I consider myself to be pretty open-minded when it comes to music, and metal, in particular. Sure, I can be a cynical, judgmental prick and easily fall back on old favorites and genre staples to satisfy my listening urges, but generally, I give things a shot and like to occasionally deviate outside my comfort zone. Thankfully the reviewing game provides ample opportunity to divulge in the unfamiliar and uncomfortable, so the powers above assigned the mysterious Lusca for my listening pleasure and subsequent dissection. Hailing from Germany, Lusca partake in a minimalist, unsettling style of sludgy industrial metal, complete with droning waves of distorted guitars and bass, rickety industrial beats and grizzled, often spoken word-esque, vocals.
Moody and atmospheric, drone-y and experimental, Lusca don’t create music designed for the average metalhead craving good old hooks, riffs or traditional song structure. This is experimental and indulgent material, built on lots of repetition, ambiance, and an ever-present droning buzz. Lusca appear intent on entangling the listener in their dark hypnotic web of industrial menace through the use of subtle layers of texture, a dense wall of distortion, and shady atmospherics. With these aspects Lusca do a reasonable job, crafting gritty, almost lo-fi industrial dirges and largely nailing a bleak, uneasy vibe. Sadly, Lusca’s ability to create interesting arrangements and pen memorable material largely alludes the band throughout Broken Colossus, despite the occasional intriguing element writhing through the murk and hinting at what could have been. “The Promise of Sleep” goes nowhere fast, however, the song actually becomes more interesting during its back half, as a noisy, almost otherworldly melody soars atop the song’s persistent central groove, creating an ear-catching moment. Such moments are few and far between, with faceless monotony too often setting in and blunting Lusca’s attack.
Maybe this shit just isn’t for me, but the song-writing consistently fails to sink in and captivate my interest, beyond working as vaguely unsettling background music, generally devoid of actual riffs or anything much resembling a memorable melody or earworm hook. Later album cut “Kraton” is another frustratingly meandering tune that hints at something much greater, mostly due to a more inspired, passionate vocal delivery and rugged, head-bobbing grind. Yet it stumbles and can’t maintain the rage across its six-minute-plus duration. Broken Colossus suffers from its lack of variation and poor self-editing, with just about every song sputtering beyond its used by date. The 10-minute “Light Vessel Automaton” is the biggest culprit, the song’s sporadically intriguing and hypnotic flow too drawn out and repetitive to justify its mammoth length.
There’s a raw, amateurish grime to the production that was no doubt an intentional decision to match the band’s musical aesthetic. The thick, distorted buzz of the guitars and bass are serviceable, but the industrial beats could have used more heft and definition. Although the sound is far from perfect, it certainly is not one of the major flaws that holds Broken Colossus back. It is all good and well to nail a certain vibe and sinister tone with your music, but without interesting songs to back it up, any chance of gaining full interest and immersion with Broken Colossus are dashed by sluggish, disjointed and forgettable compositions.
Although I listen to my share of industrial-tinged metal and rock, generally speaking, the finer depths of the genre operates outside my wheelhouse. Maybe there are plenty of industrial aficionados that will find greater value and substance than what I was able to muster towards Broken Colossus. Unfortunately, Lusca hasn’t managed to wedge their way into my rotation beyond the completion of my work here. Broken Colossus is a maddeningly frustrating and disjointed listen, offering very little in the way of coherent or memorable song-writing to demand or sustain interest.