Greek ghosts Locust Leaves will soon release their first full-length album, A Subtler Kind of Light. Having the privilege of hearing music early to review them, I am struck by the chance encounter of such a terrific piece of music. Avoiding the spotlight for many years, both vocalist and lyricist/visual artist Nick K. and Helm have sought to enlist truly spectacular musicians for a one of a kind, progressive black metal masterpiece. Dominantly black metal, this is a tight recording of a tale dripping in death through a narrative centred in the domains of mythology, religion, philosophy and metaphysics, of which kind of album would demand skilful hands and dynamic control.
Control is just what Locust Leaves holds. Light/Fos takes us into their world of gods, death, and suffering by revealing to us with elegant poetry the conditions which a woman condemned must realise to castrate a demiurge (assuming Gnostic usage; a subordinate of God, yet controller of the material world.) Herein lies a soundscape of light and dark; blisteringly fast riffs and lead trills from Ayloss (Spectral Love), swooping through dark skies of keys and soaring vocals fighting against unnervingly ominous black metal growled vocals. An incredible start to a first release full-length, Light/Fos ends with a wonderful diversion of acoustics, keys, and stunning percussions.
Pillar/Vaxros pounces back with dissonance and distortion of tone. The drumming from Vroskaath (Zimial) should excite any prog fan – a perfect blend of progressive rock and black metal – theatrical, emotive, and aware of time. All the while the arrangement and band work together like stagehands fixing lights for a play; focusing on who is speaking and moments of visual interests/emphasis. A similar trajectory as Light/Fos, this song ends with I can only describe as a Danny-Carey-like fashion. It is as probable that Vroskaath understands the emotional power of drumming in a way Carey, too, understands, than to be simply inspired by his drumming.
Fall/Ptosi continues the overall trajectory into now a descension. The most black of their material, a doom-stricken atmosphere tolls downwards for half the song, until arriving suddenly falling in a Dethklok like direction. The last of the four, each previously having been a healthy prog time of 8-11 minutes long, Flight/Ptisi leaves us to contemplate the journey with a piece of ambience Gemeinschaft Triste wonderfully performs to calm us from what’s been expressed.
Locust Leaves’ debut – an unprecedentedly unique, stunning, and thought-provoking debut – is out 17th of March.