(Andy Synn brings us the last of his daily reviews this week, extoling the virtues of the new album by the French band Lessen.)
Last, but by no means least, on my week-long parade through the underground and the undergrowth of the worldwide Metal scene, we’re setting up shop in France to listen to the self-proclaimed “Progressive Post-core” of Lessen and their second album A Nebulous Being, a highly melodic, intensely emotive mélange of metallicised Post-Hardcore and atmospheric Post-Rock influences, which references (at various times) bands such as The Ocean, Thrice, Shai Hulud, and even the dearly-departed Burst.
With its mix of chuggy, core-friendly riffs, elegant, eloquent melodies, and enigmatic, ambient sections, it’s immediately apparent that the music on A Nebulous Being is aiming more for emotional resonance than pure heaviness – though occasional moments of rhythmic pounding or unexpected blastery (as on the multifaceted “A Piece of Heaven”) do up the ante considerably –so please adjust your expectations accordingly.
That’s not to say that the album is lacking in sonic intensity though. “Many-Faced God”, for example, delivers an impressive pounding, interspersed with significant moments of proggy ambience, while both the aforementioned “A Piece of Heaven” and the second half of the slow-burning “Already Dead” employ some cleverly placed blast-beats and rapid-fire kick drums to great effect.
However, this undeniable emphasis on empathy over hostility also comes through clearly in the expressive, cathartic vocals, which are delivered primarily in a wounded, Hardcore-tinged howl of angst and anguish, occasionally switching things up for a harsher, scalded scream or a fluttering of subtle clean vocals when the song or the mood requires it.
As such, the overwhelming impression one gets from Lessen on this album is of a band trying to both express and elicit some real emotion, some real feelings, from their listeners, rather than aiming to simply bludgeon them into submission.
Of course, there are many different ways to be “heavy”, many different ways to be “intense”, and the majority of A Nebulous Being gains its power through the blending of atmospheric overtones and undercurrents rather than through any attempt to push the aggressive envelope, with tracks like the solemn “Above Us” and titanic closer “Aleph” garnering just as much of their weight and presence through their use of echo-drenched melody and pulsing ambience as they do from the crisp crunch and convulsive clanging of their guitars.
Not unlike the music of the similarly enigmatic Thränenkind (whose latest album I also reviewed recently), I acknowledge that Lessen’s raw, heart-on-sleeve, style of emotion might not connect with everyone – it’s a lot easier to embrace anger than anguish after all – and the more “-core” elements, though not predominant, might also be off-putting to some of our readers. There’s not much I can do about that.
But for those of you looking for an impressively fulfilling, multi-layered listening experience, one that demands multiple listens, multiple explorations, and one which also demands a certain level of investment and perseverance from their listener, well, you might just have hit the jackpot.