Lycus - “Chasms”
Chasms is a “complete” album in a way few are. It’s one of 2016’s first essential metal releases, the reason going beyond the towering doom riffing or Trevor DeSchryver’s mournful cleans and aching growl, or the controlled songwriting of these four dirges, down to that “it” factor that powered albums like 40 Watt Sun’s The Inside Room or Pallbearer’s Foundations of Burden in years past. While the literal sound and scale of Lycus’s sophomore album trends closer to 40 Watt Sun’s take on funeral doom, its spirit and melodic sensibilities remind me of the album that really put Pallbearer on the map the way Chasms will undoubtedly do for Lycus this year.
Part of their appeal is simply that Lycus make funeral doom approachable—no mean feat, considering that songs regularly break the ten-minute mark and revolve around cold, melancholic atmospheres to overwhelm the listener. While there’s plenty of that with Chasms and more than a few touches of death and black metal along the way, the band’s knack for dynamic songwriting is key. One need only look to the title track, which ebbs and flows between classic doom lumbering and atmospheric slow-downs toward a galloping and melodic midsection, that in turn give way to an extended decrescendo of dispirited growling over cello (!) and clean guitar delay. The cello is so skillfully woven into the composition that I actually missed it on my first listen, but the way it twines around the last chords of the title track and haunts the cavernous blasting of follow-ups “Mirage” and “Obsidian Eyes” is not so soon forgotten.
2016 is going to be a big year for metal. From the gorgeous cover illustration to the music itself, Chasms is damn fine confirmation of that. I can see its elegant take on doom appearing on my end-of-the-year list and many others, so I strongly advise that anyone even casually interested in what Lycus offer take a listen. Like any great album, Chasms demands patience and attention to fully appreciate, but you’ll be rewarded with some of the most emotive and best-written metal we’ve seen thus far if you take the plunge.
- Brian L.