This is a six piece that needs listening to. Hailing from Australia, Lycanthia have been producing music since 1996 making them both an enigma and a standout for the Australian metal scene, especially in the gothic doom genre. It wasn’t enough for the band to release a single stellar record; instead they did it again and again. It could be argued that this style of music has been done before, but never in such a convincing and all-consuming manner. Oligarchy stands as a testament to the group’s hard work highlighting the prowess of all six members. From the album’s inception one thing becomes instantly clear – this isn’t a pop filled Evanescence record, it’s an expansive, melancholic masterpiece that reflects the thoughtful and reflective motifs of the band’s music. The album is monolithic and a lot to be taken in. On a first listen it’s easy to become overwhelmed as each soundscape rolls onto the next, never clashing and maintaining the album’s overall flow. Yes, you could be forgiven for missing subtle sections, hidden underneath layers of melodically presented melancholy but when listened to again and again those hidden sections become clearer and clearer filling this vast record with the making of something unique.
Comparisons will be made to the hay day of traditional themed gothic doom records (Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Theatre Of Tragedy and Draconian to mention a few) but this six piece pushes forward in the shape of their triple vocal movements. That’s right, not one, not two, but three vocalists all permeate the spot light of the record re-affirming that there is a lot going on. The dual female vocals of Vanessa Black and Megan Tassaker are obvious standouts. Their soprano leads float well above the music often stretching into vocal aerobatics bouncing and interlinking off each other combining in the best possible manner, it’s certainly a treat to listen to these excellent vocalists dance throughout the album. The vocals croon, vibrate and bring the instrumental aspect of the album together. Oligarchy would not be the same without this well-presented female section. On the other hand, founding bassist and screaming vocalist Lee Tassaker is another strong aspect which contrasts with the warm soprano, in turn providing that darker sinister theme to the album as a whole.
Even with all that talent being pushed centre stage, there’s still something to find in each instrumental aspect. Take a moment to turn the volume up, listen to the slap of that bass kick, those fills that swing from one side of the drum kit, back and then all around. Hera just how each section is forceful and not an overbearing display of technical wanker-y. Every instrument knows its place and the reflection is shown throughout the group’s music. The guitar hold pace, but they don’t stand out until you pay attention, the melodic input is strong transcending the typical stereotypes for this particular style of music, simply far from a boring display. Even the bass makes an appearance instead of being lost in the mixing process and once you’ve wrapped your head around all these different layers, there’s no way to forget the warm highs found in the violin. Oligarchy isn’t an album to be treated lightly.
The album’s eight tracks clock in at just over fifty minutes, ensuring that the attention of the listener is never lost. But in retrospect the record never feels short or samey. Lycanthia have crafted an excellent release that should (and already is), overshadow releases from this year. Oligarchy makes for a reflective, if somewhat sinister listen. It reverberates with listeners on both a primal level and a cerebral, thought invoking level. It’s not enough for a band to something ‘just’ right anymore, they need to do better, explore different sounds and reach out to different people. In 2013, Lycanthia have indeed done that and Oligarchy is a record that will appeal to a wider musical community than previously thought. Australia has a deeper musical talent, you just didn’t know about it.
1.The Essential Components Of Misery
4.Ablaze The Wheel Turns
5.Despondency In Crescendo
6.Time Feeds This Wound
7.Hair Of The Beast
8.From Ancestral Lands