My album of the year - simply superb.
In the final four months of 2013, I was rocketing towards the end of my high-school days and would soon be moving onto university in the following year. It was an exciting but admittedly scary time for myself, and for many of my friends and classmates who were in the same boat. As it can be somewhat daunting for one to leave the safety net of their parents, the daily routine of school life, the teachers that help and guide you as a young adult, and in some cases, leaving the very home and the familiar faces that you've become so accustomed to.
During such a formative and crucial time in one’s life, you can latch onto any number of things for emotional and mental support. It could be anything from sports to video games to a monotonous part-time job or even to partaking in dangerous levels of partying and drugs, in search of ever-elusive permanent escapism. For me, that support came in the form of music. And one record from 2013 that truly spoke to me, one that helped me greatly through my eighteenth year of life, and one that has remained with me ever since was ‘Something In Us Died’; the truly awesome, heavy, and melancholic debut album from France's Lòdz.
I had never heard of this French post-rock/post-metal band prior to this first meeting, yet I absolutely fell in love with it from the very first listen. Hell, I still love that album now! The eerie, percussion-less composition of ‘Walking Like Shades’ became the soundtrack to my dark, early morning train rides to school and the grand, climactic album finale of ‘Close To The Flames’ still gives me chills today. ‘Detachment’, ‘Closed Hospitals’ and ‘Leading The Rats’ still feel just as heavy and imposingly bleak as they ever were. In fact, overall, ‘Something In Us Died’ holds up exceptionally well today and its play count on my iTunes has only increased as the years have gone by.
But just like the never-halting river of time, this French quartet hasn't stopped either and four years on from that debut release, Lòdz are back with their second album; the epic and ominously titled ‘Time Doesn’t Heal Anything’. Now, when the advance stream of ‘Time Doesn’t Heal Anything’ came through my email inbox, I was having a pretty shitty couple days (I won't go into the specifics) but when I received that email, a goofy smile immediately spread across my just previously gloomy face. I mean, I wasn't even aware that the band were even releasing a new album, nor even that Lodz was even still fucking together! So this album's arrival was a truly pleasant surprise for me.
Of course, let's not kid ourselves here, I’m indeed looking at this new record through the very rose-tinted glasses that their debut full-length placed upon me just four years prior. No two ways about it. Yet even I was highly sceptical of how this new record would stack up. For how could it ever live up its predecessor; an album that had helped me so much and a record that countless metal bands would be more than lucky to have as their debut? Well, cream in my jeans, Lòdz have done just that. For the sound that began on their solid 2012 EP 'And Then Emptiness' which was thenexceptionally refined on 'Something In Us Died', has now been mastered and pushed to its very peak with 'Time Doesn't Heal Anything'.
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[caption id="attachment_1090834" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Lòdz 2017.[/caption]
When I first hit play on the opening song, ‘Negligence’, I had two immediate thoughts enter my mind. The first was, “Yep, if this opening riff is anything to go on, then this is indeed another Lòdz album”. The second thought that I then had as the song continued was, “Jesus Christ, this album could be potentially perfect!" And oh god, how it was! What works so effectively about Lòdz is how the individual parts of their sound, when they're fused together, amount to one of the most potent musical frameworks you'll find in heavy music this year. Very, very bold words, I know, but let me explain my case.
It's the throaty black metal, almost-death metal screams that punctuate each track - namely on the previously mentioned 'Negligence' and the thunderous nature of the seven-minute punisher of 'The Sound Of Deceit' - that take big inspiration from a band like The Ocean, but that's no bad thing. On the flip side, the haunting, European accented singing that's displayed across all eight songs soars above the chaos below and at many times, the cleans only just peek out of the mix; drawing you in further. (This approach gave me a little Radiohead vibe at times, as fucking odd as that sounds.) Some great examples of this are the wondrous, heartfelt crescendoing passages of 'This Feeling', the soft lulls in heaviness on the touching finale 'Everything Is Fine', and the driving verses of 'Shattered Dreams' - verses that prelude two of the album's best choruses - all of which are utterly captivating.
It's the well-dispersed, intricate layers of guitar work utilised throughout, like the distorted, impactful palm-muted chugs underpinning the sparse and distant guitar licks on 'Cataract'. Or the use of droning baritone guitars and bright clean chords in the spine-tingling 'Nothing Else To Do'. Or even the vast, reverberant tremolo and audibly delicious lead parts that creep in on each song that proves Lòdz can deliver the heavy and the melodic goods. Likewise, the crunchy, present bass lines that fit perfectly under the other instrumentation like on the verses in 'Everything Is Fine', 'Shattered Dreams' and the beautifully bleak title track - keeping these overwhelming metal soundscapes full of grit, energy, and force.
It's how the band makes you feel with their grand music. It's how the band's emotionally chilling timbres and melancholic, ominous melodies weaved throughout, stemming from the guitar and vocal melodies, that imbue all of these eight songs with the ability to summon up desolate yet vivid mental images. Images of one standing upon the precipices of towering Norwegian cliffsides like Trolltunga or Pulpit Rock or that of standing right at the edge of an expansive Icelandic wasteland; as if you were mere inches from the edge of the very Earth itself.
It’s Lòdz’s knack for longer than average song lengths that allow the band to create truly dynamic peaks and nulls across not just the album at large, but also the songs on a microcosmic level. It’s how you can hear and feel the space - the very “air” - around the tight, punchy, and pristine drumming; adding even another layer to the already monstrous sound. It's how the album's damn solid mix and tight production (once again recorded with Fabrice Boy and mastered by Nick Zampiello) build upon Lòdz’s already terrific songwriting foundations, never once detracting from the actual songs (how a great mix should be) all with great instrumental balances and suitable reverb and delays in all the right places. 'Negligence' is a damn fine example of the latter, and the former can be seen across each of these damn fine eight songs.
It's how the real remarkable wonder of Lòdz's sound is how their music is heavy, loud and crushing precisely when they need it to be; how their songs are delicate, dynamic and dark when the timing is just right; and it's how their music uses repetitive motifs, well-executed crescendos and epic climaxes at essentially the perfect moment for true maximum effect. These four songwriters really are experts of their particular craft, and they're doing exactly what they do best with this new record. So when all of those above musical elements that I just spent around 500 words detailing are all molded together, you once again, have one of the strongest musical frameworks you'll find in the heavy music world in 2017. Which all amounts to the eight truly awe-inspiring compositions found on 'Time Doesn't Heal Anything'.
[caption id="attachment_1090835" align="aligncenter" width="757"] Lòdz live. PC: Suzann Lewis.[/caption]
Look, I could just go on and on and fuckin' on about this phenomenal album, but let's start to wind this down, aye? As you can guess, I have a deep appreciation and love for the textured intricacy and striking beauty that post-rock/post-metal bands employ, especially bands of the cold, foreign, European/UK variety. Whether it’s the non-technical yet expertly written epics of Collapse Under The Empire, the emotionally crippling nature of bands like Mogwai, the melodic hardcore influences found in Haze’s music, the expressiveness of our own Australian darlings, sleepmakeswaves, or even the crippling heaviness displayed by more familiar US bands like ISIS; this music just... clicks with me, for lack of a better description. And my love for it has been shaped even more so by Lòdz, as they brilliantly combine and execute each of the traits from those aforementioned, like-minded artists, all to a better effect I must admit.
Yet oddly and thankfully enough, 'Time Doesn't Heal Anything' never once feels derivative of others nor does it ever once feel phoned-in. On the contrary, it all feels effortless, natural, focused and it's an incredibly consistent release too; in terms of musical tone, its emotional and remorseful themes, musical performance, delivery, and just pure overall quality.
A record like this only comes around once or twice a year, and with their second magnum opus, Lòdz has just cemented themselves as one the finest metal bands of this decade. Shit, there I go again with my bold, overzealous writer claims, but fuck it! This record is second to none for yours truly. Now, sure, while we are only just exiting the early morning hours of 2017, I remain more than confident - more than confident - that come December 31st, more so than any other release in 2017, 'Time Doesn't Heal Anything' will still stand tall as my album of the year.
From the front to the very back, I genuinely love this album - 'Time Doesn't Heal Anything' is my album of the year for 2017. I'm sure that some readers may (and will) scoff and scratch their heads in confusion at the idea of me emblazoning this post-rock/post-metal record with a coveted, perfect score. But I admit that I cannot hear their text-based groaning over how bloody much I'm enjoying and listening to the latest and greatest release from Lòdz; a band that's rapidly becoming one of my all-time favourites.
2. Time Doesn’t Heal Anything
3. The Sound Of Deceit
4. Shattered Dreams
5. Nothing Else To Do
7. This Feeling
8. Everything Is Fine
‘Time Doesn’t Heal Anything’ is out now. Get it here. It's amazing, cheers. To any who read this entire review, you are deeply commended and thanked.