In the days before my now sporadic position at Angry Metal Guy, I scoured the deepest reaches of the web for new music. It was a daily addiction, a constant trawl through a multitude of websites and hyperlinks. One band who caught my attention during those chaotic days was The Lumberjack Feedback. Their 2016 debut full-length Blackened Visions made an instant impression. Its instrumental slabs of low-end focused sludge, doom and stoner writhed with menace and atmospheric unease. When I spotted their name on the recent promo list I snapped it up immediately. I knew for a fact my tastes and interests had shifted and narrowed since 2016; it was interesting to see how this French five-piece had developed since their debut alongside my ever-changing palate. Mere Mortals is their second full-length. Welcome to the world of the French lumberjacks.
Low end. Oh, the low end. It rumbles and churns through ear into the brain and out again. A constant fuzz. But not ridiculously fuzzy. This is a clean vibration, a measured amplification of guitar sound. The Lumberjack Feedback search for a middle ground between the overbearing abrasiveness of sludge and the cleaner tones of stoner and desert rock. Reverb and over-amplification is key, as expected, but there are grander horizons reached for here, more alien vistas. Nothing really stands out as being exceptionally striking; the theme of the record stops of at usual territories with subtle twists and layers of sound that add texture to the mass of sound.
The record succeeds when it’s forcing itself into the ear canal with speedy bluntness or, conversely, stretching its atmospheric fingers into dreamier, less structured territories. When The Lumberjack Feedback attempt to merge both styles into one song problems emerge. “Kill Kill Kill Die Die Die” lacks subtlety of title and style. It’s bluesy swagger works though. Grooves layer grooves and hi-hat tapping mischief; the low-end bass tones bubble and writhe and dance alongside the gurning overlays. As pace gradually increases, the song moves into the sort of headbanging that gets necks twitching and contorting into unsavory positions. It’s a song that serves its purpose as a crowd-pleasing beast. A success. Nothing flashy, nothing new, but powerful. On the opposite end of the spectrum “New Order (Of The Ages) Part 1” takes a measured approach as feathery atmospheric guitar sounds careen off the steady chunky riffs. “Part 2” continues the droning vibe but integrates monotonous chugs and basic chord patterns. It’s average at best. Deep and heavy but merely there to extend the album; too fluffy and meandering, neither here nor there.
As previously mentioned, the more successful songs merge heavy drum work with thicker, more direct riffing (“Wind Last Blow”). The song’s success is amplified with subtle atmospheric electronic noise that writhes amongst the noise. The band utilizes a bluesy, grunge-like groove — especially apparent in “Wind Last Blow” — throughout, building songs with simplistic licks, dueling guitar melodies and straightforward slabs of groove. The successful lengthier tracks achieve scope and a sense of musical grandeur. The band manages to achieve this cinematic stature with the galloping shimmer that drives “A White Horse Named Death.” The gradual pace increase allows for a listener to immerse themselves into the unraveling sound. The thick and deep production certainly helps. As the song moves into a more urgent gallop, grooves emerge with timely swagger and basic chord changes keep things simple yet effective. Slowness creeps in and the drone soon emerges, which drags the ten-minute track down somewhat. The band is less successful in these slower climates but, thankfully, don’t dwell here for too long.
“Kobe (Doors of Spirits)” achieves the same goal as “A White Horse Named Death.” It shimmers and saunters in a more relaxed mode at first, intensifies at its midpoint, slows, then erupts again. Nothing against the grain here. This is the album. A solid instrumental record that embraces many sounds from the doom spectrum to decent effect. There’s just something lacking for me: an extra layer, and surprising twist, a vocal overlay, an ambient add-on. Regardless, if you like instrumental metal this is for you.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Deadlight Entertainment
Websites: thelumberjackfeedback.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/thelumberjackfeedbackband
Releases Worldwide: April 26th, 2019