12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}“Black metal, noise, krautrock, post-rock and something else, but none of the above at the same time,” wrote Alex Franquelli about Locrian’s previous record Return to Annihilation. These words ring truer than ever on Infinite Dissolution, a record that eschews categorization and shows the Chicago/Baltimore trio carrying their sound into unexplored and inexplicable structures, bringing together disparate worlds, and moving even farther away from the slow ambient noise and drone that marked the first, hyper-productive part of their career.

There’s a haunting, nearly imperceptible beauty hidden within Locrian’s dystopian philosophical and metaphysical contemplations. This ambiguous feeling takes hold as soon as the listener’s gaze lands upon the unnerving but awe-inspiring cover, a depiction of David Altmejd’s sculpture The Eye, and that feeling runs through each note on Infinite Dissolution. Indeed, Locrian revisit themes they’ve entertained since their own inception – annihilation, loss of self, death, and the ultimate demise of humanity, without ever taking the easier, nihilistic, or doomsaying path. Instead, they indulge in a meditative, bittersweet acceptance of one of the few certainties in the universe: everything ends. It’s this central theme that carries the music and enables a narrative in which elements of black metal, noise, psychedelia, electronica, and post-rock are used as brushes in a greater scope, as means to an end. The narrative might be linear and with a clear outcome, but the meandering voyage makes it feel uncertain.

An interesting contrast arises from the bleakness of the motifs Locrian explores and the moods evoked through sharp figures and warm sonic stimuli. Their recent superficially melodic, rhythmic, and (relatively) accessible style hints at hope and resolution, but it’s constantly confronted with barren, desolate lyrics. While vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Terrence Hannum screams “Chain of Being / Desiccated / A Hymn to the Deluge” on “Arc of Extinction,” his voice lost, buried, and swept away by the lush wall of noise, guitarist André Foisy lays a guitar lead that breaks through the thick fog of synths like a ray of light through stormy clouds. But the light is mere illusion, with only the darkness left beneath it all. This mirage makes the music both concrete and elusive, reliant on volatile, mercurial sounds reflected in an infinite crystal, refracting in many ways and directions, ultimately making focus and attention impossible.

Musically speaking, Infinite Dissolution’s genesis can clearly be traced to Return to Annihilation, but it also inspires a more complete, fulfilling experience. From the tension-building electronic noises and drum thumps, black metal tremolos, and a permeating sense of redemption on the opener “Arc of Extinction,” over the centerpieces of the record, the anthemic three-parter “The Index of Air” and the almost optimistic “The Great Dying,” right until the withering, hollow closing notes of “KXL III,” there’s always an impression of motion and progress in the music, where there was none before. Grandiose, oppressive and daunting – all of that, yet not really any of it. The destination is grim, the sound of curtains falling almost palpable with the only moment of “normalcy” and some semblance of respite coming through the ironically, oxymoronically titled “The Future of Death.”

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Acting not just as musicians, Terrence Hannum, André Foisy, and Steven Hess appear to be master artists that paint and sculpt through means of pure sound, while music shattered into nine fragments, serves as canvas. Their layered voices, guitars, synths, and electronics all flow into one another in the midst of Greg Norman’s exquisite production and create a fragile and constantly changing soundscape that stirs emotions and projects ideas. Parts of Locrian’s sonic sculpture take form and reshape themselves in the observers’ minds, making the notion of two listens delivering the same experience nigh impossible.

Infinite Dissolution is thus a perfect representation of the savage beauty of random violence that the universe exerts upon humanity, a manifestation of our own cognitive dissonance when failing to grasp the unequivocal, apparently harsh and cruel, but ultimately neutral forces that affect us. We’re disappearing, we’re going extinct, and we’re serenely revelling in every moment.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Relapse Records
Websites: LocrianOfficial | Facebook.com/Locrian
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 07.24.2015

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  • André Snyde Lopes

    Judging from the review I was expecting a 5. I really liked Return to Annihilation so I can’t wait to get my hands (ears) on this.

    • Roquentin

      Here’s the thing, I don’t think I’ll ever give an album a perfect score on AMG. As far as I’m concerned, 5.0 is something that I can award only retroactively, when the dust has settled after a year or two and when it becomes clear that a record has stood the test of time. There are exceptions to this rule, albums whose brilliance, long-lasting appeal, and importance are immediately obvious, but those are really rare.

      Why not 4.5, then? Well, I was THIS close to giving it a 4.5, but the problem is in the artists and bands that I’ve ended comparing them to. If you take a look at the releases I’ve given a 4.5 this year (Ufomammut and Amestigon), they are all quite focused pieces of metal, not straying too much off the beaten path of their respective genres. This makes it easier to value them and rise them above others. OTOH, when you look at Locrian, they don’t belong to metal, they don’t even belong to a single genre, so they invite comparisons with other experimental and avant-garde bands. In that context, there are many acts that push the boundaries of music farther and more intensively than Locrian.

      With all that said, and what I think is obvious from my review (like you’ve noticed), I find Infinite Dissolution to be a beast of an album that will probably end up on my top 10-15 list for the year.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        So you would sooner give a 4.5 to an album that walks a beaten path like Ufomammut rather than something more creative and different? I understand perfecting your craft but I think there is a place for both excellence and creativity in the larger pantheon of greatness.

        Not being metal or not conforming to a defined genre is also absolutely no excuse to give an album a lower rating, in my opinion.

        Keep in mind, I have not listened to the album yet and I am only debating the points you have raised in your comment.

        • Roquentin

          What I’m trying to say is that I find no merit in comparing Ufomammut and Locrian nor their scores directly since they operate in completely different fields. One is a cool and accomplished, but ultimately straightforward sludge/stoner band that is measured against well-known benchmarks while the other belongs to an experimental, fairly abstract domain with loosely defined aesthethic norms (which is to be expected). Apples to oranges and so on.

          So when I look at Locrian, I actually think of acts such as Kevin Drumm, Damien Dubrovnik, John Wiese, or even Russell Haswell, and the 4.0 I gave them is in relation to outings by those artists, not Ufomammut’s Ecate.

          In any case, if you liked Return to Annihilation, you’re going to love this. They just keep getting better and better.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I’m on Roquentin’s side of the fence here.
          Post metal is a pretty well beaten path now and as far as experimental music goes Locrian don’t push the boundaries as far as many others have before them…I really enjoy what they do but as Roquentin says below you can’t comparatively rate the two artists. Also I think It’s a bit harsh to suggest that Ufomammut are somehow less creative …You could equally argue that Locrian is scored way to high due to its lack of experimentation and creativity compared to… n
          Ufomammut IMO really gave psychedelic / sludge metal a real shake up with Ectate and deserved their very high score!

    • Personally, I agree with the score. Comparing their own output this one stands just below The Crystal World (4.99999…) and The Clearing (4.5), on equal footing than Return to Annihilation (4.0)

      • André Snyde Lopes

        As I said, I have not listened to the album yet. My comment was only about the fact that the review had not even one negative thing to say about the album.

        • Fair enough, I was just stating my opinion about the album. The review may lack the cons list but the score seems just to me.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Just recently they put most of their back catalogue up on bandcamp at name your price in celebration of this forth coming release. Which I for one, very much appreciated and I will pick this up because…that was a very cool and clever thing to do. Also the back catalogue is varied and interesting and I’ve been enjoying working my way through it.
    Return to anhilation was in my top ten for 2013 though I must admit I do go back to the Horseback and Russian circle records of that year a bit more…art work is contender for best of the year so far and compels me to consider getting the LP version.
    Top review I’m actually quite excited to hear this.

    • basenjibrian

      I was going to buy this on iTunes, but bandcampe give more of the money directly to the artist, and I want to check out the back catalog as well!
      Thanks, Carlos.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Their back catalogue as Hell says is quite special!
        If I really really want a record and I can’t find a hard copy and there’s no bandcamp or band web store option only then will I use I Tunes. Apple rips Australian customers and artists off.

    • My last big CD purchase was their discography up to the clearing and the final epoch in a similar sale they did before releasing Return to annihilation. They can have my pesos anytime.

      • Roquentin

        What’s great with Locrian is that they’ve now published so much material that it’s become realistic to expect for each of their next records to be magnificent as well. They can do no wrong.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Good times!
        Yes much respect to this band for having made a quality catalogue available for new fans to explore and keeping up regular releases for longtime fans. They deserve huge piles of Pesos!
        I’m really hoping they come to Aus, I want a tour hoodie…

  • Dutch Freud

    I really enjoy Return as well but this album really does have more direction and is a bit more concise than Return. I’ve only given it one spin so far but it’ll likely end up being one of the best of the year in my book.

  • This is a spectacular record and definitely one of this year’s best.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Curious here as I’m probably going to get this one on vinyl, have you heard that version?

      • Not sure, but I assure you that early conversations I had with the band while they were recording led me to believe that dynamics was a KEY element in the making of this record.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Good news!

  • Dr. Scorpion

    The destination is Grymm!!

    • Roquentin

      I should have used that in the review. :-(

      • Grymm

        LOL

  • sickbroski

    I just discovered them today and now this review? Woah.

  • Kronos

    I really need to listen to this. Totally with you on not giving out 5.0 scores unless you do so retroactively. II think the only case in which I would have crossed that line in the sand is if I had reviewed Teethed Glory and Injury. That’s a record that I considered perfect from the first time through and my opinion has only become more favorable with time.

    • Grymm

      I’m with both of you guys.

      If it hadn’t been for “Ashes”, Pallbearer’s Foundations of Burden would have been a 5.0 easily, in hindsight. But again… that one song.

      • Shawn Cypher

        Hey, I actually like “Ashes” ;)

  • antitayyip

    blah

  • Oscar Albretsen

    This is music?

    • JJnetZach

      Yes. Great music.

  • JJnetZach

    I love the direction Locrian has taken with their latest few albums (“Return to Annihilation” completely blew away my expectations) and the post-rock vibe that they have embraced and, it seems to me, fully developed on this album. The apocalypse hasn’t sounded this beautiful since Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s “F#A#inf”.

    Compared to “…Annihilation” this album discards the stark contrasts used then (for example “A Visitation from the Wrath of Heaven” which has a 6 min drum fill ending in 2 minutes of black metal frenzy) and takes the song-writing aspect to heart. This album flows perfectly and is surely the most accomplished Locrian album to date.

  • sir_c

    It takes a couple of songs on headphones to sink in, but then…
    Yes, it’s difficult to call it music sometimes, but the record as a whole is mesmerizing and contains many brilliant moments.

    Edit: fits quite well with Yakuza actually…

  • Ernesto Aimar

    Amazing Record! It surely gives a desolate feeling, kindda being sucked by a despair ridden void. Differences aside, It holds the same distopic atmosphere that the excellent “Vertikal” from Cult of Luna held.

  • Divyang Thakur

    Shitty album. It’s the same old cliche. This is what passes for Metal now?