Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Lion's Daughter - Shame On Us All (2012)

Take a good, long look at the album artwork to "Shame On Us All," the new album by St. Louis three piece The Lion's Daughter, and you won't have any doubt of what you are getting yourself into. This isn't a cookie cutter pop album, or the next installment of smooth R&B. This sludge covered, blackened death machine haven't come to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. They would much rather destroy your eardrums with a crushing blend of screams and overwhelmingly heavy instrumentals. Through eight tracks, these three men may have grown adults looking for monsters under the bed.

This isn't a subtle offering by any means, as the early moments of "Eaters Of The Sun" will prove. Instead, you are immediately pummeled by a tidal wave of guitars, bass, drums and harsh vocals. No waiting for the hammer to drop, no wondering what kind of album you've gotten your grubby mitts on. The deathly vocal lines may be enough to coax the shit right out of you. If not, the thunderous low end will surely do the trick. The outro, which doubles as a breakdown, is just plain scary. Wasting no time, "Deadbeat At Dawn" continues the gang beat down you already began. It's the small touches that make this track special, mainly in the guitar riffs. Whether they are darting out on their own, or tangled in the murky web of the bass line, they feel like hands around your throat, choking the air from your lungs. Oh, and "fuck you too."

You definitely get the black metal tone in "Heavenless, Far From Earth," both in the sheer speed of the drumming, and in the raw mixing quality. Vocalist Rick Giordano isn't one to lull you to sleep with a dreamy melody, when he could just as effectively pound your skull to a pulp with his fear inspiring screams. A slower, downtempo section emerges, surprisingly, changing the entire mood of the track, with rolling drums filling most of the void. Drummer Erik Ramsier pounds you with snares and toms, and Giordano passes his pain along to you with every word. Despite the fact that "The Signal Was Lost" comes in with a more restrained approach, don't be fooled. The feedback and pulsing drums are merely a vessel for the next track, "World Ender: Buried In Dust." The blackened death metal sound has come full force here, with every moving piece locking together in a brutal sweep of riffs and rage. A murky assault of distorted chords follows, with vocals that seem to get more abusive as they go on.

If you thought you had heard the heaviest this three piece has to offer already, you were sorely mistaken. The four minute topping "Shifter" is mind blowing in its density, packing more punch in every note than you could have imagined. Something to take notice of is the way they manage to give you more of what you want, that being heavy handed instrumentals, without sacrificing the songwriting process. This isn't just repetitive chords and cliche drumming. There are clearly defined melodies, for lack of a better word, that bassist Scott Fogelbach leads with grace. In a devilish game of "peek-a-boo," the band starts their version of the Nine Inch Nails song "Mr. Self Destruct" with feedback and a drum beat, before screaming directly in your face. They make the song their own, but in a way that would make Mr. Reznor proud. The longest track on the album is the closer, "The Bringers Of Shame." Coincidentally, it is the most complete offering as well, with each instrument coming through with a clarity that only increases their strength. Through the bevy of double kicks and piercing snares, Giordano shakes your very skeleton in ways that may leave you frightened long after the music has faded away. There is a distinct possibility that he is the monster that has been hiding under your bed all these years.

We often ask, rhetorically, what they put in the water in various cities that makes their men so big, their women so beautiful, or their kids so stupid. But never have we asked that question of St Louis, in reference to how their metal got so damn nasty. The Lion's Daughter, along with fellow St. Louis sludge lords Fister, are starting to give cause for concern, that the home of The Gateway Arch may be the last place you ever visit. The frighteningly good, yet wholly punishing, tracks on "Shame On Us All" have left me feeling one thing. If this is what the lion's roar sounds like, I am not going anywhere near him... or his daughter.


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