A “Perfect” Storm
Immediately after forming in 2008, Lycus had a rocky start; they began and disbanded within their first year. Most bands that disband are never to be heard of again, but Lycus came back to life after relocating from Sacramento to San Francisco, CA in 2011 where they released a demo. Tempest, an expert study in doom metal, is their first full production release. Doom Metal is an underappreciated subgenre of metal. Its like metal orchestra. It’s a whole ordeal. It is not the instantaneous, explosive, in-your-face type of metal that is so popular today. It’s slow, like watching a storm roll in. There is a design and implementation– melody, peak and finish, all of which Lycus complete masterfully.
Tempest starts with “Coma Burn,” (run time just under 12 minutes) “Engravings” (less than 10) and “Tempest” (a hair over 20 minutes). In this form of metal it is usual to have more music to a single listing than it is to have multiple listings to a single CD. Unlike other forms of the larger genre, Doom has the position of growing, of deepening and widening during its playtime. Traditionally, Doom metal also maintains very slow, very low, very long notes and tempo. Sometimes it has vocals but it is not necessary. This is a subgenre that can actually support itself without a vocalist because the story is influenced more by mood than lyrics; uniquely, Lycus has two vocalists in its lineup, which in this case only add to the value of their music.
The best example is the title track. “Tempest” has something truly original in its construction. Around the five-minute mark, it winds-up only to then “descend into madness”. Eventually, the descent stops and the Doom returns with an extra layer of hopelessness. The last six minutes of this feature electrical wails and a slow decline.
The more this album is explained, the less it can be explained. This is the type of work that needs to be heard. Awesomely timed, remarkably smart and overall a well-written and delivered album. Buy it. Download it. Go out and get a hard copy, whatever. Even if you’re not into Doom/Gloom/Funeral/Sludge, this album shows that unique and properly executed metal music is still being made.