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For those who don’t know, the word ‘vestigial’ indicates a small remnant of something that was once much greater and/or more noticeable (adjective) or something that’s since become functionless over the course of evolution (pertaining to the body or our organs).
I mention this because sometimes all you need to decipher and fully understand a release’s perspective and meaning is the very name in which it was given. (That, and the fact that vestigial is just a really fucking cool word too). I feel that both of the above meanings are the metaphorical focus that drives home the themes, imagery and lyrics of Lo!’s monstrous new LP, ‘Vestigial‘; a three-sided metaphor for our world’s dark times, the moral and ethical rot within all of us, and what I am guessing are some more reserved, once-positive personal experiences of the four band members that have since withered out into something negative, something lesser.
Following 2015’s most excellent ‘Tongueless’ EP (‘Orca’ is still integral listening and watching two years on), ‘Vestigial‘ is an unshakable beast. This record is a dark, grotesque showing of metallic hardcore, post-metal and sludge; morphing and twisting into a grey area of heavy sounds in the vile process. It’s a very… ugly record, for lack of a better word, but fittingly so I feel. There’s a kind of subterranean atmosphere surrounding this new record, the kind that hangs thick in the air around its harsh sonics and pummeling instrumentation. Listening to a Lo! album – whether it’s the aforementioned 2015 EP or their last proper full-length, 2013’s ‘Monstrorum Historia‘ – has always been a kind of a figurative and emotionally apocalyptic journey, and this 11-track behemoth is no different!
More often than not, Lo! burst into these sections of blistering riffs, fast rhythms, vicious blast beats, and moments of pure, seething aggression. Look no further than mid-album standout ‘Locust Christ‘, the mammoth tune that is ‘Judas Steer‘, or the early ripper of ‘As Fools Ripen‘ for such savagery. However, sometimes the Sydney band chooses to slow things down – well, somewhat – and focus on crushing the listener by sandwiching their ears between the massive bass lines of Adrian Shapiro, the huge guitar riffs of Carl Whitbread, Sam Dillon’s vehement growls and screams, and Adrian Griffin’s pounding work behind the drums. Whereas other times, the four-piece instead opt to creep in these finer melodic lines, non-heavy instrumentation and other musical subtleties into the mix to add some much-needed dynamics to their caustic sound. (See: the eerie interlude ‘Bombardier‘, the tension-building intro piece of ‘Hall Of Extinct Mammals‘, the start of ‘A Tiger Moths Shadow‘, the middle-eight of ‘Glutton‘, the end of the epic, tremolo-ridden hardcore album closer, ‘Gods Of Ruin‘).
However, in either of these three instances, Lo! prove they are by far one of the most lethal bands in Australian heavy music. Possibly even the world.
I’ve had ‘Vestigial’ since a few days before it dropped last month and I always kept coming back to it time and time again. Why? Because it’s a vile, evil, intensive yet very satisfying heavy release, one that moulds elements of the heavy music giants such as Converge, Lamb Of God, and Meshuggah to create a familiar but damned solid record overall. ‘Vestigial’ is Lo!’s strongest offering to date, from front to back. Do not sleep on this shit any longer!
1. Hall Of Extinct Mammals
2. As Fools Ripen
4. Locust Christ
5. Butcher Birds
7. A Tiger Moths Shadow
8. Judas Steer
9. Bestial Beginnings
10. The Worms Lament
11. Gods Of Ruin
‘Vestigial’ is out now. Get it here. Check out the amazingly creepy music video for ‘Locust Christ’ below. The band’s bassist and director/producer, Adrian Shapiro, is one sick but talented individual behind the camera!