By Justin C. Lotus Thief, perhaps the sole band working in their self-described genre of "text metal," is back with their second full-length, Gramarye. Born from the partnership of Bezaelith and Otrebor, the man behind Botanist, their first full length, Rervm, gave musical form to an epic poem written by Titus Lucretius Carus during the time of the Roman Empire.By Justin C.
Lotus Thief, perhaps the sole band working in their self-described genre of "text metal," is back with their second full-length, Gramarye. Born from the partnership of Bezaelith and Otrebor, the man behind Botanist, their first full length, Rervm, gave musical form to an epic poem written by Titus Lucretius Carus during the time of the Roman Empire. For the recording of this album, they've added a third member, Iva Toric, who adds synths and another lovely voice joining with Bezaelith's own.** They've also expanded their subject matter--instead of one author, this album covers a veritable library of magic- and belief-based texts, including Homer's Odyssey, the Egyptian funerary text the Book of the Dead, and Aleister Crowley's occult work, The Book of Lies.
I've seen quite a few genre tags attached to Lotus Thief, including space rock, ambient, doom, drone, black metal, post-rock, psychedelic, and more. I looked back to my review of their first album, and I realized I cleverly avoided getting too nitpicky about genres. I'd advise you to do the same, because a full subgenre dissection offers little in the way of insight. At their core, Lotus Thief plays damn good metal, maybe leaning more toward art rock than anything else. There are hints of everything I listed, but everything has been blended so well that you'll never find the seams that join them.
What they continue to do brilliantly with that basic sound is add different touches and textures to match their subject matter without pulling too far away from their core sound. Circe is a goddess from The Odyssey who was fond of turning her enemies into livestock, a fate Odysseus managed to avoid. The chugging riffs and heroic guitar soloing that appear in the song itself puts a vivid image in my mind of Odysseus's galley beating through the waves toward home. "The Book of Lies" has just enough eerie atmosphere built in to conjure Crowley's occultism without going over the top, and the doomy opening riff, which the band revisits as the song progresses, is the perfect topper.
And through it all, there's Bezaelith's siren voice. She has very little competition when it comes to this, and if the music itself is at times cerebral, her singing is the beating heart that keeps the whole thing grounded and compelling. Favorite moments? It's hard to say where to start, but go to around the 4:30 mark in "Salem" and listen to this pure, elevating beauty. Listen to it several dozen times in a row, maybe. (I'm not saying I did that. I'm also not not saying I did that). As good as the entirety of the album is, the emotional crescendo that builds through "Salem" and album closer "Idisi" should provide at least 200% of your recommended daily allowance of feels. I said it in the review of Rervm, and I'll say it again here: If these vocals don't melt your heart, I don't know what to do with you.
We've had a good year of book-ish metal. Gorguts gave us a 33-minute tour of The House of Wisdom, and now Lotus Thief takes us from the library and back into the books themselves. But as unique as the subject matter may be, Lotus Thief continues to build an incredible sound rich enough to match.
**Lotus Thief underwent some personnel changes since the recording of Gramarye, and at the time of this writing, they are performing as a quintet.