Written By: Nameless N00b_09
A Voluntary Lack of Wisdom is smothered in a dense layer of fuzz. But not the delicious tickle of a soft blanket, this is a bed of post-doom fiberglass. Italian three-piece metallers Loimann release this—their third full-length—touting it as being more in your face and featuring less complex songwriting than prior efforts. Formed in 2001, it seems a change of direction was in order for this album. Keyboards have been dropped altogether and the harsh vocal quotient has been increased in an effort to provide a more extreme overall result.
Many tracks on A Voluntary Lack of Wisdom begin with a spooky refrain. I’m thinking this must have been the only input from Type O Negative t-shirt guy (in the bio photo), because the majority of the album is a thick wall of dense sound with little sonic breathing room and, unfortunately, clarity. A lack of space in the mix leaves little room for anything except bottom-end rumble making the overall sound something difficult to enjoy. The vocals might be competent, but it’s difficult to tell through the roar. The cleans are worse. On some tracks it’s as though the vocalist is straining to sing above the harsh vox and guitar, giving an almost impromptu jam session feel to proceedings. This is made worse with some tracks having seemingly clearer instrumentation than others and an unshakable feeling of meandering directionlessness with some of the songwriting.
It isn’t all bad though, and if you’re a fan of the genre there is plenty here to enjoy if you can cope with the muffled soundscape. The previously mentioned lack of direction at least means the songs don’t get boring, with post-core breaks, moments of psychedelic space-rock and enough chug and churn to get your head nodding. “Mass Redeemer” is the standout track where Loimann manage to pull together most of these elements into a cohesive whole. It’s an attempt at a great combination of light and dark, fuzz and clean, with good pacing and driving vocals that are unfortunately let down again by the overly dense, flattened mix. Despite this, the trippy guitar tones and psychedelic flourishes—which are excellently done without using any keyboards—are great, bringing to mind Crack the Skye-era Mastodon.
Mayhaps the intricacies of mixing and releasing an album of this type are beyond the budget of a lesser tier metal band. Squeezing all that bottom-end in can’t be easy (ooer!), and while they list the usual influences, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, et al., it’s missing the fine details that make those groups great. Kyuss-esque soaring vocals over a shimmering wall of warm bass is a mainstay of the genre, and Loimann aim high, but ultimately miss the mark because of a lack of sonic depth. If Loimann had been able to find space for their sound to breathe on A Voluntary Lack of Wisdom they could have had a real contender on their hands here, but as it stands I’m not sure they’ve pulled off the desired changes to their sound. Personally, the album makes me think they should lean into the stripped-down approach a little more and go in the direction of a band like Pelican, and eschew vocals altogether.
There’s no doubt they’ve got talent and ideas, and with a little more time in the oven Loimann’s new stripped back sound could really take them places. Involuntary Lack of Wisdom is a decent listen, and I’ll be waiting with interest to see what they release next, but it’s flaws—mostly in the production—mean you probably won’t be adding it to your Albums o’ the Year list.