Lychlake – The Tragedy of Doctor Faustus
Lychlake are a Symphonic Extreme Metal band forged deep in the heart of England. That’s how they describe themselves anyway. Their debut album “The Tragedy of Doctor Faustus” leans more to the symphonic side. Not that there’s a lack of the extreme stuff. In fact, the range is vast, from choirs and classical sounding orchestrations to blast beats and raw vocals.
Some of you may not be familiar with Doctor Faustus. I’m assuming that the concept behind this album is based on the Elizabethan play by Christopher Marlowe. Some will perhaps have seen the 1967 movie starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. This musical version is suitably dark and gothic in its retelling of this tale in which Faustus strikes a deal with Lucifer.
‘Bene Disserere Est Finis Logices’ begins what will be a seventy-minute experience. The title of this opening track is Latin for ‘to argue well is the goal of logic’. A mournful start leads to a piece of haunting guitarwork and then comes the first heavier bit. One thing for certain is that Marlowe could never have envisaged his work being portrayed in death metal format. It is of course one of the most suitable genres to accompany this spooky story. Later in a quieter bit, there’s one of several spoken word sections that are dotted around the album.
These spoken verses are the conversations between the main characters. Faustus sells his soul to Lucifer in order to acquire the services of the demon Mephistopheles. Payment of his soul is due 24 years later, during which time he is free to use the demon to his own advantage. ‘Consummatum Est’ (It is finished) sees this agreement transpiring (and signed in blood). The soundtrack to this is ominous, almost funereal at times. As the deal is done, the music becomes more ferocious, but has a catchy hook line running through it towards the end.
It seems a little odd for an album like this to have a single released from it. However, ‘Felicity Bequeathed By The Neck Of Paramour’ has that honour. This track features some superb guitarwork from Harry Tustian and we hear Faustus making his first demands to Mephistopheles. It is one of the calmer tracks on the album but does showcase every element this English trio has to offer.
Sublime choral music brings a complete contrast in ‘Libera Me I’. Whereas its latter half ‘Libera Me II’ is one the heavier tracks on the album.
As we approach the end of the album and story, the penultimate track is co-incidentally ‘Penultimate Patricide’. The sound of a storm leads on to a prolonged salvo of double bass drums. This is perhaps the track that highlights the extreme side of the band. It never really lets up, and there is no clean singing.
Although we are now at the last track, we are nowhere near the end of the album. At an epic 23 minutes the final track bears the title of the album. ‘The Tragedy of Doctor Faustus’ takes us through many musical stages and styles. Despite being faced with the decision to repent, thereby saving his soul, Faustus never actually does. When his time is up, he pleads with the demons to no avail and is dragged off to Hell by them.
It never ceases to amaze me how much excellent undiscovered music and musicians there is out there. To the uninitiated, classical music and metal are miles apart, but in fact they have been happy bedfellows for many decades. Lychlake bring the two styles together perfectly. This album is musically sumptuous, lyrically flamboyant and mischievous, creepy, weird and any other superlatives you care to think of. I will definitely be on the lookout for future work by these guys.
- Bene Disserere Est Finis Logices
- Consummatum Est
- Felicity Bequeathed By The Neck Of Paramour
- Libera Me I
- Libera Me II
- Penultimate Patricide
- The Tragedy Of Doctor Faustus