith letting her vocals soar, conjuring dark, riveting drama. Otrebor’s drums explode, as they’re joined by spacey synthesizers that make the track feel like they’re coming from another world, and the psyche-heavy, alien feel later pulls you back into nature, with birds chirping away. “Miseras” is a mammoth at 8:58, and it lets noise set up and build its spirit while guitars chase and buzz away. Again, the singing is tremendous and spirited, really grabbing at you, and the band’s bursts take you into the fog, back out into the chaos, and into dark again. There are awesome, crushing riffs that are washed in the band’s weirdness, and the vocals float like a ghost at times, haunting and shaking you at the same time. At the back end, sounds simmer, keys drip, and what sounds like a heart-rate monitor stretches to a flatline. “Discere Credas” has synth spread all over it like a glaze, but guitars rush in and disrupt the sense of calm. Strong and heartfelt melodies dress the bulk of this, with Bezaelith wailing with all her heart, and again, we go back into the stars and ride through terrain most humans never have visited, even if it’s just mentally. This is a great ride that should get your emotions flying.
“Lvx” begins with heavy bass rollicking, more synth fog, and dreamy guitar work that add texture to the more gentle setting. Bezaelith’s vocals once again shine, as you might imagine watching comets and space junk rocket past you as you indulge in this song. The cut has a true majesty to it, with the bright colors becoming more apparent and the tempo sparking blazes that could light up the night sky. The song eventually gets punchy and progressive as it winds down, as keys help accentuate the quiet sections, and an ambient passage arrives that’s complete with explosions that sound like worlds being blown apart. “Discordia” opens with pure aggression, as drums are beaten with a savagery, the guitars glow and rage, and hissed vocals ride underneath everything, giving it a sinister feel. There is psychic splatter in every corner, guitars blasting out of shadows when you least expect them, and an energy that is undeniable. Synth smears all over, the guitars chug hard, and the fireworks eventually dissipate into a collection of sounds that feel like a dream including random voices, laughs, and applause. Closer “Mortalis” gets off to a great outburst, with more scary sounding vocals that sound like they’re delivered by a serpent, destructive madness, and noises jabbing with ferocity. This is a final chance for the band to boil the drama and let it bubble over, with the guitars rising to a new level of power, the vocals are just awesome and pummeling, and the melodies reach their dynamic climax before slipping away and allowing final gasps of synth take the track to its final resting place.
This album is cinematic, sonically gigantic, and a true inspiration for those of us who love when a record transports us somewhere unexpected. “Rervm” does that every time you visit, and hopefully this is just the start of things for Lotus Thief. I can’t get over how much fun I have listening to this thing, and the fact that it’s based in so much more than sound makes the music something you can examine over and over and always come away with new ideas and ways to improve the section of Earth you inhabit.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/LotusThief
To buy the album, go here: http://svartrecords.com/shoppe/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.svartrecords.com/