Loch Vostok – Strife
Long running swedish extreme progressive metallers Loch Vostok have been around since the turn of the century, even though only the leading guitar tandem of Teddy Möller (also lead vocals) and Niklas Kupper remained from the founding members. Nevertheless, the band just released their seventh full length album, entitled “Strife”. The press release states the obvious and inevitable ‘the strongest Loch Vostok album to date’. After living with it for well over a month though I can’t help but come to the conclusion that “Strife” is indeed an incredibly strong and most of all diverse album, that much I can say, as I am not (yet) familiar with their back catalogue.
Starting off with ‘Babylonian Groove’, Loch Vostok make it very clear from the beginning: genre limitations are for pussies. If old and new school death metal can co-exist, a little black metal, a dash of avantgarde, a healthy dose of slick pop melodies and most of all hellish grooves will fit as well and make the songwriting fresh and exciting. The contrast between the fast and furious forward drive that dominates most of ‘Summer’ and the groovy chorus is nothing short of staggering to say the least. No wonder they chose it as lead single for the album.
‘The Apologists Are the Enablers’ grooves away in a more decent tempo, lyrically picking up the ongoing sociocritical theme and morphing into a crazy black metal part towards the end. With the following ‘Cadence’ Loch Vostok touch Djenty territory and the verse has a certain Leprous vibe to it, but the straight forward chorus can’t quite live up to the rest of the song. The trudging ‘Forever’ has a melancholy air around it, while the following ‘Yurei’ is laying a false trail with a grandiose, epic intro reminiscent of the great Beyond Twilight. Later on, it features the deepest death growls of the whole album (straight outta Moria, or rather the ‘Pits of Utumno’?) as well as a shredding guitar solo. A chameleon of a song. The remainder of the album certainly doesn’t drop in quality, songs like ‘Purpose’ and ‘Ventilate’ just seem to be lacking a little bit the highly memorable hooklines and leads. The shredding guitar solo in ‘Ventilate’ surely stands out though. And so “Strife” comes to an end on a mellower note with the ballad of sorts ‘Expiry Date of the Soul of Man’.
Apart from the excellent and (as mentioned before) varied songwriting prowess Loch Vostok display throughout the whole album, the chops of each and every single member are of the absolute highest caliber as well. The versatile vocals range from deep growls over eerie shrieks and raging shouts all the way to a gutsy, yet decisively thick and melodic clean delivery, reflecting the multifaceted songs perfectly. With mix and mastering being handled by none others than the fantastic Fascination Street Studios duo David Castillo and Jens Bogren, it goes without saying that the sound is top notch as well. Loch Vostok’s “Strife” is an absolute must hear for every lover of extreme progressive metal and rivals with the best releases of that particular prog branch in 2017. It provides a helluva lot food for thought, both musically and lyrically for the attentive listener.
- Babylonian Groove
- The Apologists Are the Enablers
- Expiry Date of The Soul of Man