14 Apr 2024
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Lava - EP Review: Lava

29 Feb 2024 // A review by Nicholas Clark

Lava is basically stoner/doom/black metal. Their self-titled EP is slow, heavy and chocka-block full of fuzzed out down-tuned swampy riffs. They also sound like a one-man band, in as much as it appears to be a lo-fi, underground passion project propelled by one person, (but who knows; the entity is quite mysterious). What few lyrics can be deciphered beneath the layers of fuzz, are about humanity, fate, death and time; you know, the big topics.

The four song EP clocks in at only ten minutes, which is surprising when I first heard how slow the songs were – and I mean doom metal slow. The guitar lines are either slow chugging riffs or furious, blistering, violently played notes on settings with little to no concern for subtlety – not unlike black metal. The tunings are so low that when the bass plays alone, the individual notes can’t really be heard – however, throughout the short ten minutes, there are moments where it all comes together in a type of uneasy equilibrium.

Hands Melting Off The Clock of Time is a worthy opener that begins with the sound of a clock slowing down before dark, ominous tones fill the audio spectrum with a stoner metal riff. I only wish there was more of a bounce to it, a tiny shuffle that bands like Kyuss, Pantera, Prong or Sepultura do so well with their groovy heaviness. The song plods along gloomily with drum fills that feel a little lazy and predictable. The strained but emotional vocals are rather impactful; you can tell when someone genuinely means it with this type of performance. There are some good harmonious guitar lines that really thicken the already full sound, but before I know it, the song has ended. A guitar solo would have been appreciated, but Lava seems to lean toward black metal more than any other style and solos are few and far between in that subgenre.

Second song, Take the Fall, begins with drums, before a super low bass joins in. The notes are so low that articulation is next to impossible. A super chunky riff begins, but it’s all a little too similar to the first song in terms of tone, key and tempo. The vocals are again strained but emotive and cut through enough of the harmonized guitar lines and rather clumsy drum fills to be heard: “When your time comes, you will know to take the fall.” This song is way too short, but perhaps the reason for this is the lack of structure. What these songs appear to lack are order and dynamics, and it doesn’t have to be as simplistic as verse-chorus-bridge, but something has got to break the monotony so that when the band truly hits their heaviness at full throttle it appears more aggressive precisely because they have pulled back from the extreme occasionally. Nevertheless, a few moments on both these songs display a raw energy that rivals bands such as Celtic Frost or Gorgoroth.

The standout track is the third song, Tasteless World. This song contains not only female vocals, but also an ambient pad to begin, strangled tones of a guitar that sound like a siren, super low fuzzed out guitar chords that positively bleed with feedback, and an epic, complicated arpeggiated chord that slides up the neck in a rather impressive flourish. There’s more structure here to connect with, from an introduction with the female vocals at the beginning, to the main heavy part of the song, all the way through to the demonic laugh and an amp growl to finish.

The EPs closer, The Ponderer, is an instrumental filled with harmonized guitars and glorious feedback. The guitars sound stacked and thickly layered, and at the finale a flanger slowly sweeps through the acerbic noise.

Contained within these four tracks are all the ingredients that Lava needs to be more successful, if that is indeed what they want. The recording is raw and lo-fi, but not to an extent that it impedes the music. More importantly than that, they require structure in their songs, and perhaps a drummer with a tighter feel. Taken out of context, a few seconds of these songs are as thunderous as any musical act dares to be, but it pays to remember that shadows appear darker next to the occasional lighter tone.

 

About Lava

"I am not sure when it all started, but in 2021 I bought a lot of recording gear (a couple of years prior to this I had written a bunch of songs) and behold!, Lava was born. More of an outlet for my musical sponge brain and the fact that I am obsessed with music, art and film, but also in the hope that people can take something positive from it. With underlying lyrical digs about the on- going saga that humans are the earths destroyers but also the destroyers of there own race. And the general abandonment of the mind while still having fun with rock 'n' roll."




Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Lava

Releases

Lava
Year: 2022
Type: EP

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