Loch Vostok – Strife (ViciSolum Productions)

Monday, 27th November 2017
Rating: 8/10

Always a band intent on challenging the listener instead of simply following one formula and sticking to it, Loch Vostok return for their seventh outing with Strife. Their last release, From These Waters, had some clear potential to it, but was bogged down by some clean vocals that just didn’t quite hit the mark. Consider that problem remedied with Strife, the band’s strongest release to date.

If anything, Loch Vostok shows even more ambition than before with Strife, although it comes across as much more focused and precise. Everything from cyber metal to djent riffing to progressive to black and death metal get their turn at the forefront (even a little pop if we get technical), yet the way that it’s built together feels seamless and thoroughly enjoyable. From the heavy and brutal end of “Yurei” to the serene closing of “Expiry Date of the Soul of Man,” you will be kept guessing for a bit (in a good way). The clean vocals have turned into one of the band’s strongest points – just check out the super-melodic “Forever” and witness for yourself. Some genuinely emotive stuff when the mood calls for it, but also able to swing with the djent and proggy sections (“Purpose”) just as well. It’s the last piece this band really needed in order to launch into the stratosphere, and they’ve nailed it here.

Strife hits all of the right components to satisfy the modern metal or progressive fan. While it’s a little bit of everything, it never feels like the band is simply throwing it together and seeing what will stick. Instead, strong musicianship and songwriting allows for a smooth listen that takes the best elements of what influence it pulls from. Some of it may feel familiar at times, but Loch Vostok does enough of their own styles in wrapping it up all together that it’s very hard to find fault with it. A solid year-end addition to your collection.

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