Lauxnos, a Russian post-metal act, have just three releases to their name to date – the ‘horizon’ EP and ‘My dead ocean’ full-length (the latter of which is reviewed here) and a more recent EP, entitled ‘winds of hope’. They are not the easiest of bands to track down, with ‘my dead ocean’ receiving a limited release of just 1000 CDs, but, in some ways, it’s pleasant to hark back to the pre-internet ubiquity of music when music fans used to actually have to work in order to find releases by bands that they loved (or wanted to hear). Formed in 2013, the band have certainly been prolific to release so much music in such a short space of time, but if they have been prolific, the quality certainly hasn’t suffered because ‘My dead ocean’ is an impressively mysterious piece of music that is more than fit to rub shoulders with the likes of Dead Sparrowes, Pelican and Isis.
Divided into five separate movements (with the three tracks from the ‘Horizon’ EP tacked on the end for good measure), the album opens with ‘my dead ocean part one’ and seeks to slowly introduce the listener into the world of Lauxnos. With lyrics in the native Russian, the sense of mystery is only deepened for those unfamiliar with the language, but the lyricism of the lexicon perfectly fits the ebb and flow of the music and it is to no disadvantage of the music that it is sung in a language other than English. With rippling guitar, somnolent percussion and gentle bass evoking an air of forlorn desolation, it is clear that Katharos (the sole member of Lauxnos) is more interested in building a suitably dreamy atmosphere than raging against the dying of the light in the vein of Neurosis, and his sense of restraint helps to build an eerie, inclusive atmosphere that weaves a web around the listener. The mood is shattered into a thousand pieces, however, when part two announces its presence on the back of a grinding riff and the listener is plunged headlong into a seething maelstrom of blackened vocals and arcing guitar riffs that recall the primitive assault of Winterfylleth. It’s a stunning change of pace that leaves the listener shaken and it takes the short part three with its mogwai-esque guitars and brisk pace to provide an appropriate segue into the epic ‘part four’.
At nine minutes and twelve minutes respectively, the final two parts of the record are both examples of Katharos taking the time to fully explore the realm of post-metal. Part four strips away the blazing guitars seen on parts two and three and delves deep into the echoing ambience of part one. Here you’ll find undulating rhythm guitar and rippling lead work heavily laden with reverb. The track builds over a repetitive central melody, getting louder and more insistent until it finally breaks upon the shore of part five, another track which features vocals. Quiet and awash with emotion, it sees Katharos intoning the lyrics over a stately track that glimmers with the grey light of dawn, echoing the early work of the cure before exploding into fiery black metal, Katheros’ guttural growl hanging taut over white hot guitar lines that burn and scold as they twist the early melody into unrecognisable shapes. It is a fine end to the piece and, in some senses, it is a shame that the disc is completed with the EP tracks, as fine as they are, because it really should be allowed a disc of its own.
The EP tracks show similar ambition (and length) to the album, with a similar mix of post-rock grandeur and black metal steel, but the recording is rougher, the guitars hotter and more virulent, particularly on ‘Horizon’, the EP’s opening track. A lengthy piece of work, it takes less time to build and it is clear that Katharos refined his technique, before embarking upon the more ambitious ‘My dead ocean’ suite, with this EP. It’s still an impressive track, however, and the transition from blazing metal to rippling beauty is handled with aplomb. ‘Seagull’, as befits its name, is a gentler piece with twin leads laid over rippling ambient chords. The lead is arguably too high in the mix, however, and the balance of the piece is less deftly arranged than on the album pieces. It is arguably the weakest track here and the heavy passages feel less organic to the piece than elsewhere. It is a reminder, once more, that the EP served to demonstrate the potential of Lauxnos whereas the album saw that potential realised. The final track, ‘waves of my soul’ is a doomier affair with huge, crashing chords assailing the listener from the off. It is a fitting close to the EP, and as the track progresses there are some stunning moments as Katheros’ blackened vocals give way to some scintillating guitar work.
Overall ‘My dead ocean’ is an impressive work. Whilst Lauxnos adds little that is new to the post-metal scene, Katheros’ particular take on the genre is deftly done and the suite is nothing if not ambitious. The EP is rather more mixed and whist the potential is undoubtedly there, it is clear that the three tracks served as a means for Katheros to hone his technique. As such it is something of a shame that the tracks were added to the end for, while it is a generous gesture on behalf of label and artist, the purist in me prefers to listen to records unadorned, particularly when a record like ‘my dead ocean’ should be listened to as one complete conceptual piece. However, this really is nit-picking, and if you like post-metal then ‘my dead ocean’ must surely come at the top of your list when you seek out new music. Overall ‘My dead ocean’ is an impressive and ambitious piece of post-metal art that more than deserves your time – you can find out more at https://www.facebook.com/satanath666.