Released: 2010, Utech Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Chicago’s Locrian are a hard outfit to describe. More of a musical art project than a metal band, Locrian creates expansive soundscapes that are more about the atmosphere and experience than headbanging and moshpits. The band’s most recent release, THE CRYSTAL WORLD is a captivating journey that brings to mind the industrial experimentation of bands like Scorn combined with the sweeping ambience of Wolves in the Throne Room. I’ll wager that 95% of those who will read this review will wonder WTF the big deal is, but for the 5% that “get it,” THE CRYSTAL WORLD is an emotive and powerful album.
THE CRYSTAL WORLD is thematically based on JG Ballard’s 1964 novel of the same name. The Cliff’s Notes version tells of a Physician working in a remote African outpost who discovers a jungle that is crystallizing and encroaching on everything it touches. Musically, the album captures the cold sense of helplessness that Ballard’s story conveyed. A 2 CD set, Disc 1 features 6 tunes clocking in around 45-minutes, while Disc 2 features a single hour long experiment in sustained intensity, aptly titled “Extinction.” The 6 tracks on Disc 1 feel like individual acts within a bigger single production, as each song feels like it feeds into its successor. “The Triumph of Elimination” opens with a stark minimalism that gives way to the haunting dirge of “At Night’s World,” which bleeds into the somber beauty of the title track. By the time you get to “Elevations and Depths,” you’re emotionally invested. A fitting exit for the album proper, the layers of orchestral strings and gentle guitar work act as a release from the caustic musical ascension.
Personally, I think Locrian have created something exceptional with THE CRYSTAL WORLD. Certainly not your average walk in the park, but rewarding for those willing to take the path less traveled. Open your ears, open your mind, and immerse yourself in something unusual.