Lycus – Chasms (Relapse)

Monday, 25th January 2016
Rating: 8/10

Masters of puns DR is not. When Lycus’s 2013 Tempest album was released and subsequently reviewed, we pondered if the band had used the “Lycus on Facebook” line for laughs. Cue tumbleweeds. This Oakland, CA-based doom-beyond-doom outfit was certainly not fitting of such an attempt at comedy, regardless of how their name rolls off the tongue. And while we’re not quite sure if the band has a sense of humor (they probably do – most metal bands are properly equipped as such), the key driver in at least this instance is that Lycus have vaulted on up to Relapse for the release of their second full-length, Chasms.

Four pretty suffocating tunes here, each of which is of the “block the sunlight, down the hatch” variety, as in, lots of bleak, desolate chord movements, unearthly bellows, and slow-mo arrangements. The whole thing is designed to slowly writhe and churn, which is exactly how various portions of opener “Solar Chambers” and the winding title track come across. “Chasms,” in particular, is built upon a rapidly-building guitar line thrust in the back, all the while a slow-churned beat bear-hugs the meter. Suffocating indeed. And the band’s deft use of space and dynamics (hereby represented on said title track and the even-slower “Obsidian Eyes”) parlays the sort of massive, windy sludge doom that only a select few can purvey properly.

Obviously, Chasms on a fundamental level will instantly rank with the bearded denizens of American doom, right in the YOB and perhaps even Pallbearer crosshairs. But come to think of it, Lycus are far more ugly (in sound, not in actual looks) than those two, which gives the band a distinct edge. And really, some of this stuff sinks really ‘friggin low. Come meet Lycus at the bottom.

Lycus on Bandcamp