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The journey from Loathe’s ‘Prepare Consume Proceed‘ EP up till now is staggering. ‘I Let It In And It Took Everything‘ takes the sound and vision of Loathe’s 2017’s debut LP, ‘The Cold Sun,’ and amplifies it all ten-fold. Basically, that first LP started it, but their sophomore effort hones it into a pure art-form unlike anything heard before from this U.K act. Their record label, SharpTone, often uses the tag-line “A New Era of Music…” as apart of their marketing, but Loathe is their only signed artist that actually feels like a band heralding in a new era of heavy music.
The endless Deftones comparisons surrounding Loathe are worn-out, yet they’re never not applicable. The timbre, breathy closeness of the vocal mix, and the note choice of the huge vocal hooks that guitarist/singer Erik Bickerstaffe belts out are very much Chino Moreno homages. The chorus melodies of ‘A Sad Cartoon,’ which interject between low-tuned riffs and giant stomping rhythm sections, are layered over one another and how they sit around the rest of the arrangement ain’t that far off from a ‘Koi No Yokan‘-type hook. And the strong shoegaze sound of cuts like the dreamy, distant and darkened ‘Is It Really You?‘ and the glorious ‘Two-Way Mirror‘ contain mass amounts of ‘Tones vibes.
Whilst old-hat, it’s still fun to make jokes and memes about this comparison, with Chino himself sharing the video for ‘Two War Mirror‘ on his Twitter recently. Even I’ve done so above by listing “Deftones” as one of Loathe’s genres. These comparisons are quite apt, yet that’s not all that ‘I Let It In…‘ is. As there’s SO MUCH more going on under the hood. To claim otherwise because this band clearly likes what Chino and his pals do is either dishonesty, ignorance, or both. For one, there’s plenty of other-worldly, cinematic interludes dotting this record, like the soft ambient opener ‘Theme‘ or the synthy ocean-waves of ‘A Sad Cartoon (Reprise)‘ that bring back its sisters tracks chord progressions.
Not only that, but there are loads of demented, twisted and progressive-sounding nu-metalcore slappers to be had. We’ve already heard the skittish breakdowns, killer grooves, and hazy pitch-shifting of ‘Aggressive Evolution,’ as well as the distressing, whirring heaviness of ‘Gored,’ with its near-suffocating darkness and doomy, world-ending breakdown. So what about the rest of this bad boy? I’m so glad you didn’t ask because I’m gonna tell you anyway! ‘Broken Vision Rhythm‘ sounds like Loathe is just straight-up mangling their instruments, with mental-sounding guitar bends and some cheeky Meshuggah-like riffs included. With a tom-heavy build-up, explosive screams, and monstrous laser-beam-like pick-scrapes, ‘Red Room‘ is a short yet utterly gnarly experience, like a less-ridiculous Car Bomb or a Dealer song except good.
Elsewhere, the white-hot ‘Heavy Is The Head That Falls With The Weight Of A Thousand Thoughts‘ doesn’t fuck about; it kicks right off with surging blast beats, tremolo riffs, and distorted, reverb-soaked screams before Loathe’s angular guitars, bouncy sections, and propulsive song-structures takeover. It’s Loathe bringing in modern black metal influences – not counting that wicked nu-metalcore passage in the middle part that sees them striking at their heaviest – and I can’t say enough good things about it.
Loathe always enjoy throwing in other musical styles to help keep things interesting and give their songs forward momentum. Much like that wicked samba beat coupled with metallic clanging and claps heard midway through ‘Dance On My Skin.’ This second LP is no different. There’s the chorus-dipped, new-wave intro riff to ‘New Faces In The Dark‘; the searing, blackened blast-beats that make up the first half of ‘Heavy Is The Head…‘; the dry, over-compressed drums that ground the ethereal shoegaze moments; ‘Is It Really You?‘ surprisingly playing around with 90’s alt-rock; how the titular song ropes in both Loathe’s insanely heavy tunings and strums alongside their melodic, distortion-saturated alt-rock detours, drenching both in de-tuned, murky waters full of glittering synths and subtle layers that make for a gloomy, mesmerizing finale. There’s so much to unpack with this album.
At its end, ‘Aggressive Evolution‘ speaks about worlds colliding, and that’s not only what best exemplifies this record’s lengthy closing eponymous moment, but this sublime album as a whole, too. For just like the impressive dual-vocal style of frontman Kadeem France – who smoothly jumps between immense low growls, seething mid-range screams, high-pitched viciousness, and on certain songs, nicely adding in clean vocal harmonies to the fray – Loathe’s new LP is never just one thing. It’s Loathe’s musical dexterity and adaptability that makes them stand out so much these days; showing ambition, creativity, and talent far beyond their years as a band.
Loathe’s self-adopted phrase of “Loathe as one” is them basically saying that they’re not just five different people, but a single musical collective. And that thinking follows onto the feel and flow of ‘I Let It In…‘; a coherent and complete record, in its themes, guileful industrial aspects, and deeper atmospherics alike. Every song ebbs and flows into one another beautifully, with the record shifting and evolving like a movie score, each song stitching the scenes of some fictional film together. There’s the reversed voice sample heard right at the very end of ‘Aggressive Evolution‘ before ‘Broken Vision Rhythm‘ kicks down your front door. We’ve got the big, moody retro movie-score synths and hazy dialogue samples of ‘451 Days‘ merging into the opening phased-out riff of ‘New Faces In The Dark‘; a wonderful bridging moment given the vintage feel of ‘451 Days‘ and the fact that ‘New Faces In The Dark‘ (and ‘Gored‘) was tracked on old 70’s recording gear.
Then there’s how the bassy rumbles that drift in and out through the ether on ‘Is It Really You?,’ or like how ‘Heavy is The Head…‘ gets overtaken by this overwhelming wash of distortion and eerie looped vocals, before a frail acoustic guitar figure with jazz chords appears, setting up the post-punk new-wave style of ‘A Sad Cartoon.’ A song that, at first, sounds it could’ve been an old Title Fight or Superheaven jam. Loathe has meticulously pieced this beast together, and it shows: every part has a larger meaning to adhere to. I yearn for more bands to put half as much thought into the atmosphere and track-flow experience of their records as Loathe has done here.
I read somewhere once that the best music makes you feel alive, and I’ve never wanted to die less than when I’m listening to Loathe’s latest and greatest. ‘I Let It In And It Took Everything’ is about fully embracing a passion, and letting it completely consume you; whether it be music, a person, or some kind of art or other obsession. For Loathe, on this stunning second LP, that could be just one or all of the above things. That’s also my underlying hope for everyone else going into this record come Friday, February 7th: to have an open mind and to (hopefully) be consumed by how truly powerful their sophomore record is. For with ‘I Let It In And It Took Everything’, Loathe has released the first great album of this new decade; a very early yet very easy AOTY contender for me in 2020.
The variety of sounds and genres Loathe experiment with, and the multitude of comparisons that they get hit with, all leads me to one final conclusion: they’re one hell of a unique band! Loathe clearly have their influences and inspirations, but just like the best bands of today, they take those older torches and run with them in exciting directions – some familiar, some new. Essentially, here, Loathe just sounds like Loathe; it’s deftly them. It’s easy, and often a little lazy and hyperbolic, to simply wax lyrical about the future of heavy music, but honestly, fuck that! This is the now and Loathe’s near-perfect second effort embodies the present exceptionally. So open up, let it in.
- Aggressive Evolution
- Broken Vision Rhythm
- Two-Way Mirror
- 451 Days
- New Faces In The Dark
- Red Room
- Is It Really You?
- Heavy Is The Head That Falls With The Weight Of A Thousand Thoughts
- A Sad Cartoon
- A Sad Cartoon (reprisal)
- I Let It In And It Took Everything
‘I Let It In And It Took Everything’ opens up February 7th: