The Lion’s Daughter
Existence Is Horror
8th January 2016 – Season of Mist
02. Mass Green Extinctus
03. Nothing Lies Ahead
04. Dog Shaped Man
05. Four Flies
06. Midnight Glass
07. The Fiction In The Dark
08. A Cursed Black End
09. They’re Already Inside
10. The Horror Of Existence
Black metal, always having appealed to artsier metalheads, is having a pretty good time; the recent wave of American bands like Nachtmystium, Castavet, Deafheaven and Liturgy are testament to the genre’s continued evolution. Drifting a little further from the krieg templates laid out by their Scandinavian predecessors, The Lion’s Daughter show that black metal can be diverse and moody as well as being absolutely ferocious.
Existence is Horror is a little too varied to be labelled strictly a black metal album. It flirts pretty brazenly with progressive metal; hints of Gojira and some Remission-era Mastodon guitar work interweave the aggression. There’s also more than a hint of post-metal with mid-career ISIS textures popping up. There are some jarring atonal parts, especially in “Nothing Lies Ahead”, which don’t invite comparison to anyone particularly but are especially effective at communicating their fanged belligerence. Although the mix of atmosphere and mercurial influence could be immediately comparable to Deafheaven, this album is quite a lot nastier and more malevolent. Despite some similarities, this is not an album that invites its listeners to pick apart individual influences, but successfully presents them in a black metal framework. There are some tracks that utilise some of the long-established tropes such as the tremolo picking on “Midnight Glass”, but it is the outside influence that makes the concoction so potent.
Existence Is Horror makes a number of very smart songwriting choices; favouring shorter songs means every tracks gets to say its piece and then depart, and though the album does take the chance to breathe a little (“A Cursed Black End“) it never really slows down enough to stop punishing you. It also benefits from comparatively crisp production – not very kvlt, but a wise move for an album which has a lot of distinct ideas to express. The clarity of expression is a rare feat indeed for a record that leans so heavily towards black metal; to be punched so very hard and fast in the face whilst simultaneously understanding exactly how this is happening is a particular strength of the group.
The record is fairly brief, which seems like an unnatural choice; a lot of the time it seems more natural for these tracks to reach into the seven-minute mark, but they always conclude a litter earlier than expected which helps to maintain cohesion. This may be a little jarring to listeners expecting these songs to stretch a little longer, but The Lion’s Daughter are sure of themselves and the risks they’ve taken here pay off.
Existence Is Horror is an excellent listen for both black metal fans wanting to flirt with something artsier, or progressive metallers looking for something quite a bit more unpleasant. We are a week and a half into 2016 and already the bar has been set pretty high.