LLNN & Wovoka
16th June 2017 – Pelagic Records
01. LLNN – The Guardian
02. LLNN – Swarms
03. LLNN – Engineer of Ire
04. LLNN – Nostromo Falls
05. LLNN – Eye of the Covenant
06. LLNN – Gravitated
07. WOVOKA – Traces
It’s always fun when loads of us at The Monolith are super-jazzed for a release. Generally our tastes are fairly disparate, so it’s cool to see a rustle in the reeds when something pops onto multiple radars at once. And plus, we get to discover two new bands at once. Hooray for splits!
LLNN and Wovoka play ISIS-flavoured sludge/post-metal with a heavy electronic element. Contributing six of the seven tracks on the record, LLNN favour shorter, more caustic tracks. Fierce electronic noise hovers on the periphery, adding a static texture to their already-formidable sludge. Wovoka allow themselves longer to expand; contributing a much longer track, “Traces“, they lean towards a Mono/Neurosis vibe of belligerent, heavily-textured sludge.
LLNN open with “The Guardian“, which proffers some spooky synth noises interspersed throughout the sludge fury, adding an interesting counterpoint and dramatically increasing their sonic palette. The play between harsh electronic noises and textures and more familiar prog-sludge guitars works excellently here, adding an unsettling overtone. This theme continues throughout, coming into full bloom with their final track “Gravitated“, a sinister, lugubrious electronic dirge. The band have used this space well to expand their use of sounds, presenting a non-traditional sludge sound that is no less effective at achieving sludge metal’s miserable aims.
Wovoka’s “Traces” allows itself longer to unfurl and to play with dynamics – it’s the crown jewel here. Clearly a flagship, it continues the energy lull from “Gravitated“, soon snapping back into the familiar ferocity. Here though, a longer track allows for more dynamics and complex arrangements. There are some sharp, angular Neurosis-y riffs, fortified by cavernous bellowing; this escalates throughout the track, allowing it to expand without losing interest. There are fewer electronic elements here, though a more traditional sludge sound works wonders for them.
There’s a little more envelope-pushing from LLNN, proof that you don’t need extremely long tracks to work in post-metal; their ideas are a little more varied and concise and they’re deceptively clear songwriters. Wovoka’s approach is far from sludge-by-numbers, preferring catharsis stretched as far as is possible.
A curious, well-constructed split that showcases the best of the cerebral, violent vibe that post-metal strives for. Absolutely sterling work from both bands; sonically complimentary, risky enough and heavy on the bangers, this is a thoughtfully-constructed release. You can’t help but look at splits as a kind of marketing thing sometimes – introduce the bands to each other’s established audiences – but equally they’re a chance for bands to experiment and expand on their established sounds, exactly what’s presented here. Hooray for splits indeed.