It was about five years ago that I heard Lustre‘s very first EP, Serenity, and it wasn’t awful I suppose. It was incredibly soft as black metal goes, to the point where I wouldn’t even call it black metal any more. It had a very prominent keyboard melody over the top of the “black metal” and just went on and on, but since the melody was good it didn’t feel too overlong. Where I didn’t really enjoy the EP all that much, I did see some kind of potential if the dude actually worked towards evolving his songwriting past the *cough* “hypnotic” structure, in which he steals Burzum‘s flair for repetition and forgets everything that makes repetition actually work. Five years later I check out his latest recording and it’s pretty much as dreadful as it possibly could be. What on earth happened? I’ll tell you; nothing. He’s using the exact same production style, same bell-like synth voice, same incredibly low-pace tracks that couldn’t possibly pass off as black metal even to a meth addict. It’s so shamelessly soft that it’s essentially ambient, and where I love ambient music, this sure as hell isn’t good ambient music [Oxymoron alert! — Steel Druhm].
So the Lustre soundscape (if you can call it that) essentially consists of two synth voices playing melodies a three-year old could write on a tiny Casio, ‘waves’ of barely distorted guitar that sound like essentially nothing, the worst drum machine I’ve heard all year and vocals that are nearly as laughable as the drums. Literally the only difference is that he also added a harpsichord synth which plays melodies as dreadful as the bell synth does. The vocals are pushed even further to the back of the mix and still manage to sound worse somehow. Honestly, he’d have been better off just leaving the vocals out altogether because if he’s going to mix them that low, then let’s be honest; what’s the fucking point? Don’t misunderstand me either; relaxing black metal can work. Alrakis has proved that with his great hybrid of soft textures, slower and more melancholic songs and without forgetting the black metal touch. But this doesn’t compare at all and only serves as a ‘what not to do‘ when it comes to black metal of this type.
I’m only thankful this album had the decency not to stretch 70 minutes in length like a lot of these atmospheric black metal bands. But even at 38 minutes this album is so ridiculously overlong because the guy just shamelessly copy/pastes sections to bolster length. I mean some of these songs have varying sections, but it more or less just goes between sections with synth, simple drum beats and guitar, maybe vocals and other sections that get rid of the vocals and guitar and that’s it. Since these songs more or less consist of the exact same ideas and instrumentation, the best track simply comes down to which has the least sickening melodies, in which case I suppose “A Summer Night” is probably the best one, but it’s still bad.
Is it really too much to ask for a musician to get just a little bit better in the five-year gap between an EP and the next album? But then, why progress when you can just write insultingly simplistic melodies and chord structures, add guitars you can barely hear, vocals you can barely decipher (probably for the better) and songs that barely flow at all? I mean let’s face it, if making black metal is this easy then it’s no wonder the scene is grossly over saturated with every band sounding like the last. Lustre take it one step further, however, and sounds like every other band but worse. I liked his first EP because it came from humble beginnings and had potential but we’re five years in and all I feel now is completely insulted.
Atmospheric black metal, eh? I’ll stick to Vinterriket‘s early stuff if I want a winter atmosphere, and Darkspace if I want a spacey affair. But I’ll keep this album around if I ever want an album to compliment the aura of one of my wet farts.