Doom Metal is a subgenre of "moments". It doesn't have the aspects of appeal that […]
By Dorothy Cheng
August 1, 2013
Lycus - Tempest album cover

Doom Metal is a subgenre of "moments". It doesn't have the aspects of appeal that other more straightforwardly brutal or fast subgenres have, instead, it has something more complex and in that sense, harder to pull off. It relies on moments of splendour, manifested through carefully engineered atmospheres, and also on character, that is propagated and elaborated on through the band's personal musicality. In view of this, it's easy to see where some Doom Metal bands fall short. The formula listed above has a terribly complex way about it, and most worrisome is the fact that there is no one fixed way to go about it. Interpretation and execution are entirely subjective and up to the band itself - bringing about clashes in opinion among critics and fans.

LYCUS with their new release "Tempest" have gone in a direction that involves morose atmospheres and slower tempos. The question is, is this mix impactful and effective enough? Soon after trudging through the 11-minute first track, "Coma Burn", listeners learn that LYCUS is very focused, almost too much so. It's a track that takes its time to pound away slowly, and is almost too morose at times. Its title was certainly befitting. However, LYCUS suddenly become gripped with a spell as soon as the second track kicks in and becomes possessed with an intellectual fire, bringing some interesting variety that very gracefully and skilfully spices up the gloomy tunes.

With their specific direction of Funeral Doom Metal, LYCUS did well in adding relevant musical elements to their already focused vibe. In line with the themes of death, afterlife, and suffering, the band brings in Black Metal characteristics here and there. Variety is a concept the band seems to toy with sparingly, but when they whip it out, it is melded into the song in a very subtle and understated manner, so much so that the listener does not notice any jarring changes. Vocalist Trevor Deschryver does a splendid job bringing colour to the songs as he liberally manipulates his voice to switch between low chants and tormented growls. His deep voice with its natural resonance carries a strangely underworld complexity about it, adding grit and mystery to the album.

The band also thankfully have some Progressive and Experimental influences, bringing along with them a uncharacteristically springy and fast cello in the third track "Tempest", which just about summed up the entire band's take on variety. The atmosphere of the 20-minute song was meticulously crafted, although it may just have been too tedious. Some bands struggle with the perfectionism complex and it oftentimes makes songs that are alright as it is turn out bland.

However, despite a couple of setbacks, LYCUS' gift in crafting stories in their songs worked its magic, giving me a lasting impression of this band and their ultimate goal - which is to take Funeral Doom Metal and add their own spice to it, creating new atmospheres that will serve to propel Doom Metal to greater creative heights. 

6 / 10

Had Potential

"Tempest" Track-listing:

1. Coma Burn
2. Engravings
3. Tempest

Lycus Lineup:

Trevor Deschryver - Drums, Vocals
Jackson Heath - Guitars, Vocals
Daniel - Bass, Vocals

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