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The mescaline must be kicking in. - 90%

Diamhea, March 27th, 2014

I don't think I have ever had a more difficult time formulating my opinion regarding an album. I have been listening to Loss Angeles for going on ten years, and I certainly got the vibe that I was missing the point at many junctures. It shouldn't come as too much of a shock to the system after the near-equally peculiar Pervertigo, but the disposal of nearly all of the band's original stylings really accentuates the seclusive atmosphere here, tossing the listener into the darkened streets of Gothamburg and leaving them to their own devices amongst the fog-obscured streetlights that pull society's underdrippings from their hiding places.

That said, Throne of Chaos can always be relied on for a great, tongue-in-cheek lyrical performance. We get more of that than ever here, and the shift on vocals from Kiljunen to Nieminen does the band great favors, scrapping the shaky clean performances from Pervertigo and replacing them through rock solid mid-paced dirges like "The Window," "May Lou Is Dead," and "Blue Lady." Loss Angeles is a loosely conceptual piece, addressing themes of drug abuse and ambivalence towards lost loves - all set to the soundtrack of urban decay. While these are relatively common conceptual abstractions, Throne of Chaos always delivers them in an atypical and refreshing way. For example, the group even earns a few chuckles on the otherwise exceptionally dark "Bite the Bullet," throwing about lines like "I hate your guts, but otherwise you're fine." Other than a few death growls on "Break-a-Neck" and "Acid Highway," this is the Tuomas Nieminen show. Dude has a great, resonant set of pipes on him and has the ability to bend his voice in unnatural directions to achieve a certain mood.

While Sjöblom's progressive, twinkling synths are less prominent than ever, it isn't necessarily a huge detraction here. The emphasis is almost universally on the vocals and the ambiance they summon. If you are looking for speed, you certainly won't find it here, as Throne of Chaos is more concerned with crafting their narrative noir than ripping the floorboards out from underneath you. Even so, "Acid Highway" easily takes the prize for the most complete, enthralling composition here. It's malleable ability to go from grooving power metal riffs into an uplifting, somber keyboard-driven outro speaks volumes to the band's songwriting chops. Despite a lack of spirited leadwork (they are here, just not in high quantity), nearly every stylistic risk the band has taken has paid off immensely here. I didn't agree with much of Pervertigo, mainly because the band hadn't fully committed to the offbeat aesthetic they so awkwardly purported on said album. On Loss Angeles, Throne of Chaos stops trying to live up to the constrictive genre tags they were earlier associated with and just let the ideas flow. How cruel is it then that nobody gave two shits about this album when it was originally released?

While I will concede that many of the slower power ballads here like "Wait" may be difficult to sell on their own, it is the ease in which they fit into the engrossing whole that truly embodies what makes this album work so well. While my version comes with the exceptionally-executed Judas Priest cover as a bonus track, it is "Smoke on the Water" that truly accentuates how well Throne of Chaos can adapt to stylistic mutation. From flesh melting melodic power metal to understated and anthemic rockers like on Loss Angeles; what else can I contribute it to other than the skill of these Finns?

Much fuss has been made over the fact that "Break-a-Neck" is the only song here that would fit snugly on Menace and Prayer, but the bottom line is that Throne of Chaos clearly have no desire in making a particular scene with Loss Angeles. It always comes at a risk, but it is exactly this lack of stylistic inhibition and free-form thinking process that gives this album such a great appeal. As such, it is both ironic and exceptionally sad that the band was forced to disband due to a lack of interest shortly afterward. Throne of Chaos tried to stick it out and drive to the end of their conceptual highway, on flat tires and with a broken windshield no less. Give them credit, because Loss Angeles is a truly engrossing experience.