[25th June 2013]
01. Eternal Return
02. A Visitation From The Wrath Of Heaven
03. Two Moons
04. Return To Annihilation
05. Exiting The Hall Of Vapor And Light
06. Panorama Of Mirrors
07. Obsolete Elegies
Locrian are a musical duo hailing from Chicago, Illinois. Formed in late 2005, they have slowly gained notoriety, with over 20 releases to their credit. Their first full length album, after a multitude of splits and EPs, was Drenched Lands, released in 2009 to a fair amount of acclaim. They’ve since released a couple other albums, including the fantastic The Clearing in 2011, and signed to Relapse Records. So what style of music do these young rising stars play? Locrian’s sound can only be described as an experimental fusion of drone, black metal, and industrial, and on Return to Annihilation they show just how far they have come musically as a band.
This album is nothing short of stunning in what it brings to the table. There is a fine balance between chaos and order, teetering on the edge of oblivion with winds buffeting the listener every second, threatening to send one plunging into the emptiness. Locrian have crafted a methodical journey through the end of humanity, bringing glimpses of what the Earth might be were the human race suddenly entirely erased. It is a desolate and lonely, yet strangely tranquil vision.
Musically, Locrian really throw everything they have into this record. The variance in guitar and keyboard tone is quite spectacular: on “Eternal Return”, everything sounds really fuzzy, floaty, and generally blissful, but then the very next song “A Visitation From the Wrath of Heaven” changes everything into a very dark, thudding, ominous feeling, with lots of tension and an ever-present hum, before hitting an abrupt wall of sound near the end, and then immediately flowing into tranquility and peace with the next song. Despite the fact that this all sounds pretty chaotic, it actually works really well; Locrian are building a world of emptiness, which can contain peace and tranquility, as well as loneliness and darkness.
The album as a whole flows wonderfully, and shows an array of sonic visuals, without feeling pretentious. The quiet moments are interspersed with more dramatic times where things pick up. The seemingly ever-present low hum of a very fuzzed out bass synth provides rock solid foundations for every mood this album brings along with the drums, which, while simplistic, carry a complexity and tone that is difficult to replicate.
The vocals are a minimal part of much of the material, but they do add quite a bit of texture when called upon. Howls, shrieks, and even mesmerising clean vocals are all used in great effect at various junctions. They are lower in the mix, and so should be considered more another instrument rather than a separate voice.
Return to Annihilation is a droning, experimental affair, the likes of which are rarely heard outside of Sunn O))) or Earth albums. Perhaps this could be the album that puts Locrian in the same category as those two pioneers of the sound. It is certainly good enough to, being a melodramatic, yet tranquil work of art that captures the attention of the listener with haunting hums, purposeful ritualistic drumming, and free-floating guitar arpeggios. Each track offers a small glimpse into a world where nothing sentient exists and all that remains is dust. This is a magnificent album that is worth the attention of the wider music world.
Top tracks are probably “Two Moons” “Panorama of Mirrors” “Return To Annihilation” and “Obsolete Elegies” but the whole album is worth listening to.