Lions of Tsavo – Traverser (Toxic Assets)Wednesday, 15th January 2014
In the wake of any game-changer, there will be those that ride the waves of influence and echoes, be they malicious or otherwise. In the case of Lions of Tsavo and their newest release Traverser (they don’t share much in common with their namesake), early Mastodon is where we are (think some sort of void between Remission and Leviathan) in regard to sound, if not in execution. The pales of Southern/sludgy guitarwork combined with manic and at times blasty drumming (and of course, there are the vocals) will lead the listener to perhaps many places they can consider familiar, though all is not lost, it’s just not a particularly memorable ride.
Minor opener “Circuitous” has a particularly black metal vibe to it and it wastes no time in getting right to the point with follow-up “Tunnel Giant” and its swinging rhythms and grindy flow. The aforementioned debt to Remission-era Mastodon comes to the fore on tracks “Bestial Heavens” and “Chemotrophs,” though a flavor all their own comes out on early standout “Berlahars.” It’s not even to say that the sound the band utilizes is a particularly bad one to dig from, it’s not like Mastodon themselves stuck with that sound for long before going off into the grand unknown, so if perhaps for that alone this band wins some points.
To its detriment some of the latter-half songs are a bit long in the tooth for the ideas they bring across and though only 52ish minutes in length, the album could’ve perhaps used some trimming as there isn’t enough pull to much of it to keep the ear keen throughout. That being said, however, Traverser is on a whole a fun and worthwhile listen, if only to experience a wealth of ‘what if?’ feels when the familiar moments rear their heads. It should be noted that late-album track “Hibernation” is all kinds of awesome across its many moods and colors. If only there had been more of those moments.