It is becoming ever more apparent that 2012 has been a remarkable year for music. With brilliant records both on the mainstream front and in the murky world of the underground, we have been inundated with brilliant music over the last few months – so much so that we’ve been hard pressed to cover even the small amount that we have done, and we’re all too aware of how much we missed in the process. This week alone we have seen amazing releases from king Bathmat (glorious progressive music), Le Mur (brilliantly spacey, psychedelic music) and Arkhan (gut-wrenching death metal) and yet, topping them all, is this stunning release from Lilium Sova whose imaginative take on experimental/metal/hardcore music merges the jazz-orientated excursions of Polish act Armia with the sultry, stifling work of Ulver and the progressive-hardcore of Cave In over the course of eight brilliantly eclectic tracks.
Quite literally nothing is wasted on ‘Epic Morning’. From the stunningly designed sleeve art (Christian Nogareda) to the eight tracks which whistle past in a mere fifty-two minutes (which, thanks to the level of innovation, feel like about five minutes), everything here is part of a grander whole, and to appreciate this record you’d best be prepared to open a bottle of your favourite wine, sit back with the lights down low and just let it wash over you because for all the excursions into heavy territories, the overall ambience is as seductive and irresistible as a vampire bite.
Covering the dark hours of the morning when sleep refuses to come and dreams fade into a grey, washed-out reality that is only half registered, each track on ‘epic morning’ covers a one hour slot, starting at 1.00am and ending with the titular moment at 8:00am. The first act, ‘locked in syndrome’, thus opens with a syncopated drum beat propelling a melodic, post-hardcore sound that lurks somewhere between Mogwai’s spacey excursions and Yes. With harsh, grating keyboards swirling out over huge swathes of gruelling bass and complex percussion tearing away at your nerve endings, it is the sort of opening that hooks you within seconds or leaves you utterly repulsed – there is no middle ground for mere disinterest here and as the soundtrack to your nightmares becomes increasingly agitated it takes on a violent Dillinger Escape Plan-toned hue that rapidly invites a sweaty panic to set in. The next track, ‘insomnia’, capitalises upon the unease instilled by the first piece, Michael Borcard’s sensual saxophone somehow riddled with paranoia and guilt as if he’s drawing upon the taut lust of Twin Peaks and the sexual depravity of Blue velvet as his inspiration. It is only on ‘call of Sova’ that guitars make their appearance, and even then they are very much subservient to the throbbing, pulsating bass that permeates the album. Utterly demented, the music increasingly reaches into places you’d rather it didn’t go leaving you unsettled and with a fair idea of the results of a random collaboration between Mike Patton and Miles Davis.
However if the gut-wrenching, free-form noise excursions are unsettling, then when all goes quiet the result is frankly terrifying. Fourth track, ‘parasomnia’ ties a lengthy bass drone to the echoing, sinewy saxophone for a piece that recalls the slithery sickness of Axis of Perdition’s masterpiece ‘Urfe’ as it slowly builds to a frantic, sweaty climax that is every bit as harrowing as a long, drawn-out night spent watching the walls slowly melt as your exhausted brain fails to dinstinguish further between reality and fantasy. ‘Premonition’, despite being considerably heavier, actually comes as something of a relief as the thunderous bass churns out slabs of bowel-churning noise before rapidly segueing into the wide-eyed horror of ‘ondine’s curse’, a track that utilises horror movie sounds and thick slabs of bass to rain down horror upon the listener until the visceral release of ‘dawn of sweet villain’ arrives in a sweltering furnace blast of hardcore vocals (the only track to feature any), seething guitar and cacophonous percussion. It’s an awesomely heavy track that also happens to be the most conventional and accessible work here, but when taken as part of the whole epic journey it is elevated to a whole new level. The final piece, ‘epic morning’ begins as a beautiful work of mesmerising post-rock that sees the sun rise over a jazzy, elastic bass line that sees the bright new morning wash away the terrors of the night as completely as if they’d never existed before the clouds roll in again and the band take you on a journey that, over the course of 22 minutes, delivers a blistering piece of music that, on its own, contains as many ideas as most bands cram into an entire album.
‘Epic Morning’ is a haunting, majestic work that draws upon a wide variety of genres to deliver an experience that will be utterly familiar to anyone who has ever sat through those dreaded hours praying for sleep. Here you will find tension, dread, fear and release, all delivered by a core group of musicians whose talents and innovative approaches to song-writing are laid bare for all to see. This is the perfect soundtrack to the night, and an essential treat for fans of music, regardless of genre. Taut, brilliant and nerve-shreddingly intense this is art-rock as it should be: experimental, bold and peerless. A late addition to the albums of the year – treasure Lilium Sova for they are truly unique.
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