Tuesday 8 November 2022

Lovecraft - Can Abyss (2022)

Country: Poland
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 1 Sep 2022
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Here's something tasty and unexpected. Lovecraft are a psychedelic rock band from Poland, not a power trio but a five piece who keep their identities secret, or at least so unpublicised that I couldn't track down who's in the line-up. Their Bandcamp page suggests that their influences are "way too many to mention" and they're probably right, tantalisingly adding that "we're still expanding our infinite musical journey."

The first of those influences is obvious because Awakening (From the Sea) kicks in with smooth but dark a capella vocals highly reminiscent of Glenn Danzig, especially given that they're set against soft cymbals and an occasional power chord that hangs in the air. What's odd, though, is that this song is acutely subdued, ever threatening to just explode into action but without ever really doing that. Maybe on stage it'll feel more emphatic, but the instrumentation is kept far lower than the vocals and, given that it isn't on the next track, that has to be deliberate.

The other influence that has to be trawled out here is the Doors and for multiple reasons. For one, those velvet vocals are just as reminiscent of Jim Morrison too, especially given how they serve to command as much as sing. Gather round, flower children, and the vocalist will tell us all a story, an important and subversive one set against an ambient backdrop that grows and swirls, just like the maelstrom in the cover art. There's at least one more, because there are screams that come in at points late on and they don't fit Danzig or the Doors, but I couldn't tell you who.

I can certainly throw out Iron Maiden on Mooneater pt.I, because it's clearly a prog metal song in psychedelic rock clothing. The guitars are shifted up there with the vocals now and the intro, right out of Di'Anno-era Maiden, leads only into more Maiden. There's some doom in there too, but it's a perky doom laced with prog and it's delightful. The only catch to this one is that the lyrics seem a little shoehorned into some spots, like there were too many words for the space but they felt that they couldn't cut any out. That also isn't how "tyranny" is pronounced. But hey, I'll shut up and let that guitar solo wash over me again. It's a gem of a track, even with a few flaws.

There are another five songs after this and they tend to play out with those same ingredients, just in different amounts and with others added for garnish. Another Damn Idiot starts like the Doors meets Danzig again, only to add harsher vocals, squealing guitars and a bouncy call and response vocal section. The soft midsection is absolutely delightful, the noodling bass providing the perfect ambient backdrop for the guitar solo. The escalation out of it is delightful too. Horrors in the Attic is similar but not as noteworthy. Bar Cannabis evolves into more Iron Maiden guitarwork.

Grasshopper adds a punk bounce to proceedings, only to drop off a cliff into another ambient part, this time with narration. It's a huge shift and I'm still not sure that it works, but each side does for sure. I'd be happy to listen to a whole album of these ambient sections. They're agreeably chill and they offer a fantastic opportunity for both the bass and the lead guitar. Lovecraft seem to be fond of these sections too, to the degree that Deep Dark Slumber starts out in one and has fun teasing us about when it's going to ramp up. Eventually it does and turns into a sort of occult rock ritual.

I really dug this album. My biggest problem with it is trying to figure out which parts of it I like the best. I'm pretty sure I should highlight Mooneater pt.I and Another Damn Idiot as my favourites as opposite sides of that Doors meets Maiden mindset. The former is more urgent and more Maiden, but the latter is more versatile and more Doors. However, I can't leave the opener alone, with its subdued nature and subtle broodiness. Now I want a psychedelic rock album from Danzig! I believe this is Lovecraft's debut album, so maybe we'll see that under their name as they develop. As the Archpriest of Chaos in the First United Church of Cthulhu, I salute them!

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