Lo Egin – Volumancer

Posted: 8 April 2023 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Panurus Productions – 5th May 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

What is this? Sludge-jazz? Avant-doom? It’s certainly not quite like anything else you’ve ever heard.

The Leeds act – who despite several years of hard-gigging to refine and hone their sound, I’ve not previously encountered – describe their debit long-player as ‘a modern doom tome in which thrashings of drums, bass and guitar find kindred spirits in larynx-shredding vocals and lamenting horn arrangements, delivered on trombone and saxophone.’

It’s the lamenting horn (I often find myself lamenting my horn, too) and grainy guitars that greet the listener at the opening of the album, the first crushing bars of ‘Accursed Land’ offering a strange sonic experience – strange because it’s neither one thing nor the other. And when it drops down to just bass, the rasping vocals are the sound of purgatorial torture. The bone-dry vocal chords sound like sandpaper in a desert, before the instruments return to conjure some sort of doom rendition of a Hovis advertisement. It’s circa 2004 post-rock with the most pungent metal overdrive, the track’s explosive finale a punishing experience, like a Satanic I Like Trains or Her Name is Calla as dragged through the flaming bowels of hell.

The riffery steps up several notches on the heavy grind of ‘Arise’, but it’s the manic brass that really messes with your ears and your head. Brass isn’t a new feature in metal: These Monsters, another Leeds act from back in the day who pitched noise and psychedelia with mental sax are obvious precursors and possible influences, but Lo Egin scribble all over the template and make everything louder, gnarlier, messier. And yes, Volumancer is seriously fucking messy, mangling everything together all at once ins a genre-crunching morass of disparate elements which coalesce to create something utterly mind-warping.

Half the time, you find you’re utterly revved and raving, marvelling at the ingenuity and the enormous weight of Volumancer; the other half you’re baffled and bewildered , wondering how much you’re actually enjoying this while feeling dazed after the relentless punches the album lands. The album’s centrepiece is the ten-minute ‘The Things His Highness Overlooked’ and it’s a magnificently mellow slow-drone jazz piece which borders on a chamber-orchestra arrangement, where layers of brass overlap one another, until about three minutes in when the guitars and drums crash in and it scales the heights of epic while bringing crushing weight.

This album may only contain five tracks (six if you get the cassette version with a bonus cut), but it has a running time of nearly forty minutes, and it’s a beast.

Brutal, ugly, yet beautiful and glorious, Volumancer is something else. What that something is, I have no idea.



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