Saturday, January 18, 2014

…cast your gaze upon the setting sun: LANDSKAP – ‘I’

Landskap’s debut album, ‘I’, has the distinction of being the first 2014 release to be reviewed at Vertical Chamber Apparatus and, to top it off, it’s the first great surprise of the year. The London based band features veterans of the European metal scene from such acts as Serpentcult, Fen, Pantheist, and Dead Existence among others. Despite the wide-ranging influences that each member brings to the band, ‘I’ is truly unlike anything that the individuals were producing before coming together. The four tracks that comprise ‘I’—two of which are instrumentals—cover a wide range of styles without sounding incoherent or disjointed. Classic hard rock and metal, prog, doom, and psychedelia are all represented in equal measure resulting in an exceptional collection of tunes.

The album takes a giant stride with its best foot forward on the opener “A Nameless Fool”. Easily the doomiest track of the album complete with an eerie atmosphere—aided in part by organ and the sporadic tolling of a bell—that’s not too far removed from what The Wounded Kings had created on their phenomenal debut ‘Embrace of the Narrow House’. With a runtime venturing near twelve minutes, “A Nameless Fool” staggers forth at a doomed pace while allowing exploratory, inter-dimensional lead guitar to ebb and flow from a seemingly distant plane for a spectral, otherworldly experience.

“My Cabin in the Woods”, in jarring opposition to the haunting opening track, is a three minute blissful instrumental that brings Chicago post-rock instrumentalists Tortoise to mind. Bright basslines are played high on the fretboard, and notes plucked from the guitar ring out and calmly turn themselves inside-out. It’s soothing, sunny, and trippy.

The third track, “Fallen So Far”, channels the best of Deep Purple and King Crimson and funnels them through a hard rocking, proto-doom filter. Where “A Nameless Fool” was Hell-bent on creating an ominous, doomy atmosphere, “Fallen So Far” instead goes for the throat by rocking out and features stellar performances from each member of the band, particularly on drums. A killer track from start to finish.

“Fallen So Far” eventually melts into the fourth and final track, “To Harvest the Storm”. The twelve minute album-closer is a cerebral, kraut-rock inspired jam that builds in both intensity and layers before ultimately taking off midway through the track. Initially hypnotic, the song rips into a mesmerizing fury with the controls set for the heart of the sunrise.

Landskap’s debut is an incredibly eclectic collection of tunes that remains engaging from beginning to end. Despite the variations in styles and influences the band is able to pull it off effortlessly. With only four tracks and a runtime of just over thirty minutes ‘I’ ends way too soon. Fans of hard rock and doom with an openness to experimentation should definitely check these guys out. Hopefully ‘I’ is a sign of greater things to come. As it stands this is a phenomenal release that is punctuated by great songwriting, killer vocals, and excellent instrumentation.



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