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Though some may think that this album is weird, and I agree, it does not mean that it is pop music nor industrial nor electronic music at all. It is one the most mature black metal acts with all the experimentation or the contemporary society and all the dark and hopeless reflections of humanity decay. Although their music is unpredictable and its range goes through genres different than metal, the composition of the whole album is consistent and equally apocalyptic in each song. The content of the lyrics is totally black metal but in the guise of our age, not just blasphemy in the name of satan but quite an elaborate literary work which portraits the decadence and end of an age that has last too long, the age of humanity, exterminated by its own ignorance and stupidity. The variety of the music may help the average listener to get lost in a labyrinth of darkjazzmetalelectronic experiment and discard it quickly, but if you are of those who like to allow your ears to experiment something new and different, you will probably enjoy deeply this album.
"Breathe in" is just an electronic introduction but it plays an important role in giving an advance of what awaits your afterwards. It is common in black metal and will surprise none because next is "Mother Pandora", quite a traditional black death metal sound, the like of previous Lux Occulta albums. Architecture is still grounded on death metal, but with bits of jazz that give the song quite a particular character. In “Most Arrogant Life Form” the formula repeated, but this time more black metal and less jazz than before. Then it comes "Yet Another Armageddon", which some may called pop, but its jazz engine is undeniable and very suitable for the lyrics and the structure of the album. Gambit has strong industrial sound, and is perfect for the ambient of the album this far, indeed its lyrics are so satirical and obscure that is a pity they are difficult to understand during the song. The title is cleverly perfect. The following “Midnight crisis” is similar in sound and topic to "Yet Another Armageddon"; however, though related somehow, each have its own characteristics and mood. And then is when it turns insane…
Pied Piper is the best and most obscure and deviant metal song I have ever heard! The first half of the song is quite good death metal in such a violent way that mismatch with the beginning of the fable they tell. After three minutes it fades into a void of depraved jazz that seems to be play by the Pied Piper himself! It is completely insane! Then you understand why the fable turns so dark and confusing. There is nothing else to tell about it, just listening to it will allow a clear view of such dark exotic aural panorama. Again “Missa Solemnis” retakes the old Lux Occulta style, and it fits right in the structure of the album and the piece of the story that compounds the entire work. It is a good black death metal song that is consistent with the previous works of Lux Occulta. “Breathe Out” is a fair outro for such an excellent album, and its lyrics are devastating; they are so profound in their simplicity that closes the album in such an awesome manner. In this way the album ends and so the dark prophecy. Let us see how long until it takes place.
Though portraying a decadent age the production of the work is impeccable in sound and lyrical content; a proof that humanity has a potential to show, but darkened by arrogance and misunderstanding of the important issues.
This is quite literally the most unpredictable album I've heard in extreme metal, to the point where some of it doesn't even qualify as metal at all - three tracks are far more likely to be classified as trip-hop than as any form of metal I've even heard, and even on the "metallic" numbers you'll find digressions into techno, jazz, or spoken word.
A lot of people only know Lux Occulta (Latin for "hidden light") as "that side project of Martin and Vogg from Decapitated." This is a shame, because while Decapitated are unquestionably one of the best straight-up death metal acts recording today, Lux Occulta record music of a complexity and intensity that puts even that band's repertoire to shame. My Guardian Anger was a simmering, unholy slab of progressive black metal the likes of which has seldom been heard before and is unlikely to be heard again for quite some time, and this album takes its blueprint and expands on it in every direction imagineable.
Lux Occulta have always been one of the more experimental black metal acts out there, but this album comes as a complete shock upon first listen. It doesn't get much easier on subsequent listens, either; this is difficult subject matter the band are treating here. The mother of the title is Mother Nature, and the enemy is the human race. Several tracks explicitly detail the disintegration of the planet, featuring horrors Biblical in scope of humanity's own making. The music is suitably dark to match, even for Lux Occulta; while My Guardian Anger and previous efforts contained considerable amounts of melodicism for a band this heavy, this album eschews melody almost entirely. The music is more complex than before, as well; Lux Occulta have firmly planted themselves in the math-metal camp of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah et al. with this release, to the point where it becomes clear why they've had such difficulty finding a replacement drummer (percussionist Kriss departed after this record): there are very few people who could play this music.
If anything is in danger of sinking the record, it's the diversity of the tracks here, but after repeated listens the song order begins to make a bit more sense. Unquestionably the highlight of the album, and possibly of the band's entire career, is "Missa Solemnis," which is as good of a career summary as I can imagine for the band's trajectory thus far; other choice cuts include "Mother Pandora," "Architecture," and the three trip-hop numbers (namely, "Yet Another Armageddon," "Midnight Crisis," and "Breathe Out"), which are excellent. I would recommend starting with My Guardian Anger, which might be a stronger record, but this album should not be overlooked. Just don't expect to comprehend it after one listen, or even ten.
(Review originally written for Last.FM: http://www.last.fm/user/Cassandra-Leo/journal/2005/12/5/39664/ )
I've heard many bands that are so called genre defying of the recent years... people claim Children of Bodom are groundbreaking and they somewhat are, but all they need to do is add death growls to their music to be different. Overcast came out and helped further develop and influence the "oh so hated" metalcore, but this new “groundbreaking” metal style has really become overrated...
Lux Occulta, on the other hand, are truely in their own league.
This band has always stuck out to me of the metal crowd... they are the loners of the metal community. They really have great talent, ingenious ideas, striking features but they still are not well known at all. Vogg and Martin play in Poland's mega-giant death stars Decapitated, but if you ask a Decapitated fan about Lux Occulta, they wouldn't have a slight clue to what you're talking about. They really are underrated and just plainly are a strange band. They started playing this so called "epic atmospheric black metal" style which seems to be real cliché today, but now they became this... some really experimental black metal band. This is beyond experimental... this is just twisted stuff here.
To make it short for you, this is basically some black metal thrown in with lots of industrial sound effects mixed with occasional clean "popish" female vocals with an emphasis on jazz guitaring and drumming and occasional death metal tendencies. And believe me, that's as short as I can try describing this unique band!!!! Try thinking about the possible new-born baby bands like Atheist, Kovenant and old school Behemoth might have all together if they had some freaky three way and mixed DNA...
This album is the epitome of what unpredictable is. You've heard it many times... "that band is so unpredictable, you never know what they will do next..." and so on, but THIS (and I mean this!) defines what unpredictable is. Every track is just so damn weird... The first track is an eerie industrial drum beat on loop, leading you to the blackest track on this CD "Mother Pandora." It's black metal indeed... just mixed with some weird pattern drum blast beat and electronic noise in the background. "Architecture" was probably the most unpredictable track for me when I first was listening to this CD. It starts off with a black/death metal blend, but out of no where goes into this jazz break (literally a total jazz break: no metal riffs, no metal drumming, no death/black growls, it sounds like a completely new band! Oh and yes, it has that swing band-sound to it also... "is that actually a trumpet I'm hearing and a saxophone?!") Some tracks, like "Yet Another Armageddon" and "Midnight Crisis" sound totally like another band literally... they aren't metal at all! They are like experimental jazz pop songs with industrial dubs over everything. It's just really interesting stuff... just this, after a while, becomes waaaaaay too experimental and unpredictable to listen to, leaving you to be somewhat annoyed because they keep switching up on the musical sound. Plus, there's too much use and reliability on sample usage on this CD.
In short, I see Lux Occulta as that strange ole experimental band of the metal scene. It's like going through a mental institution and experiencing what's happening in each patients head, one person at a time... that's how schizophrenic this album is. In Lux Occulta's case, making Lux Occulta metal is a good thing... strange you say? Listen to this stuff and you'll soon agree with me. Only listen to this band if you can tolerate total weird experimentation and technicallity.
Ear Catchers: Every track is a unique experience, so don't skip a song on this CD.
Lux Occulta has always struck me as a band with ambition and creativity but without the inspiration or ability to really pull off their game convincingly. They started off playing slow, dreamy black/doom of a sort with lots of pretty embellishments, and by their third LP, "My Guardian anger" had assumed more of a death metal mask. "My Guardian Anger", though awkward in places and making use of synthesiser in an occasionally flowery manner, is without doubt the band's most accomplished work; and one might be forgiven for expecting even greater subsequent developments from the Lux Occulta camp upon hearing it.
However, what we have contained on this 2001 album is what probably amounts to the death gasps of the band, or at least an end to the Lux Occulta sound as we know it, multifarious though that sound may be. Lux Occulta always have had a little trouble finding their niche. Some might argue that this is more a case of a band that is eager to experiment and push the envelope of their sound, but it has always seemed to me as if they were a bit lost in the metal world and not quite sure how best to manifest their ideas.
No more so is this evident than on "The Mother and the Enemy". No longer content to try recording different albums each with a rather novel and unique approach, the band has thrown so many contrasts onto this disc that the result is like being at some horrible dinner party where the host, completely oblivious to matters of mood or flow, throws a dozen CDs into his disc changer from his mum's gospel collection to his six year old son's kiddy anthems to his neighbour Bob's Argentinian tango and Residents albums. Listening to this album is like going on a club tour of a big city, briefly stopping by each bar to see if the music is worth paying the exorbitant cover charge, and then moving on. At best this is rather annoying, and at worst it's incredibly jarring and kills any mood Lux Occulta seem to have been trying to build.
And unfortunately, as would probably be the case with the majority of these clubs, the music on offer here, whether it's the jangly and mechanical but rather technical death metal sounding stuff, or the Portishead-like female fronted mellow stuff, or the noisy and repetitive industrial metal stuff, is not terribly interesting. Predictably the band is at their best when in as close to full death metal mode as possible, but even this formula falls short. What this particular style of playing reminds me of most is of course the band's previous album, but with the tinkling, rolling synthesiser noodling replaced with mechanical noises and such. It's rather like the heavier tracks on Fleurety's "Department of Apocalyptic affairs", but much more aggressive and less quirky. It doesn't help that although these songs sound impressively overwhelming at first in the sense that only technical metal can be, with their off-kilter and stuttery rhythms and unexpected breaks and wanky guitar solos, repeated listens makes one realise that interspersed are a lot of drawn out, boring sections that generally possess about as much riff craft as your average "noisecore" or industrial metal album. Often, as in the case with Meshuggah, its only the unconventional rhythmic nature of the music that makes it seem complex and challenging, though to be fair, Lux Occulta are not afraid to show that they are in fact superb musicians from time to time. This fails to impress though on anything other than a level of surface aesthetics, and not even a surprise twist like the wailing saxophone solo that comes out of nowhere in "Architecture" are going to save these tracks, at least for this listener.
And that's not even half the album. We also get some vaguely jazzy sounding pieces that feature a woman with a decent, lower-range voice taking centre stage and backed by "groovin" electronic percussion and synthesised burblings. I must admit that I enjoy the music of Portishead and some similar artists from time to time, and in no way are these Lux Occulta tracks as hideous as the slightly discordant disco otherwise known as EBM. They're quite inoffensive, though, and one has to wonder why, in a song like "Yet Another Armageddon", which has a pretty catchy melody and swingin' shuffle beat, why this full band doesn't make use of all its members so much of the time and really spice this thing up. For the electronic arrangements are sparse and simple, and I find myself unconciously adding in sliding bass fills and cleanly picked jazz guitar in my head, just to keep from growing bored with this minimalistic platter. More to the point though, these tracks don't work because this is not Lux Occulta's territory. They're treading water in these alien musical climes that they are dabbling in, and for a veteran *metal* act, this is far from good enough.
I haven't even spoken of the heavier, more industrial influenced side of this album. It rears its head a few times and let me tell you, it is far from pretty and will have most of you, I suspect, itching for the "skip" button within a very short order unless you find the idea of Fear Factory with screechy vocals and a needle stuck in a record groove appealing. Imagine the annoying, bullshit "riff" intro to "Replica" slowed down and looped for five minutes...if you dare.
Sometimes the band mixes these styles within songs, but the preferred method seems to be to keep the disparate elements separate most of the time. I still can't decide whether this is really a positive asset or not. Probably, since death metal that randomly switches to industrial and trip-hop within the same song would be a frightening and dire prospect. However, these guys are certainly not Sigh or even the also rather crap Maudlin of the Well, and the crazy juxtaposition of styles on offer here won't convince anyone. What will Lux Occulta do next? Either address the obvious schism within their ranks and settle on something to play, or break up, I expect.