May 25, 2017

Loss - Horizonless

By Nate Garrett. Within mere seconds of opening track “The Joy of All Who Sorrow,” it is apparent that Horizonless is an ambitious expansion upon the crushing, hopeless, and tragically beautiful elements that make Nashville’s Loss such a masterful funeral/death doom band.
By Nate Garrett.

Artwork by Adam Burke.

Within mere seconds of opening track “The Joy of All Who Sorrow,” it is apparent that Horizonless is an ambitious expansion upon the crushing, hopeless, and tragically beautiful elements that make Nashville’s Loss such a masterful funeral/death doom band. In the opening lines, vocalist/guitarist Mike Meacham’s howls are higher in pitch, a technique that exposes a raw and visceral emotional quality. Over the course of the album, Meacham employs these tortured shrieks, as well as several other vocal styles, to great effect. Which is the story of Horizonless in a nutshell… Loss is experimenting with new sounds and exploring new methods of devastating the listener sonically and psychically. The familiar trademarks are still here, such as the ultra-deep death gurgles, unresolved chords disintegrating and swirling across guitar tracks, driving bass lines, and massive drumming. Yet the band isn’t content to rely upon its tried-and-true methods. By the time the opening track climaxes in a chaotic black metal whirlwind, it’s even more obvious that these guys are pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone, and the results are spectacular.

The second track on the album, “I.O.” is the first of four interludes, each being the brainchild of a sole member. This first interlude is courtesy of drummer Jay LeMaire. The sequencing of the album is song, interlude, song, interlude and so on. Meacham’s is track four, bassist John Anderson’s is track six, and guitarist Tim Lewis’s is track eight. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that though Horizonless would hardly suffer without these tracks, they do add to the bleak vibe rather than detract from it, and they help to create an immersive experience. Lewis’s contribution “Banishment” most closely resembles a full-fledged song and is my personal favorite.

“All Grows on Tears” showcases some of my favorite things about this album. First of all, Loss fully utilizes both guitar players. In fact, the guitars are rarely playing the same thing. They slither and intertwine, forming harmonies, dissonance, and broader chords than just one guitarist is capable of producing. Meanwhile, the bass drives the root notes, embellishing only when it’s absolutely necessary and tasteful. In many ways, the string arrangements are more akin to classical music than any sort of rock or blues foundation. This approach could get messy in the hands of a lesser band, but Loss finds a way to never lose sight of the compelling chord progressions, even when the guitars are in the depths of a tonal maelstrom. The bass and drums are consistently locked in, which helps maintain a sense of familiarity. This song concludes with a surprisingly melodic progression that evokes nihilistic triumph in the midst of the omnipresent despair.

Melody is recurring throughout Horizonless, and is used expertly on every song on the album. “Naught” begins with a haunting clean section and by its conclusion reintroduces elements of black metal, mutating into possibly the most anguished track on the album. The title track is a standout, an epic dirge that again finds Meacham employing new vocal techniques. The biggest surprise of the album comes in the form of a clean vocal section. The chant-like, mournful singing accentuates the funereal nature of the music and is one of the most powerful moments of the record.

Album closer “When Death Is All” is as strong a conclusion as one could hope for. The introduction of guest vocalists Stevie Floyd, Wrest, and Billy Anderson (who also produced and engineered) results in an even broader, more vivid sonic pallet. The band drones on amidst a swirl of moans, eventually driving into a more mid-tempo assault featuring vocals that sound as if they’re being produced by an ancient, mummified corpse. To put the nail in the coffin, a single guitar establishes a tragic descending chord progression which the entire band sink into. Loss rides this passage to the bitter end, awash with harmonized vocals that seem to howl from the void, and a heartbreaking guitar lead as sad as anything the band has ever done.

Horizonless, for being as smothering, depressing, and bleak-sounding as it is, evokes a broad spectrum of genuine emotion. It carries the solemn weight of death, yet brims with stunning melody and triumph. Highly recommended.


Nate plays in Spirit Adrift and Gatecreeper.
Tagged with 2017, death metal, funeral doom, Loss, Nate Garrett, Profound Lore Records
1 comment:
  1. Ahh man. Great review! Thanks, Nate. Hope you are well!

    ReplyDelete