Metal is prime territory for the concept album, and over the past four decades, we’ve had our share of them from bands as huge as Iron Maiden and Queensrÿche (R.I.P. I know they’re still a band. R.I.P.). Just this year, we had Vektor’s great, must-hear “Terminal Redux,” and this week we kicked off the week with one from Morrow, tomorrow we have yet another, and Friday another!
So there’s a ton of storytelling going on in metal, but perhaps none as weird and, uh, fungal as what Lesbian pulled off on their new album “Hallucinogenesis.” I probably could just put the title out there, and that would be plenty to let you guess what transpires on this record. But, what the hell, they put a lot of time into this, so let’s dig into the story. On this record, we follow the story of Earth after it’s hit with a spore-filled asteroid that goes on to transform the planet into a new dawn of creation called “Pyramidal Extistinctualism.” The process continues over and over on the backs of meteorites pulled toward the sun, with few survivors, with the Kosmoceratops among them. It’s crazy as shit, and yeah, it seems pretty damn druggy (not a surprise considering the band’s past work), but it’s also a damn fun burst of energy. It’s clear the band takes their chops deathly seriously, but it’s nice that they’re so loose and creative with their mission.
Lesbian have been around for more than a decade now, putting together what they refer to as “the final wave of prehistoric phantasy thrash.” That strange description is slapped over a frenetic sound that mixes death metal, sludge, and, sure, some thrash into a mysterious concoction that’s equally brutal and nerve crunching. The band’s first record “Power Hor” landed in 2007, followed by “Stratospheria Cubensis” in 2010, and their eye-opening, single-cut “Forestelevision” in 2013. The band responsible for “Hallucinogenesis”—new vocalist Brad “B.R.A.D.” Mowen (formerly of Burning Witch, Asva, the Accüsed), guitarists Arran McInnis and Daniel La Rochelle, bassist/vocalist Dorando Hodous, drummer Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy—sound tight and on fire, rolling out this insane storyline and filling your head with punishing madness.
“Pyramidal Existinctualism,” a wordful of a title, starts the record with riffs tearing open, mind-altering singing, and a dramatic bit of playing. The singing turns to tortured wails and creaky speaking, as the song tears its way through the cosmos and zaps into plenty of weird progressions. Things get bubbly and colorful not long after, almost as if the spores have entered your bloodstream, and later the mania is just off the charts. Space fire is spat, while the guitars charge up again as riffs emit power and energy, with hefty vocals bruising as the track comes to its end. “Labrea Borealis” is the longest track at 14:31, and it starts cleanly and smoothly, making things feel oddly serene. Then guitars erupt, with the vocals going from crazed shouts to shrieks to desperate howls. The music itself digs into the dirt and brings raucous madness, with the band chanting away, as if summoning a force from far away, and then the repeated lines of, “Levitate, circulate, populate!” detail the meteorites’ creation process and what leads to this fungal new existence. From there, a cavernous solo arrives, with the music feeling spacious and huge, with a numbing sequence bleeding toward the cut’s final thick glaze.
“Kosmoceratops” follows one of the last remaining species after the events described on the record, and fuck, if this thing isn’t mean as hell. The music implies as much, stampeding and raging with a full steam, with the warning, “Bow your head as it takes your life.” The assault dies down for a little bit as the music stretches out and get proggier, but all the while, the threat is in the air. Psychedelic shades and pained wails push the plot, as mass killings ensuing and parasites falling from moonlight are detailed. Finally, in the song’s final stretch, the bloodshed reaches its apex, as cries of, “Cold-blooded killer hunting me!” leaves a streak of plasma across the ground. Closer “Aqualibrium” gets off to a hammering start, as the 11:46-long mauler lets loose with scathing screams and later warbling singing to go along with the settling pace. From there, things get odd, especially with the deranged singing, while death chugs emerge and start the blackening. The pace again goes for dream mode, with higher singing pushing things into the stratosphere, and then some near-King Diamond banshee cries destroying everything. As the track nears its end, the drama is ramped up, emotions hit a crescendo, and the band sends you off with a crunchy, thrashy final beating.
Your mind doesn’t have to be altered to accept what you’re hearing on “Hallucinogenesis,” but I’m guessing it might help see all of the weirdness going on here. Lesbian’s journey has been a unique one that’s been fun to follow, and with each new dose of madness from them, they push you even further into the beyond. Not sure we’ll ever have the psychedelic experience these guys are on about here, but it’s pretty fun to at least imagine it.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/lesbroham/
To buy the album, go here: http://translationlossrecords.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.translationloss.com/