Review: Loviatar – Lightless

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Unintentionally providing a soundtrack to the 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic.

I will admit that I have never been one for doom metal. Sure, there are exceptions, like last year’s spectacular Fvneral Fvkk record, Carnal Confessions, but generally I tend to get bored with the genre fast. So naturally, when a promo copy of Loviatar’s second full-length found its way into my inbox, I was a bit apprehensive. Nevertheless, I gave it a spin and my worries were completely unfounded as Lightless had me enraptured by the first track.

Loviatar are a quartet  formedin Ottawa, Canada, in 2010, playing doomy post-metal (or is it posty doom metal? I’m not sure), which for some people might already be a red flag, but bear with me here, because these folks certainly are masters at their craft, even though Lightless is only their sophomore record. They created a rather specific record that fits the genre frameworks, but remains entirely accessible, even for non-fans of the respective genres. Sprinkle in a bit of gothic influence and you have a sound that certainly is unique, but will still feel sort of familiar to genre fans.

If I had to choose one word to describe this album, it would be melancholic. That is a doom metal staple, but Loviatar manages to convey this feeling without droning on and on; instead, they augment it with a sense of discovery, an atmosphere of departure and finality. The galloping drum patterns and climbing riffs of “Cave In” really drive this forward.

Speaking of riffs, this record is full of them. Almost every track has some kind of memorable melody, which, even though they sometimes feel ornamental in the grand picture, drills into your subconscious and doesn’t easily leave. I say ornamental because the instrumentation almost glues together to create a singular construct of instruments perfectly working in tandem, flowing together. Generally, instrumentation is where this record really shines. The vocals are fine and do the job, but they’re also not very dynamic.

Loviatar took three years to work on their sophomore album, a task which many bands already failed at, and I’m glad to say that it was time well spent. They crafted a great record, which makes doom metal palatable even for me. It doesn’t drone on, it isn’t too long. It is heartfelt and sad, conveying claustrophobic hopelessness and existential dread, all converging in the title track at the end of this journey of a record. This track in particular is already one of my favorites of 2020, just as the whole record is. Even if you don’t want to listen to the whole record, please at least listen to that track. It is a masterpiece. The only thing I have to criticize are the vocals. They fit, don’t get me wrong, but I wish they were a bit more diversely applied.

4.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Lightless will release on April 3, 2020 on Prosthetic Records. You can get a copy on Bandcamp.

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