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Lurk : Lurk

Fans of early, pre-Doom Heavy Metal should be able to empathise with the quality of hooklines and controlled savagery of Lurk's sonic output.

In Michael Shea's homage to Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories, lurks are large, savage and deadly predators. Whether that particular sword-and-sorcery fiction inspired the snaggletoothed monster adorning the cover of the debut album of Finland's Lurk is perhaps moot: it's an excellent image for music that comes howling out of the darkness trailing chaos and bloody slaughter in its wake. "Brute nihilism...downtempo destruction" is how the band put it on their MySpace page - and they're not wrong: it's easy to see why Totalrust Music, with their primary focus on Extreme Doom, wanted to release this.

Cited influences include Autopsy and Celtic Frost, but it's probably more valid to draw actual comparisons with more modern blends of Sludge-meets-Black Doom: somewhere between a distortion-soaked take on labelmates Abysmal Darkening and a briefer, compacted Walk Through Fire. However, that is not to imply Lurk are a copy of any of the above: just to give an idea of the sort of territory in which they dwell. It's a raw place, melding the more savage traits of the subgenres to the deliberate pace of the parent.

Instrumentally, guitar and bass are mixed into a common pool of feedback-edged and aggressive riffing, complementing more often than diverging, backed by excellent drumming that explores all the space available from plain timekeeping through to cymbal flourishes and additional fills. The credits claim that the guitarist also plays synth, which may well be true, just not in a way that's audible on this release. Not that it's needed: the sound is easily massive enough without any additional frills. Especially when the vocals are factored in and, dominant as they are, it would be impossible not to. Pitched in a forceful style that is part-death growl and part-tuneful bellow, and a perfect fit for the relentless sonic assault of the compositions, they stand squarely front and centre of every track.

Opening with 'Soar', one of the two longer tracks gracing the album, 'Lurk' sets its chosen pace of sound and fury immediately. The brief, jagged intro feeds into the first of many bludgeoning, old-school riffs and angry, misanthropic lyrics delivered with such a credible sense of rage that one has to believe the band really do mean it. The first three minutes will leave the listener in no doubt whatsoever whether this is for them. Best not be taken in by the atypically gentle bridge and semi-industrial coda, which show that Lurk are not completely without sublety: those are the exceptions rather than the rule.

'Unfinished', ushered in on knifing feedback, steams along with a swaggering, almost bouncy vibe beneath the twisted, hoarsely shrieking vocals before it merges into the harder, more vitriolic 'Codec of Becoming God', all thrashing riffs before an eventual decay into pure, tortured instrumental noise and guttural conclusion. From there, 'Fire The Blood Sky' starts out guitar-led but lets a cavernous bass and some decidedly blackened shrieks share the honours over the second half of the track.

'Pitch Beneath Eternity' is about as nihilistic as it gets: some of the most splenetic, snarling vocals on the album, over music that varies pace but never loses sight of crushing intensity. Final track 'Deliverance', the second of the 8-minute longer pieces, uses the extra time available to it to expand the sound with an eerie, echoing edge to some of the instrumental work and to experiment with some slick changes of tempo, bringing things to a very satisfactory conclusion.

Returning briefly to an earlier point: although the net sound is a modern one, there are clear influences in the compositions particularly the monster riffing that really do hark back through the likes of Celtic Frost and beyond. Fans of early, pre-Doom Heavy Metal should be able to empathise with the quality of hooklines and controlled savagery of sonic output here. Faults well, there are only two minor things to pick up on: first, that it's a little on the short side for a label release these days and secondly, that it would be nice at times to have a little less vocal dominance and allow the instruments a little more time on their own.

Returning more briefly to an even earlier point - from the very same Dying Earth story, one of the demons threatens: "Im going to lick your face clean off your skull. Slowly, thoroughly, lick it entirely off. Im going to sting you and bind you and scoop your loins hollow and lap out your brains. And then Im going to make you again and start over." That's pretty much what this album does. Go out and buy it.

Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Soar
2. Unfinished
3. Codec Of Becoming God
4. Fire The Blood Sky
5. Pitch Beneath Eternity
6. Deliverance

Duration : Approx. 36 minutes

Visit the Lurk bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-02-27 by Mike Liassides
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