Here's the crazy thing. The first play through of this album took me to this place that felt like a slow walk down the halls of an old abandoned insane asylum, peering into each room, seeing flashes of the unsettling things that happened there. I was awash in a bottomless dark grey throughout the album that was equal parts scary as hell and meditative. It was like those few darkest moments before dawn. All I had done at that point was read the track listing on https://lyingfigures.bandcamp.com/album/the-abstract-escape
After the first listen, I visited http://lyingfiguresband.com/, and guess what....I found band photos taken in what looked like an old abandoned medical facility. Ha! Cool! Called that one correctly.
If you've read my commentary/reviews before, you know I like to do a "blind" play through, with nothing more than a track list, assuming it's a band I'm not acquainted with as of yet. Afterwards, I'll listen again having seen videos, band photos, lyrics, etc. If I like an album, obviously it goes in regular rotation....sort of like this one has.......
"The Abstract Escape" by Lying Figures, released May 7 via Rain Without End Records
Let's get to the good part. Shall we? I thought you would agree.
Oh. My. God. Riffs. The musicianship on this album impressed the hell out of me. Their style is in a world of its own, a supremely well constructed combination of influences from doom, death, black, and post metal, with a dash of post rock. I usually hesitate to compare bands, but for the sake of giving the unacquainted an idea of the sound, think of it this way. Take the big, arena filling sound of Gojira, combine it with the ultra tight guitars of the Devin Townsend Project, and cover it in the most gloriously melancholic doom riff you can find, and you have a reasonable approximation of their sound. Seriously though, just buy the album and see for yourself. Its uniqueness is a worthy addition to any collection.
Also vocals.....yes sir! There are relatively few vocalists who can legitimately give me the heebie jeebies with a gutteral utterance. Thibault does exactly that. His singing style, clean and growls, crawls right up your spine and swirls at the base of your brain. He has the kind of vocals that you would expect to hear echoing up from the deepest levels of that asylum I mentioned earlier, summoning the ghosts of psychiatric atrocities long since passed.
Track 1) Hospital of 1000 Deaths.....It's really easy for me to put a visual to this. The camera skims the ground as you ascend a long concrete stairway to the doors of a massive facade with black windows. Is it a prison, an asylum, or perhaps a simple office building housing the people and the rules that keep you broken and aimless, dosing out guilt and sentencing you for simply being human? Perhaps all three. Sometimes life is one great big insane asylum. I love the transitions from slow and sinister to heavy to an eerie calm with spine tingling clean vocals. It's a song well placed in the track list. It lets you know what you're in for and leaves you with an oppressive sense of waiting for what hides around the corner.
Track 2) Tormented Souls.....The guitar tone sits like a weight on your chest, preventing you from taking that breath of freedom. It's that deep dark grey you see just before you lose consciousness, and it is absolutely gorgeous. This song to me is like wandering down that dark and terrifying asylum hallway and catching a glimpse of someone beyond help, hiding in the shadows, straight jacket bound, with no future but death.
Track 3) Monologue of a Sick Brain.....I'm sort of in love with the death metal vocals laid over an exceptionally doomy riff. Lying Figures style is on a grand display in this track. I'd say it's my favorite example of the blend of styles incorporated into the album. If you ever need validation that dark and melancholy can occupy the same space as groovy, here is where you need to be.
Track 4) The Mirror....."your rational mind blinds your perceptions of the unreal" Having worked in mental health, I can attest to the accuracy of that statement, but I digress.....I love the seamless transition from clean vocals to growls and back. I also love the poetic melancholy and how meditative it can be in its darkness.
Track 5) There Was a Hole Here, It's Gone Now.....I got a Metallica-esque vibe from this one.....well, except for the drums....Charles is much better than Lars. Top notch musicianship on display again.
Track 6) My Special Place.....Oh. My. God. Those guitars are tight! Here is a great example of how big a sound this band can produce. The riff is phenomenal and visually evocative. It can take you on a trip through the mind of a person considered insane, bombarding you with sound from all angles and no indication of when it will stop. It quickly became sensory overload of the best kind for me.
Track 7) Remove the Black.....Throughout this entire song, I felt like I was a condemned patient desperate to escape from the people that wanted to cure me of something I was labeled with, but didn't actually have. It felt like a constant push to find an exit from the demons around me and the ones in my head. I really need to find the lyrics for this song.......
Track 8) Zero.....Equally as well placed as track one, this song is as visually evocative as the rest of the album. It cements their style of melodic doom death metal with shades of post metal and rock, though with this much talent at work, I suspect their credentials were firmly in place before the debut was released. "Zero" feels like the aftermath of a terrifying experience, scarring in its content, but soothing in its release. It's like that first breath of survival one takes after fighting back the water that would pull you under.
I cannot help but say again just how tight their sound is on "The Abstract Escape". This is a band that should, as they say, "go places". I love how the music makes me feel like I am waist deep in gloomy dark grey clouds, fearful of what is hidden in the fog, but comforted by the sensory deprivation. This is a huge, venue filling sound that deserves much more attention. Want to know how to give them that attention? Here's the link again:
You know you want to.