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REVIEW: Loathe – “The Cold Sun”

I don’t know how you imagine the future, but novels like The Road and 1984 paint it in strokes that are stark and bleak. The sonic equivalent of this image is Loathe’s new album, The Cold Sun. Dark, bitter and grainy, the UK quintet molds death metal, hardcore, industrial, electronica and progressive tendencies into a dystopian vision of the world to come. Following the characters A and B, Loathe’s 35 minute full-length concept album is rife with darkness and only splinters of light. The Cold Sun will be released worldwide on April 14 through SharpTone Records.

Deathcore does not typically focus on artistry, instead tending to mix the darkness of death metal with the rage of hardcore for the heaviest sound possible. In contrast, Loathe use every minute of The Cold Sun with intention and vision, even when their riffs have enough impact to shatter glass. Opening with the cinematic title track introduction, low-tuned grooves erupt on “It’s Yours”, where punishing riffs are fused with distorted electronic elements to create a sound that seems best described as claustrophobic. A brief reprieve comes with well-delivered clean singing and a melodic, yet far from overbearing chorus. The transition between these sections is choppy, but it is difficult to tell whether or not this disjunction is intentionally used to highlight the contrast of the parts. From the start, it becomes clear that The Cold Sun is much more than your typical deathcore record, for better or for worse.

Built on a meaty deathcore framework, The Cold Sun‘s electronic elements, sparse key sections, singing and robotic, Cynic-esque vocals instill enough variety and depth to the album to merit repeated listens. “Dance on My Skin” features one of the more fast-paced, technical and dissonant moments on the record. The group possesses both capacity and restraint on their instruments, demonstrated in the juxtaposition of intense verses and powerful, melodic choruses on “East of Eden”.

Upon first listen, the record blew me away with its striking riffs and progressive vision. However, its sheer depth can at times be its weakness. As I mentioned before, some transitions feel bulky, and electronic interludes rob the latter part of The Cold Sun of some momentum, namely with the back-to back-tracks “The Omission” and “Nothing More”. Although “Never More” features one of the hardest, heaviest moments of the album, it only lasts for a brief instant before we are swept up in the closing, ballad-esque  “Babylon”. These interludes add a great deal of interest and pacing to the album, but they are lopsidedly distributed towards the record’s end, losing much of the energy amassed in its first part.

Loathe is an incredibly promising band with a unique struggle: they aren’t easily classifiable. They may be too melodic for mainstream deathcore fans, but not technical or ambitious enough for the progressive community. If you wisely dismiss genre classifications, The Cold Sun is an impressive record that pushes heavy music in new directions without sacrificing any elements that make it enjoyable. Furthermore, the production, courtesy of Matt McClellan (Underoath, The Devil Wears Prada, Being as An Ocean) avoids the sterility of most of their peers’ recent efforts in favor of a fittingly gritty, unhinged sound. And even though its transitions and pacing can be clunky and stilted, The Cold Sun’s versatility and commitment to an overarching, apocalyptic storyline make it the freshest and most unique deathcore record I’ve heard in a very long time.

the cold sun

 

Score: 8/10

Notable Tracks: “It’s Yours”; “Dance on My Skin”; “Nothing More”

FFO: From Sorrow to Serenity, early The Contortionist, Humanity’s Last Breath

Follow Loathe on Facebook and check out their website. You can pre-order The Cold Sun here.

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