It’s already January -1st and I already have an album I was hyped about! Lycus’ 2013 debut was an extremely solid funeral doom record with massive soundscapes that gave off an aura of depression, somberness, and I would even say oddly enough, hope at times. It didn’t feel nearly as bleak as other funeral doom records do. However now the gloves are off, and Lycus starts right off with a guitar shriek, before going into a dirge of filth and doom.
While I would put Tempest on the lighter side of funeral doom, Chasms feels like its title indicates, that it’s the sound that lurks in the chasms of the underworld. However, while it is refreshing to hear a different sound, I don’t think that’s what Lycus does best. Their best work is when they throwback to their last record, ironically on the title track of the album. What really gets me about this track is the harmonies and chords they use, specifically starting at around the 8 minute mark.
They go through a slew of jazzy chords, including the repeated use of the C7b5 (if it’s not C, it’s still certainly a 7b5). You don’t often hear jazz chords in funeral doom, so I never quite realized how refreshing and delightful it is. It’s sort of like putting together whiskey and ice cream. Hard hitting, but with some sweetness to it, though I imagine getting drunk off whiskey and ice cream would be a lot more pleasant than getting drunk while listening to funeral doom. While I wasn’t feeling the violins to close and end the piece (they felt more like decoration than anything else), the track itself was a lush, beautiful, and heartbreaking doom ballad that’s easily the best track on the album.
However then the band does something even different from that, going into an infrequent blast beat frenzy on Mirage, with the track sounding more chaotic and less pleasing to hear than what they previously offered. It’s certainly an interesting direction, but it’s not the direction I think the band should go. As I said before, Lycus is at their best when the listener feels sorrowful, yet strangely inspired, not when the listener to scrambling to figure out what the heck they’re listening to. The fourth track feels like a mere afterthought, meant to be an epic finale, but feels drawn out and bland compared to the rest of the tracks on the album.
Overall this is another solid record from the US based doom band, a slight improvement at that. However there are times where I simply get bored, and as much as I can praise this, there’s never a moment where I feel like this album is any more than an 8 at max.