One year to the day from releasing their acclaimed second LP, ‘I Let It In And It Took Everything,’ Loathe now unveil a surprise instrumental ambient album, ‘The Things They Believe.’ [PC: Paul Harries.]
Aside from Code Orange, Sleep Token and Spiritbox, one of the hottest and fastest-growing names in heavy music in 2020 was undoubtedly Loathe. Off the back of last year’s incredible ‘I Let It In And It Took Everything‘ LP – one of my personal favourites of yesteryear – the U.K. group took the music world by storm with a sound that blended not only a host of differing thoughts and contrasting emotions but also plenty of various genres. From Deftones-esque shoegaze, twistedly heavy metalcore, artsy progressiveness, some atmospheric soundscapes, djent, to really crunchy ’90s grunge and alt-rock.
Created amidst the Covid-19 lockdowns England saw last year by guitarist Erik Bickerstaffe and bassist Welshman Feisal El-Khazragi, and continues to see as a new mutant strain spreads, ‘The Things They Believe‘ ain’t your daddy’s Loathe. There are no sick riffs here, no breakdowns at all, zero Deftones worship, and nothing to hear of Kadeem France’s fiendish screams either. (The vocalist mentioned in a recent interview with Kerrang! that he was happy to take a back seat for this one and just simply let his bandmates create.) See, ‘The Things They Believe‘ – a name borrowed from the film adaptation of 30 Days Of Night, according to the band – is a solely instrumental, sample-loaded, ambient experience, with saxophones from The 1975’s John Waugh Sideman on two tracks and plenty of layered swirling atmos to wash over you. If anything, it’s an “escape record”; a form of dark and moody ambient escapism from our stranger-than-fiction world. For how do you sum up a year like 2020 in a few lyrics? That’s easy: you don’t. You create sounds emblematic of the day-to-day.
Honestly, getting a record like this from Loathe isn’t that surprising. Strip away the core aspects of their sound from their sophomore album, and what you’re left with is the genesis of ‘The Things They Believe.’ You can hear and feel all of this already in ‘Theme‘ and ‘451 Days,’ in the reprise of ‘A Sad Cartoon,’ underneath ‘Is It Really You?‘ and hidden away in the closing title track. Those parts of their sound helped to add to and prop up ‘I Let It In…,‘ not bloat it. This new release is simply the next logical step of those ideas. Hell, there are some chord movements and tones here that sound like they’re pulled straight from those songs!
Like most instrumental and ambient works, this is a full-length that’s meant to be heard all as one. In a single sitting, as it all flows together perfectly. That’s where it’s most effective. However, let’s say that you’re a very busy person and you want to know the best movements to check out later? I’m happy to point you in the right direction! ‘Love In Real Time‘ is a dense, mysterious and sax-laden affair that’s lovely yet also fucking eerie at the same time. The soft, moody synth pads and rising pitches of ‘The Year Everything And Nothing Happened‘ (a great description of 2020, truly) makes for a haunting, uncomfortable and overwhelming collection of sounds and noises. Then there’s ‘You Never Came Back,’ whose drifting ambience lifts you while it’s anchoring low-end weighs you down. And the finale of closer ‘The Rain Outside…‘ is like a euphoric rush of blood to the head.
This is, obviously, a very different but nonetheless contemplative and rewarding experience from Loathe. The band have stated before their love of films, and how they’d love to be able to score films and other media outside of Loathe. (Another form of inspiration and influence that they pull from Radiohead.) Well, this album is a great step towards achieving that dream! This is something I’d love to see Loathe try again, and while I can tell I won’t return to this very often, I’m also so glad it exists.
Besides, when it comes to heavy bands releasing works like this, ‘The Things They Believe‘ is a damn sight better than that pathetic EP of trash folder ideas BMTH released last year.