Reviewed: March 2023
Released: 2023, Blood Fire Death
Reviewer: Simon Wiedeman
Litost are a Spanish black metal/death/crust band on the Blood Fire Death label who released their second full length album ‘Pathos’ on 17th March, 2023. It is rough yet melodic, is depressive and desperate, and it even has some oriental flavours in track ‘Barjan De Cefiro’. The act says ‘the general concept of the band continues to revolve around ‘Litost’… a term… related to introspection and human misery’. The group are for fans of Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Harakiri For The Sky, and Gaerea. They feed on your negative emotions and destroy you with balance and honesty. Even so… might be good! Let’s find out.
The album starts with track ‘Tromba’. It has a mid paced and dreary introduction, in terms of tone I’m reminded of Burzum’s ‘Belus’ album. Then without any kind of warning whatsoever, the tempo changes to a ridiculously fast blast beat with even crazier tapped shredding on top. Making things even more intense than that, the shredding goes on for a good 45 seconds or so! God knows how many notes get played in that time. Probably around 1,000, no joke! Great stuff. But after that? I find the metalcore style singing to be very lacking in individuality. You know a really good BM singer? Dead. That was a man who had something different and intriguing about him. The chord progression underneath the vocalist doesn’t really wow much either. On the plus side, it’s not limited to power chords, it has a bit of a melodic death metal feel, but it just doesn’t really stick in the mind.
The song does improve in its ending section, though. Things slow right down and two doomy power chords get repeated. It may be simpler, but it sounds far cooler than the previous harmonies. The two chord progression is rather like the mid section of Mayhem’s ‘Freezing Moon’ but kind of the other way round. FM’s chords raise by semi tone, (a very evil step!) Litost’s chords fall by a semi tone. (Just as evil). Whatever Litost do, you can’t copyright a chord progression, so they are fine. That section gets followed by similar if developed harmonies but black metal tempos. Again, I’m reminded of Mayhem’s ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ album in terms of development. ‘Espectro’ begins with another more complex progression, but again the band don’t seem to realise that less is often more. Around half way through the track, the band experiment with lighter and more mysterious textures and chords. Ok fair enough, less isn’t more there. I would even go as far to say there are some cool prog influences, think Cynic. Don’t wear your thinking cap for too long though, the traditional BM soon returns.
‘Vigilante del Abismo’ is an orchestral piece that seems to have been performed on a not particularly good keyboard. It’s nowhere near as complicated as the stuff Septicflesh comes up with, but if you think early, cheap sounding dark ambient music has something about it, you may enjoy the track. ‘Emboscada’ is back with the distorted guitars and such. It’s a reasonable BM sound but far from adventurous. Same goes for ‘Simun’ really, until the eerie choirs enter in the track’s second half. Their usage seems to come out of nowhere and they seem to disappear into nowhere too, however. I wouldn’t think any less of the band if the whole album had such choirs. If anything, they need them so they can stand out more. I say track ‘Barjan de Cefiro’ had oriental flavours, really it’s fully oriental. I guess I make mistakes, too. 🙂
Instrumental BM track ‘Vendaval’ doesn’t develop the ethnic sounds which is a shame. After 30 seconds it does have a very cool neoclassical riff in it with a surprising range of notes, though. It’s genuinely very well written. Sadly however, it doesn’t get repeated. The other ideas in the piece aren’t bad, but they are far more forgettable. The solo tradeoffs (or at very least melody tradeoffs) in the track kind of remind one of later Megadeth but the noodling here is nowhere near as skilled or creative. But of course you don’t have to shred all the time. Obviously. Final track ‘Galerna’ is another extreme metal track with dreamy Cynic influences. At least those parts got some development, where the flip did the choir go?? Oh I do apologise, you get at least some choir later. Good for them. Good for them.
To conclude, this stuff is performed and recorded well, I guess it’s at least a bit of a journey too, but it is lacking in originality. Yes there are some melodic death ideas with the black stuff, but they are typical for the genre. So really what you’re getting a lot of is a mix of two very typical styles which doesn’t sound so impressive. The oriental track does work as an interesting interlude, but why not have such music with distorted guitars and drums added? Problem solved, just like that. The intro track kind of promised a lot with its super exciting guitar soloing, but that level of excitement never returns. I tell a lie, a whole song could have been made with that neoclassical part I mentioned, but again, it doesn’t last. And whilst a lot of material was generated from that malevolent two chord pattern, it has been done before, just in reverse world.