With the impressive drop of their debut album ‘Loss’ in 2014 Danish atmospheric sludge metal band LLNN have been the one to watch in terms of forward-thinking, atmo-/post-sludge with a heaviness influenced by European hardcore. Though the Rorshach or Cattle Press style hardcore screaming and jugular throb of the ultra down-tuned chugging could be abrasive and unsustainable on their own, LLNN have a knack for cooling those jets with frequent outer-spaced atmosphere. Their mixture of tribal ambiance and post-metallic ‘-core’ delivery feels modern, or at least perhaps generationally steps beyond standards set by Isis and Cult of Luna. As pretty as it might seem on paper ‘Deads’ is ultimately music of disarray and diversion, a primarily unfeeling and cold spectacle most adept in conveying anxieties and frustrations.
Like any other popular music sub-genre atmospheric sludge metal is an art perfected from it’s inception and built upon by imitators with few true innovations along the way. The key to resembling a sub-genre in most any case is entirely in balance of equalizing opposing forces. The way that LLNN flipped heads early on was by essentially mashing decent grooves with the eerie translucence of their atmospheric/post-metal elements. Instead of loud-quiet-loud the standout moments collided in unison and worked as one hulking beast on ‘Loss’, it was less dynamic but standout all the same. Instead of differentiating those key elements of atmo-sludge for the sake of clarity ‘Deads’ is an effort to keep a continual stream of the eerie, space-horror vibes flowing underneath and kicking into full gear when the increased heaviness slows down. In terms of sheer dynamics it is a well-rendered experience.
The integration is expert -just- in terms of creating atmospherics and transitional intrigue, though, as the songwriting and heavier guitar work are less than surprising on ‘Deads’. I found myself beginning to mentally ‘skip’ over the chugging guitar parts. I know this is typically a generational issue of reference and because I was indoctrinated into hardcore long before spectacle outweighed content/prowess the chugs do absolutely nothing for me. It isn’t all chugs though, and when LLNN are movin’-and-groovin’ they’re on fire. The real meat of the album happens in two duos towards the middle and end of the record. “Civilizations” essentially serves as a dark ambient intro to my favorite track “Appeaser” with a ‘Times of Grace’-esque distorted bassline and solid use of heavier guitar work. The same dynamic works between the Metroid Prime OST-like “Structures” and the title track which could only be appropriate as a closer because if they’d opened the album with it the rest of the experience wouldn’t compare.
LLNN have done a great job of furthering their sound as they’ve almost increased it to something too dynamically fluid to retain enough of the solidly-banging heredity with ‘Loss’. I ultimately see this bold shift as effective enough to warrant praise and though it doesn’t top the artistry of Cult of Luna‘s ‘Vertikal’ in terms of either ‘hard-or-soft’ extreme represented, the conception and execution of ‘Deads’ is commendable.
|Released||April 27, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on Pelagic Records’ Bandcamp!||Follow LLNN on Facebook|
Atmospheric Sludge Metal, Sludge Metal,
The scales never favored us. 3.25/5.0
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