Loch Vostok (ViciSolum Productions) is a Swedish progressive metal band from Uppsala, Sweden. This was enough for me to take a look at it [Tjena grannar!] because, well, there aren’t a ton of metal bands from Uppsala, really. Not that they don’t exist or anything, but they’re just few and far between and most of them aren’t playing progressive metal. Apparently these guys, who I’ve never heard before mind you, formed in 2001 and Dystopium is their fourth record. And yeah, for fans of progressive metal, Swedish death metal and more modern sounding metal might really dig this disc.
So, normally when I do these, I try to find records that are really the creme de la creme that we’ve simply just missed. This record isn’t quite there. But it is really solid progressive and/or power metal record with some death metal influences that sound quite Gothenburgy. With a vocalist who sounds like.. well, kind of every Swedish progressive or power metal vocalist ever, they deftly wander between Dark Tranquillity or Scar Symmetry kind of melodic riffing and choruses and more traditional prog/power sound. Tracks like the ripper of an opener “A Mission Undivine” even hint at an almost black metal influence at times before settling into riffing that is reminiscent of Nevermore or maybe a bit of Symphony X.
These guys also have a slower speed to them as well, and that’s a bit of where I lose them a bit. “Navigator” is kind of a mid-paced rocker/borderline ballad that has some good melodies, but it so unabashedly 80s hair band that I have a bit of trouble with it. The other issue I have with these guys is that the lyrics get a bit ESL and/or preachy at times. I get that it’s tough to write good metal lyrics, particularly in progressive metal and in another language, but sometimes the lyrics here are just, well.. bad. Not good. Obra. But these moments are mostly few and far between, honestly. And really, I’ve heard worse and even the best bands (*cough* Pain of Salvation *cough*) have shitty lyrics sometimes. It really only kills one song for me, “Taste the Flame” which just.. stinks.
With the notable exception of “Taste the Flame” though, this record is really great. It’s got some great songs, some excellent ideas and lots of awesome choruses. I personally love the tracks “Disconnection,” “A Mission Undivine” and “Repeat Offender” and the album feels a little front heavy, but there are some good moments on the back end as well. Overall it’s something worth checking out for fans of progressive metal, melodic death metal fans and all the fanboys of modern Swedish metal who love poppy, catchy tunes and aren’t expecting these guys to be rocking Liquid Tension Experiment chops when one talks about being “progressive”. Did I narrow that down too much? Just check the shit out.