Though their beginnings began in 2006 Australian rockers Lo! first caught a wider ear with the release of their debut EP in 2010. Mighty and overwhelming like the darkest of storms, the Sydney quartet’s sound ignited a new attention and enthusiasm for themselves which eventually led to signing a deal with German label Pelagic Records, the owner of which Robin Staps was just one of a growing number impressed with the bands creations. This has all led to the release of Lo!’s debut album “Look And Behold” and the unleashing of the band’s crushing sludge/hardcore/ black sounds to a wider and waiting audience.
Lo! consists of four musicians who are no novices to the Sydney music scene, the combined power and skill of guitarist Carl Whitbread, who conceived the band after the demise of his previous band Omerata, bassist Adrian Shapiro, drummer Adrian Griffin, and the intense and threatening tones of vocalist Jamie-Leigh Smith, coming together to bring an album heavy in thumping riffs, intense in attitude and attack, and creative in melodies and diverting avenues within songs. The sound is varied with no song predictable or set in stone that it will only flow one way, with a single flavour, or hit with just the lone type of attack. As guitarist Whitbread explains;
“Having quite a diverse range in musical tastes (everything from death metal, to electro, to classical), I wanted to find a way to bring my favourite elements from different genres into the music, without it sounding like a blatant mish-mash of styles”.
The album opens on an atmospheric short instrumental in ‘Hath’, the first of three that break up the intense wall of sound the other tracks bring. ‘Seraphim’ and ‘Doth’ equally as effective in bringing a short but smart and emotive divergence to the consuming sounds elsewhere. Not that one needs a respite as though the album is a towering wall of sound it does not batter the senses without feeding them great skilled quality too. The opener is a nightmarish start leading into the dark energy of ‘Deluge (Carnivorous Flux)’ whose eagerness to challenge and test ones mettle is instant. With riffs that stalk and pounce alongside driving guitars, Smith’s hardcore vocal attack, and the immense leading drums of Griffin, the song already shows a band not happy to settle on the obvious in delivery or song construction.
A delicious grumbling and groaning bass display from Shapiro rides firmly amongst the proud riffs within ‘Bastion’ next. The track lined with a shadowed groove bridges the sludge/doom and hardcore fields resulting in a track that engages with a lighter tone than expected but still ominous and heavy. ‘Hued Tarantula’ follows the next instrumental interlude with equal power and satisfaction but it is now the album really erupts.
‘Aye, Commodore’ flows on an incessant sonic groove that winds its way into the brain with devilish intent lingering behind the slightly slower melodic and subdued moments waiting to tease and play with the senses again, all the while Smith’s vocals are almost pleading with their gruff sound and delivery. The song throbs with additive energy and shows the potential of the band.
‘Indigo Division’ takes over in a similar vein but with a darker intention. It is harder and harsher in its riffs and aggressive attack pummelling its way into the ear but again without ripping the flesh away as it goes. Brief it may be but powerful it certainly is and a great contrast to the best track on the album in ‘Moira Kindle’ which opens on a wonderful Faith No More like melodic touch. Soon the gem blends in a firm and aggressive assault and brings a fine example in how to mix both approaches to the strongest effect.
“Look And Behold” is an impressive album whilst still suggesting that the band has yet to push themselves to their limit which with giving an album that gives such strong satisfaction as fully as it does inspires a very strong anticipation of what the band could deliver in the future.