Oresteia, by Lotus Thief
Suggested by Luke Kay
I really wanted to like this
But I didn’t.
Lotus Thief are an Experimental Black Metal outfit from San Francisco, and two of those three descriptors set my teeth on edge. However, since the Spotify Wrapped information has been made public, I’m looking for more left-field stuff to beef up my musical resumé. Black Metal leaves me cold, and Experimental stuff is such a mixed bag, but maybe the two together will create something worthy of applause.
It starts of well, to be honest. The eight minute long Agamemnon, which will eventually prove to be my standout song, is a layered and atmospheric offering that’s more doom than black, more graveyard than gravel. Every aspect of the track sounds almost other-worldly, beyond the veil, as if the protagonists aren’t quite in full focus. There’s something choral about the vocals too, the female singer delivering on every available metric. Unfortunately, one those metrics is a growl of almost biblical proportions, but it’s so buried in the atmospheric mix that it actually works.
This juxtapose of harsh and smooth female vocals, when coupled with the gothic drama of the melodic sections and the sludgy rhythms of the heavier parts, is all rather pleasing, like a post-apocalyptic version of Shakespeare’s Sister. At the end of the eight minutes, I was surprisingly behind this quirky and surprising outfit, looking forward to the next track.
The second song, Banishment, is two-plus minutes of swirling white noise and muted strings.
I mean, what?
Through those two long minutes, I was sat on edge, waiting for a switch-up, a kick-in, a jump-start. Waiting for anything. What I got was the band’s arson attack on any goodwill that was accrued by the charming opener.
It becomes a patter in the album, this overblow and lengthy song followed by a shorter and more avant-garde affair. Frankly, this whiplash is irritating, as while songs like Libation Bearers build from an almost pop beginning to a heavier and exultant song, the interim tracks like Reverence do little other than cool down a heated opinion to the point where it’s frosted over and prone to being shattered.
After consuming each track, I can conclude that while it’s a beautiful sound overall, and while it offers up emotion and intensity of feeling throughout, it’s also incredibly self-indulgent in places. The parts I liked, I liked large, but the parts I hated still outweighed it all. Oresteia gets 4/10 from me, standing as it does between the stools of too different and too boring, and in good need of an editor’s pen to shave the edges away.