Release DetailsLABEL Metal Blade Records
RELEASED ON 5/3/2005
The Perfect Moment
posted on 4/2005 By:
Before “screamo” became a taboo amongst every self-respecting music fan, before it was banished into the nether realms to face the eternal scorn of stern-faced critics, it was in fact responsible for spawning the stellar, albeit short-lived careers of outfits like Neil Perry, Saetia, Angel Hair and Orchid. Not that the genre doesn’t have its bright lights today - Amanda Woodward, Envy and the incomparable Level Plane label continue to make inroads with their cerebral, emotionally engaging hardcore, a defiant affront against the MTV abominations that have tarnished the genre’s good name. For some befuddling reason, I knew this was going to be a screamo record. Something about the name, the cover, the album title, suggests a very Orchid/Converge aesthetic. Guess what? I wasn’t wrong…not by much, at least. What we have on our hands is a very discordant, meticulously constructed, dynamic take on noisy metallic SCREAMY hardcore, complete with a healthy dose of introspective melody and a heightened sense of songcraft.
To their credit, Losa present a dizzingly eclectic range of influences here, some of the more obvious being Converge, Coalesce, Strapping Young Lad, Mastodon, Orchid and most bizarrely, Tool. Opener “The Beginner” detonates with an EXPLOSIVE kick drum, swelling into a terse, staccato melodic passage that almost approaches earlier As I Lay Dying territory. The track then proceeds to hover over palm-muted, intricate Botch-ish terrain before shifting into a section that is almost lifted wholesale from Tool’s Aenima period, complete with ominous bassline, spacious, psychedelic dynamics and haunting Maynard James Keenan vocals that metamorphose into a demonic shriek when the band concludes the track with gutchurning, spectral harmonics that would make Envy proud. The sense of dynamics and atmospherics on this track are pretty astounding, the band displaying a songwriting finesse that successfully reconciles their disparate influences into one sinewy and thoroughly evocative whole. It’s almost audacious how obvious some of Losa’s influences are, the band cheekily displaying their ability to harness such different sounds into tightly focused explosions of emotional gusto.
Interestingly, continuity appears to be a very important element of the Losa formula - each song shifts seamlessly into the next one, the entire album an immaculately cohered patchwork that somehow manages to flow, uninterrupted by the schizophrenic and scattershot structures of each individual track. To be sure, Losa’s songwriting isn’t always watertight, and some of the more linear moshy moments of the record feel like they were thrown in just to appease the Norma Jean Hot Topic kids, but when it works (which is, to say, much more often than not), the band is absolutely breathtaking - “The Witnesses’ Account” has a distinctly progressive feel to it that briefly recalls Mastodon (though not quite as busy or frenetic), Italy’s The Secret and early Cave In at once. “One Day All Eyes Went Dim”, meanwhile, begins with a melancholic, sprawling passage that absolutely REEKS of later Hypocrisy, all mournful lead guitars and crawling serpentine percussion before escalating into single-note, palm-muted, left field metallic outburst. “From The Ashes Of Infancy” is vintage Mastodon circa the Lifesblood EP, meandering, noodly guitars, insistent basslines and off-kilter rhythms providing a strange template for the violent calamity that ensues. “Church Of Pitted Vipers”, meanwhile, is Losa’s “Jane Doe”, a dark-hearted, anguished exercise in catharsis that begins with a contemplative, brooding sung section before gaining momentum into an EXPLOSIVE cataclysm of pummeling, weeping guitars, excruciatingly deliberate rhythms and tortured screeches.
Two minor gripes - the clean vocals and the drum work. The clean vocals on display here aren’t very strong at all, something that is really accentuated by the sparseness of the Tool-ish passages. On a bare, minimalist sonic canvas of faint guitars and sporadic percussion, the clean vocals fail to assert any kind of presence, a halfhearted mumbled croon that has little emotional resonance. As such, the clean vocals seem awkward and ill-advised - the band clearly has the ability to weave evocative and moody passages into their mercurial numbers, but the vocalist lacks the technical ability to do these passages the justice they deserve. Similarly, while the drumming is extremely competent on this offering, shifting flawlessly between passages and varying tempos, it can often get a little tedious and complacent. I could certainly do with some creative fills and musical flourishes to complement the sterling degree of structural inventiveness here. I guess this is made even more apparent with the Mastodon/American Heritage-ish sections, where the fluid, noodly guitar lines almost beg for a more Brann Dailor approach to percussion. Instead, the drum sound is somewhat drowned in the claustrophobic mix, the drummer providing merely a stock rhythmic skeleton to the sound instead of injecting a deeper musical dimension to the hectic proceedings. A little more nuanced and progressive playing would be more aligned with the musical ambitions showcased on the record.
This is a pretty amazing record from a band that I’ve never heard before. In a just world, Losa will now go on to headline tours and assume their place on the minds and lips of scenesters the world over. Channeling the schizophrenic, herky-jerky mania of Orchid, the meditative, melodic panache of Envy, the dissonant grit of Converge, the crunch of Norma Jean, the nude introspection of Tool, the disorienting prog of Mastodon while referencing bits and pieces of Scandinavia’s foremost heavyweights is a nauseatingly daunting prospect, one which Losa executes with astonishing aplomb. This is a really promising record.
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