chasms_1500Tempest was one of those remarkable underground metal debuts which developed sufficient hype to breach the upper echelon of popular online publications despite its apparent lack of commercial appeal. The oppressive funeral doom, courtesy of the plucking, hitting and growling gents over at Lycus, was positively received by Pitchfork, Decibel and theneedledrop, ultimately garnering a Relapse record deal. I was left feeling like I’d missed something, a sentiment matched by the enigmatic Noctus, as it seemed a fairly innocuous funeral doom release failing to excel in any particular aspect. But I get Lycus now: Chasms is a dramatic improvement on Tempest and a doom metal release worthy of recognition.

Chasms is certainly a funeral doom album but don’t be deceived into the presumption of drone and a monotone approach [And Kronos just stopped readingSteel Druhm]. This is a genre wherein dynamism and immediacy often fall by the wayside in favor of huge riffs and droning percussion, but Lycus successfully incorporate all these characteristics. Where other bands may utilize repetition to hammer home their points, the listener is engaged here through frequent melodic development and temporal fluctuation. Each of the four tracks is crammed with great riffs which are smartly integrated without resembling variety for its own sake or needlessly falling into maximalism. This is the greatest development from Tempest, in that they have actually written compelling songs this time around. Funny how that makes me enjoy the music more.

Again favoring careful integration to avoid tarnishing, and actually embellishing, the oppressive atmosphere, there are nods to styles outside the borders of doom. Chasms is littered with death metal particularly, and could almost be interpreted as death doom. The percussion is often rapid by doom standards, upholding passages which prefer to demolish and ravage rather than slowly and mournfully suffocate. The climax to “Solar Chamber” is densely compacted to forge a brutal and overwhelming wall of noise, almost punishing the listener. Perhaps its my latent sadomasochism finally manifesting, but it’s a fantastic set-piece and I keep returning to it. The guttural growls are excellent too, featuring the most daunting of death roars. The second half of “Mirage” is largely tremolo-picked, underpinned by unrelenting blast beats and impressive shrieks, clearly drawing on black metal. This is all encompassed within the overarching doom but it certainly makes for a diverse listen.

Lycus_ Freddie-Ross_Providence_05

It’s worth noting, however, that Chasms took time to establish itself. It’s still funeral doom and it is unquestionably onerous for a new listener. Stacked against the immediacy and pop-laced appeal of the new Avantasia, for example, the realization of its majestic dominance was gradual. This is not a negative in and of itself but may hinder its initial impact. Or maybe I’m just a wuss, who knows? More tangibly, I would argue the fourth and final track, “Obsidian Eyes,” is the weakest. It’s the most ‘traditional’ example of funeral doom on the record, with a slower, more ponderous pace, and a cello-orientated interlude breaking apart its twelve minute length. But it just lacks the wow factor prevalent elsewhere. It’s still a good song and the relatively reserved approach taken in its first half ultimately complements the emotionally heightened second half, but it doesn’t stand out compared to the rest of Chasms.

Nonetheless, the slower tempo of “Obsidian Eyes” emphasizes the excellence of the production undertaken. With this clearer sound-space, the towering guitar tone and appropriately balanced mix are quite apparent, lending the crushing quality one craves in their doom metal. Each instrument is audible without dominating and producer, Jack Shirley, deserves credit for nailing the sound here. It would, of course, benefit from greater dynamics (the record is split between DR scores of 5 and 6), but this is an example that dynamic range is but a contributory factor to production. Throw in the ever-exemplary artwork of Paolo Girardi and this is a well-presented slab of metal.

Chasms isn’t catchy and it will take time to establish its evil presence over your mood, but it’s grown into the ideal beginning to 2016. I get the distinct feeling that this will continue to grow on me and I’ll eventually be laughing at this ‘meager’ score, but I can only grade as per my reasonable faculties at this moment. Commit the time, commit the attention: the ferocious fruits yielded are worth the effort.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Relapse Records
Websites: facebook.com/lycus | www.lycus.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: January 15, 2016

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  • Reese Burns

    I actually really enjoyed Tempest. Like, a lot. If you say this is a step above, it’s enough to get me excited for it.

    • El_Cuervo

      It’s certainly a step above for me.

      • Reese Burns

        Just out of curiosity, are there any really good doom bands you could recommend for me? (Outside the obvious ones, Paradise Lost, Katatanoia, etc)

        • basenjibrian

          A diverse range I am liking right now:
          MONOLITHE. May be too much for a newer listener-these are 45-50 minute long epic “pieces” more than traditional rock songs (although the latest breaks it up into brief 15 minute long “songs”. I everyone would agree that starting with Monlithe III is the way to go!
          ZAUM: Stoner doom with an epic, appealing middle-eastern appeal!
          MANSION. May barely count as “metal”, this band purports to be the voice of an obscure, hard core Lutheran-based Finnish cult. Eerie as hell. Captures the perversity, no, the wickedness, at the heart of the Christian religion! If you like MANSION, check out the equally weird SABBATH ASSEMBLY.
          AUTUMNIA AND AUTUMNAL. Too traditional death-doom/doom bands that offer some great songs.
          AVA INFERI (RIP) great Portuguese-Norwegian project that is classic female-fronted gothier doom

          • Reese Burns

            Wicked, thank you! I have no problem with some songs that go into the 40+ minute range, so long as they’re interesting. I’ll make sure to check all of these out, thanks guys!

          • basenjibrian

            Monolithe III is utterly interesting! Good listening!

        • El_Cuervo

          Lesser known bands from mine personal collection, intentionally leaving off better-known stuff:

          – Alunah (lighter end, female fronted, old-school)
          – Atlantean Kodex (doom/epic classic metal)
          – Autumnal (like Peaceville 3 but less death)
          – Giant Squid (great riffs)
          – Khemmis (modern, epic)
          – Kuolemanlaasko (proggy and diverse but heavy as fuck)
          – Monolithe (massive atmosphere)
          – Oceanwake (like The Fall of Every Season)
          – Pallbearer (modern, awesome clean vocals)
          – Secrets of the Sky (post-rock/doom, proggy and diverse)
          – Sinister Realm (doom/epic classic metal)
          – The Fall of Every Season (fave on list, mix of acoustic and heavy, kinda Opeth-y but less progressive and more doom)
          – The 11th Hour (modern and so morose)
          – Un (slow but heavy and dark. A band to watch)
          – Vainaja (excellent death/doom)

          Enjoy.

          • Reese Burns

            Wow, didn’t expect a list that long! Well, thank you, looks like I have some listening to do

          • Wilhelm

            Atlantean Kodex is amazing. The Fall of Every Season is as well, but I was more enamored with their EP than their full length.

          • El_Cuervo

            You mean the early demos? I cannae find an EP! But I way prefer Amends to From Below, so I assume I would prefer Amends to those too.

          • Wilhelm

            Oops, I stand corrected – I was thinking that from below was an e.p., but it was a full length. Anyhow, I prefer that album to Amends, not that Amends was bad, but just a bit less impressed than the first album…Plus Sisyphean might be the most beautiful song ever. Sadly, I’m finding less and less quality doom/death bands in this style anymore =(

          • De2013

            Great list! Thanks for sharing. And how about Crypt Sermon?

            Btw maybe an idea to do genre based lists in addition to the other lists at the end of this year?

          • El_Cuervo

            I wouldn’t count on it. We don’t want list overloads, there’s already a lot!

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Instant list flash mob
            WHAT DO WE WANT? LISTS !!
            WHEN DO WE WANT THEM? NOW!!

          • Thatguy

            NOOOOO!

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            This is a good list, I’d also add Crypt Sermon to this..it’s classy classic doom

        • sir_c

          If you look for something with a similar cavernous sound and vocals, try Disembowelment with their cult album Transcendence Into The Peripheral.

          Epic! (and that is a word I do not use often).

          • Reese Burns

            Thanks, have always meant to listen to Disembowelment, but never got around to it. Now I have an excuse, thanks!

          • sir_c

            Hope you like it :-)
            Next to add are Evoken and Inverloch. The latter comprises of two former Disembowelment members, if I am not mistaken.

          • Reese Burns

            I’ll make sure to check them out as well, thank you :)

        • xengineofdeathx

          Would also highly recommend Swallow the Sun, Shape of Despair, Fall of the Idols, Anhedonist, Asunder, Ahab, Om, Rwake and Graves at sea.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    From the bandcamp samples this sounds really really good. Very atmospheric, very dark and gripping. Above all else, it’s not static, as most doom tends to be. It’s relentlessly moving forward and introducing more and more elements into their pieces rather than meandering around the same boring riff.

    First 2016 record I am convinced I am getting.

    PS: There’s Girardi again. The man is a beast. Fantastic artwork..

    • El_Cuervo

      Ye man, it’s very dynamic (musically, rather than in production). I’ll be surprising if I hear doom which is much better this year.

      Also: you changed your Discus pic! :o

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Being an ionizing radiation hazard symbol just ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.

    • Reese Burns

      Do you know if there’s anywhere you can buy prints of his art? His pieces are fantastic.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Back in November a guy asked the same question on his facebook (which everyone should definitely follow if they can) and he said he was going to try to make it happen but there have been no news on that since.

        Buying the vinyl is most likely your best bet for now.

        • Reese Burns

          Ah, that’s what I was afraid of. Thanks anyways!

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      His art is so evocative and perfect for Doom and Death metal but is he doing too much?

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Yes and no. I think right now he’s doing a bit too much, yeah but it’s still to the point where I don’t mind (at all) seeing his artwork. It hasn’t reached the critical mass levels of Par Olofsson or Ed Repka but if this keeps up, he might sooner rather than later.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I would agree, If an album has one of his covers I’ll still take notice and think this is special… if he’s not careful though, there could be a tipping point and the covers will stop seeming special…

    • sir_c

      I listened to the second track as well, on Bandcamp. As I mentioned below, it really pushes into Disembowelment territories. Which Is A Good Thing, in my opinion. I am very eager to hearing the rest of their album.

  • Robert Turnbull

    ‘but it’s grown into the ideal beginning to 2015’

    ‘Releases Worldwide: January 15, 2015’

    Time warped back a year it seems, such was the epic slowness of the doom!

    • El_Cuervo

      Aaaaaand fixed. Thanks

      • Robert Turnbull

        No worries. Good review and some good stuff on that embedded track.

  • Roquentin

    I like this! It reminds me of Ophis’s strain of doom-death. Nice review, as well!

    • El_Cuervo

      I’ll give em a listen, thanks for the tip!

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      I read that as ‘Oprah’ the first two times I read the comment and was both confused and extremely excited at the prospect of Oprah doom-death. Dang yo

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    You know it`s Funeral Doom when the “single” is 10 minutes + long.

  • Luke_22

    Keen to check this out, I enjoyed the debut (as much as a person can enjoy funeral doom in a traditional sense). Great review.

  • That ART! I think I’m more in love with Paolo Girardi than the music…

  • MelbCro

    Love funeral doom, don’t love this.

  • Wilhelm

    The music is alright, but not amazing and not exactly funeral. I hope there will be better doom releases this year.

    • MelbCro

      Yeah, I like my funeral doom to actually sound like funeral doom

  • xengineofdeathx

    This band reminds me a lot of Urna, which is a very good thing.