The beautiful and the bleak - A review of Loviatar's "Loviatar"
After four independently released EPs, Ottawa's doom and post metal quartet Loviatar finally signed with a record label and released its first self-titled full length effort. At first, I was surprised that this release only included four tracks but a look at the track lengths makes it obvious that Loviatar is already reaching for the stars here. The album consists of a trilogy with a total running time of eighteen minutes and a fourth and last song with a length above nineteen minutes. While I like the final result, I don't think chosing complex, epic and long songs like these for a first full length record is a clever idea. The band had shown that it was perfect at writing atmospherically dense yet musically diversified tracks around five minutes in the past and changing that winning formula is a risky challenge. Those who aren't familiar with the band might refuse to spend twenty minutes on a new band just to listen through one song or a trilogy in three segments. Even as someone who has followed the band since its early years, I must admit that the closing "Blind Goddess of the Nine Plagues" slightly overstays its welcome and needs numerous spins to open up. Atmospherically, the song is excellent and the song writing is very good but some segments are somewhat repetitive or going nowhere to be honest. The band was maybe a little bit overambitious here.
I must say that I prefer the opening trilogy over the closing epic because each track is distinctive and represents another strength of this phenomenal band. "Nascent" is a dreamy, hypnotizing and slow post-metal song that builds up a mysterious atmosphere somewhere between sinister and soaring right from the start. Smooth melodic guitar riffs meet softly humming bass sounds, almost tribal-inspired drums and slightly distorted and nasale vocals with a charismatic and unique flow and sound. This track shows that Loviatar is one of the most atmospheric bands around, even in the very atmospheric genres it performs. "Discordant" is much faster, gloomier and heavier and takes no prisoner without losing the gloomy vibe from the first segment. The rhythm scetion is much more active and the guitar riffs and solos seem to come from a space rock band of the early seventies like Hawkwind. Loviatar manages to get to the point within three and a half minutes in this song and I wish the band had put more tracks of this excellent caliber on its debut record. "Ascent" basically connects the styles of the first two tracks and meanders between smooth passages and thunderous parts in a very fluid way. The guitar varies between discordant and noisy sounds on one side and clear and melodic parts on the other. The organic production underlines both styles perfectly and manages to create a perfect fusion of the beautiful and the bleak. The disconnected dissonant instrumental Coda that emerges like an Easter Egg recalls contemporary Solstafir and would fit on the soundtrack of any mysterious horror movie.
Loviatar is one of the most gifted doom and post metal bands of this decade and the band's long-awaited first full length album underlines the group's very own style, stunning potential and distinguished atmosphere. While the record isn't perfect, the opening trilogy summarizes everything Loviatar is about in an enchanting manner and with a brilliant production. If you haven't heard of Ottawa's underground heroes yet, do yourself a favor and check them out right away.
Final rating: 85%
Please support the band and listen to or purchase the record here: https://loviatar.bandcamp.com/album/loviatar
PS: If you are in Ottawa tonight, you know where you should go: https://www.facebook.com/events/1883803851887326/
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