Loch Vostok – Opus Ferox II -Mark of the Beast (ViciSolum Productions)

Monday, 15th April 2024
Rating: 9 / 10

Ambitious in execution, Swedish progressive metal act Loch Vostok continues the Opus Ferox trilogy that started in 2021 with the stellar Opus Ferox – The Great Escape record, issuing the sequel Opus Ferox II – Mark of the Beast. What’s always been intoxicating about the quintet is their innate ability to construct a modern angle to their attack while incorporating left field or extreme influences that sound natural to the dynamic songs offered. The multi-pronged sonic landscape on display allows these ten tracks to challenge listeners, absorb the material in a palatable manner so as to not receive ear fatigue – and yet dig deeper into the intricate details or progressive interplay these musicians continually execute to the highest degree.

Exquisite passages of aural bliss sit side by side through thrusts of volcanic salvos. Check out the propulsive “Senses” which contains seven-minutes plus of jagged interaction between some fluid modern groove to thrash squeals, semi-djent / progressive stairstep sequences, and a calmer 8-bit keyboard / computerized vocal angle that cements the ‘kitchen sink wins’ approach. Aspects of 80s synth pop/new wave come across in heavy doses next to the crunchy guitars, carrying “Just Like That” into a second half highlight, Jonas Radehorn showcasing a theatrical nature to his melody choices that make ears perk up. Scandinavian black metal thoughts run through the jackhammer riffing in the opening chord constructs of “Ancient Body Switching Ritual” before once again the progressive twists take hold, aspects of King Diamond to Symphony X or King’s X molding in this treasure trove tenacity that moves people physically, emotionally, intellectually. Another point in the band’s favor is the avoidance of specific intro or interlude pieces that could extend the proceedings. First track “Distant Assistance” unleashes a progressive guitar, bass, and drum barrage not unlike Meshuggah meets Fear Factory/ Strapping Young Lad before the rollercoaster unfurls, 48 minutes or so later intense in its density as well as quality, thoughtful pace and tempo / mood variety.

A sequel should always be able to take the strongest elements of its original presentation to amplify those aspects further. That’s what Loch Vostok sought to achieve – and have – through Opus Ferox II – Mark of the Beast. Where will they go on the finale? Anticipation is high that they’ll go for broke in the details to execute another blockbuster modern progressive metal product.

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