(This is DGR’s review of the latest album by the Finnish band Lucidity, which was released in February by Inverse Records.)
It’s interesting that we have never before penned words about Lucidity and their branch of the sad-sack melodeath musical tree, as the Finnish group’s keyboard-laden doom-influenced style seems to be perfectly within this website’s wheelhouse — well, at least in one particular writer’s wheelhouse. But now the time has come.
Lucidity have existed for quite a while now, though only recently appearing to have become a more album-oriented project. Prior to the release of their debut disc The Oblivion Circle in 2015, Lucidity had been putting out a steady stream of demos, totalling around five before the aforementioned debut. Nearly four years later — in the back part of February — the group released their sophomore album Oceanum. Clocking in at nearly fifty minutes across eight songs, Oceanum has some heft to it as it drapes itself in a veil of melancholy while conjuring familiar imagery of forests, lakes, and all things pensive.
Lucidity place themselves firmly within that musical sphere early on in Oceanum. “Surface” opens with cold and echoing guitars, before dropping the song into the hard driving-groove around which most of it is built. Every element of Lucidity’s sound is on display during “Surface”. The group’s use of multiple vocal stylings channel both the sing-song miserable nature of Hanging Garden and a bellowing low that could call to mind Swallow The Sun. The band’s light atmospherics constantly flit about in the background — a light keyboard melody here (more prominent in the slow-moving bridge of the song where it goes fully melodramatic), an echoing guitar lead there — and a hammering rhythm section keeps the band firmly planted in the death and doom sphere.
“Surface” does a lot of work to lay out what Oceanum’s main drive is going to be, work that the following two songs, “Unveiled” and “Scotoma”, pick up and carry forward.
“Unveiled” plays out like an alternate-reality take on “Surface”: It starts out as the heavier of the two with a weapon of a slow-moving opener with which to bludgeon a listener and an excellent series of bellowing lows. Combined with the wall of guitar and keyboards backing it, the opening of “Unveiled” moves quickly into the crushing category of heavy metal. The clean-sung moments of the song are haunting, especially as it spills into its chorus. If “Surface” is the part of Oceanum where the album is built up around the listener, then “Unveiled” serves as the opposite. It’s the part where the album crashes down around you. The two make for an excellent pairing, with another highlight waiting in the wings just behind it.
Oceanum begins to shine with its third song “Scotoma”, which runs counter-current to our site’s name since a large chunk of “Scotoma” is a clean-sung song, yet the melodies that are woven into it are so undeniably good that the urge to sing along quickly becomes difficult to resist. The opening segment, as quiet and distant as it is, is built perfectly to give way to the sweeping dramatics of its main chorus as the rhythm section leans heavily on crashing cymbals and crushing bass to move the guitars forward, backed by a massive keyboard swell while the vocals sail over the top of it all. For a while it was hard to say how good the rest of Oceanum was on this end, because the first three songs had already moved through such an increasingly dynamic space that it was difficult not to just rewind back to the beginning and make that journey again.
Which of course is funny if you’re the type looking for where the main meat of Oceanum’s forty-eight-minute run-time is coming from. The main course of that is the center of the album, with the pairing of “Borders Of Then And Now” and “The Hope In Severance”. In sheer length alone, “Borders Of Then And Now” is a big song, but it is also a densely packed track, filling those eight and a half minutes with a whirling combination of elements that were slowly laid out beforehand by the album’s opening barrage. “The Hope In Severance” at first seems to be the opposite with its slow and quiet build in the opening — one of the few moments of genuine quiet — but “Hope” shows its opening to be the more death metal of the two, much like how “Surface” and “Unveiled” played out before them. Whilst “Borders Of Then And Now” is the clear winner in terms of sheer drama and amount of clean-sung segments, “The Hope In Severance” gets to be pretty hard-rocking, with a sense of groove carving a path throughout the background of the song. Vocalist Martti Pohjosaho really reaches for the sky within those two songs and would easily earn commendation based on those performances alone.
What makes Oceanum work so well is that Lucidity seem to have figured out the balancing act of their sound. For the most part the eight songs on Oceanum remain a pleasant experience into the dreamlike atmospheres of misery that this specific branch of doom likes to inhabit. Equally overwhelming and quiet, Oceanum is likely to have Lucidity drawing comparisons to the afore-mentioned Swallow The Sun and Hanging Garden, which is not a bad place to be at all. Lucidity seem to be able to combine those two groups’ sense of melancholy into their own brand of sorrowful music and spread it fairly evenly across Oceanum’s album-length journey.
Right now, Oceanum seems to be flying under the radar a little bit. If you’re a fan of melodramatic death-and-doom hybrids that are full of ethereal sounding keyboards for atmosphere and pensive vocal work, then Oceanum is an album almost purpose-built for you. With their second disc, the band demonstrate a remarkable expertise in their style, and it’s something that shouldn’t be missed. It’s a long album, but it’s the kind of long album in which you can get absolutely lost as it travels in equal measure through its multiple moments of beautiful-sounding, cold atmospheres and its suffocatingly heavy drags through the mud.
While some of us may be drifting into the hotter months of the year, Oceanum and its February release make the perfect sort of album with which to make a trip back into the cold and grey for a bit.