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Lycus > Chasms > Reviews
Lycus - Chasms

Essential listening for fans of funeral doom. - 90%

Roswell47, March 10th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Relapse Records

Listening to Lycus is like descending into the abyss of a pitch black cavern with only a lone candle to light the way. What horrors await just beyond the flickering light? Did you just see movement out of the corner of your eye, or was it only the shadows dancing across the walls? If you make it out, will you ever be the same?

Oakland's Lycus is a band that I connected with immediately upon hearing 2013's Tempest. The band's dark, doomy vibes spoke to me on a deep level that I couldn't quite identify. Tempest turned out to be one of my favorite albums of 2013, and ever since then, I've been anxiously anticipating a follow-up. Almost three years later Lycus' new masterpiece, Chasms, has arrived. Let's descend further into the darkness, shall we?

Chasms, as a whole, has a deep echoing cavernous feel. The guitars feature distorted funereal chugs, watery clean tones, and mournful lead melodies. The bass and the drums form a thick sepulchral floor supporting the songs. The drums are mostly played at a slow, solemn pace at times utilizing huge rolling toms and swaying rhythms. However, there are also occasional double bass accents and full-blown blast beats that keep things interesting. The vocals vary between deep death growls, and cleanly sung parts that can sound like anything between a somber choir or a cult performing some sort of unholy ancient rites. Black metal screams also appear upon rare occasion, usually accompanying the drums when they dive headfirst into a burst of blast beats. A guest cello player rounds out the sound on a couple of the songs, adding a further level of sadness to the mournful vibe.

Much like Tempest, Chasms features just a handful of songs across a forty minute running time. This means that the tracks vary between roughly seven to thirteen minutes each. Luckily, the members of Lycus are masters of this form of writing, so the songs never become boring. In fact, these tunes feel more like a journey into the depths of human emotion than mere songs. All four of the tracks on Chasms are relatively similar, which gives the album a feel of one long conceptual piece. Each song focuses on only a few musical themes. Lycus builds upon these themes by gradually adding layers as the tracks move along. Or in contrast, the songs become more sparse as the band removes layers of instruments and in turn creates a lonely vibe of desolation. Surprisingly, this never becomes dull and is in fact quite enthralling.

Although all of the songs on Chasms have a similar vibe and level of quality, the title track might have a slight edge on the other three songs. The combination of the title track's sad introspective early-Anathema crawl, creepy delayed notes, mournful cello melodies, and snaky bass lines might make it the song to check out first if you've never heard the band. Although, the album should really be enjoyed in its entirety to be fully appreciated. Ideally, Chasms should be heard at home in a darkened room on a nice stereo or preferably even on headphones. This isn't an album for cruising around town; it deserves a focused listen. Hold the artwork in your hands as you listen, and concentrate on the atmosphere the whole package generates.

Chasms is a mandatory purchase for anyone who enjoys Tempest. In fact, Chasms is essential listening for fans of funeral doom in general. People who are into Skepticism, Mournful Congregation, Ahab or maybe even Triptykon will find something to like here. If loneliness, sadness, and despair are your thing, you've found your new favorite album in Chasms. Pick up your own copy of Chasms, and begin your journey into the deep.

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