Lesser Glow - Nullity review

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Band: Lesser Glow
Album: Nullity
Release date: May 2020

01. The Great Imitator
02. Red Ayrag
03. Fostering This Nullity
04. Alone In The Column
05. Versterven
06. I Am The Island
07. The Great Filter
08. Toba

Very few post-metal bands push their sound as far towards sludge as Lesser Glow; however, few post-metal bands manage to use clean vocals as effectively as them either.

The more extreme parts of post-metal acts' sounds are typically based in sludge, and so are they here on Nullity, the sophomore record from Boston's Lesser Glow. But whilst a band such as Isis might shift into periods of greater intensity and harsh roars on their post-Oceanic material, with many copycats following suit, they rarely even approached the primitive force of the nastiest parts of Nullity. Slow, pummelling, contorted displays of primal aggression meet the listener on tracks such as "The Great Imitator" and "Fostering This Nullity", leaving no prisoners. Sometimes these riffs are combined with atmospheric guitar leads to provide tasteful contrast, but often they are just let loose untamed, and their power is matched by the fierce guttural roars. At its darkest (and it is often at its darkest), Nullity is a punishing listen, particularly during the progressively ratcheting savagery of "Alone In The Column", a slow-paced vile dirge that sounds both like drowning in a swamp and being pulverized by a gorilla. However, the directions it takes during its lighter periods are what truly elevate it into a remarkable record.

After the slow trudge of the first minutes of "The Great Imitator", layered, atmospheric clean vocals emerge above the gnarly riffing to give a taste of a key weapon in the Lesser Glow arsenal. Then, the track cuts out almost completely, and Alec Rodriguez smoothly croons over sustained clean guitar, before finally a coalescence of slow, pounding sludge riffs and soaring vocal harmonies displays the type of darkly melodic sound Lesser Glow are capable of conjuring. The non-growled vocals on Nullity aren't always as smooth; there is some gentler singing on "Red Ayrag", but also some more pained shouts. The twisted interplay between these different vocals plays and some increasingly contorted and dissonant guitar work takes this track into a really unique-sounding and disarming direction; for a song that's only 3 minutes long, it manages to take listeners on a complex and multi-faceted journey.

Whilst Nullity can offer brief moments of beauty, even the parts that aren't primal aren't always necessarily pleasant; "Fostering The Nullity" does have muted vocal harmonies at its beginning, but they're placed against dissonant distortion in a manner that feels more like some kind of sick ritualistic procession rather than the kind of 'calm before the storm' breather other loud/soft post-metal bands might aim for. There are patches of genuine calm later in this song, however, as the middle third sees the guitars in more muted territory, with the drums taking up the slack in terms of keeping the song moving. The standout moments of Nullity are those that focus on these cleaner moments, if nothing else than because how much they distinguish them from a large majority of the other bands playing sludge this oppressive. Still, their brand of gruelling sludge is top-tier, so even those songs that eschew the softer moments can shine; "Versterven" in particular offers a tour de force by the drums, and good guitar work in both the lower and higher registers.

My review of OHHMS's most recent record highlighted the role that that group's use of clean vocals against a sludge/post-metal backdrop gave the music a distinctive feel, and the same is the case here. According to the album's Bandcamp page, the lyrics delve into the concept of humans as a parasite on planet Earth, and the combination of brutality, eerie melody and dissonance really helps to create a sense of insidious decay and destruction.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 8


Written on 18.07.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 2   Visited by: 32 users
19.07.2020 - 08:50
I though black metal bands had the monopoly on cover arts having simply woods
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.

2020 goodies
19.07.2020 - 18:11
Au Pays Natal
I tried this when it first came out and immediately deleted it from my hard drive. I will give it another spin. Excellent review and thanks.

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