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Sticking to black / death metal results in a work of pain and sorrow - 88%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 13th, 2021

Inspired by "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror", American horror-fiction writer Thomas Ligotti's book of essays on the meaninglessness of life and the idea that there is no purpose to existence and consciousness is a curse on humanity (so having children is immoral: parents would be condemning sentient offspring to lives of no meaning or purpose), along with influences from writer Edgar Allan Poe and (of course) poet Isidore Ducasse aka Comte de Lautréamont, Russian blackened death metal guys Lautreamont recorded "The Cult of Grinning Martyrs" during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown which went national across Russia in March, 2020. At the time they recorded the album, Lautreamont were down to two members, Wrath on percussion and Dread on vocals, bass and guitars.

Heard casually, Lautreamont have a slight jangly guitar tone that reminds me of French occult black metal guys Deathspell Omega, though Lautreamont's overall sound is more straightforward death metal in style and less dense and complex in sound and structure. The duo's style of aggressive black /death metal attack, powered by blast-beat drumming and continuously burning tremolo guitar chords (which often dive into dark, bleak dissonance - another point of similarity with DSO), is on full display in opening track "Broken Claws" and keeps going all the way through the next six songs. Monstrous death metal vocals complete this dark and malevolent package. Songs feature plenty of melody and riff loops which aren't immediately catchy but grow on you the more you hear them.

The album really starts to hit its stride with middle tracks "Brotherhood of Suffering", a despairing song with solemn clean-voiced choirs, bleak atmospheres, near-shrieky lead guitar and relentless thrumming riffs and percussion, and "Unpersons" which features searing guitar tones and hard-hitting blast-beat drumming. There appears to be no bass on these songs but the light quality of the sound highlights the hopelessness, the fatalism and resignation in the songs' mood. "A.D.W.A.D." brings in another layer of raw guitar noise that ramps up the tension, the uncertainty and the despair of living a nihilist existence. The band keeps going all the way to the end with this distinctive style of atmospheric depressive black / death metal: it almost veers into post-BM with painfully bleak atmospheres, forays into near-doom with prolonged droning riffs, many changes in speed within songs, and rough guttural vocals that might almost be reciting an apocalyptic tale of the end of humanity. The title track achieves heights of epic black / death / doom tragedy.

The Lautreamont men do such a great job of portraying a nihilist philosophy of the world and what it means to live without purpose or meaning in unrelentingly bleak music that you can believe they truly believe in this philosophy themselves. The distinct guitar tones they have that invite comparison with DSO is put to use creating an immersive sound world of immense nihilistic devastation with no room for hope or optimism. The band's sound is not all that deep and heavy, and in most songs the bass guitar either doesn't exist or is hard to hear in the noise, yet the sparse sound that results turns out to be absolutely raw and full of pain and sorrow. By sticking to a classic death metal style with black metal elements, and playing with these where it suits their purpose of reflecting their literary inspirations, Lautreamont end up delivering a highly atmospheric and emotional work of depressive music.