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Great sound and music but vocals spoil EP for LBS - 65%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, July 19th, 2012

Lazarus Blackstar's first EP, self-titled, consists of two songs, one of which is included on the band's second album "Funeral Voyeur". Recorded when Paul Catten was LBS's vocalist, this EP demonstrates the band's strengths and weaknesses: LBS at the time had a great sound, deep and booming, but Catten's voice on the recording is too ragged and screechy for the music and the limited range it's stuck in for the entire EP becomes a major irritant. The musicians give the impression of wanting to be a hardcore band with a socially aware conscience: not a bad thing in itself but when there are so many other bands with a similar awareness and playing more or less similar music and even partaking of the same influences and resorting to use of spoken word field recordings to obtain that extra industrial hard edge, LBS during its Paul Catten period was in danger of drowning in an ocean of too many near-clones.

"Make Believe Master" boasts some powerful rumbling chords and riffs that together with the drums pound and chug at leisurely pace but are pushed into the background by Catten's shrill screaming. The song is very repetitive as well and Catten's voice barely comes back down to earth from its high-volume pulmonary blow-out. The lyrics aren't much out of the ordinary for the kind of music LBS was playing in 2004: brainwashing of human minds by a false messiah who promises security and comfort but whose intention for humanity is enslavement.

"The Anaesthetic Stopped Me Screaming" - well yes, that would be true in most situations but not even a whole 100-gallon load of it might bring Catten's voice down an octave to a level more bearable where listeners can actually hear what he's singing. The song is of the betrayal of trust by those institutions and experts we are advised and trained to trust in. The music is as strong as ever but seems set deliberately distant in the mix. There are very brief instrumental breaks in the song in-between screeches and something of the band's potential is glimpsed before it's buried beneath another set of vocal rants.

Had I reviewed this EP before Catten left the band, I'd have said that LBS either should consider taking on a second set of vocals, either by getting another singer or having someone else in the band on voice duties, or let Catten go and hirr someone else with a larger vocal range and one suited to the band's sludge doom style. As kismet turned out, Catten did leave the band and LBS got Mik Hell whose deeper, more gravelly style of singing suits the music better. Some big old guy up high in the sky must like LBS so much that he pulled some very powerful strings!