(This is DGR‘s review of the new album by Lament Cityscape, which was released in late April by Lifeforce Records.)
Sometimes you lack the words to truly describe what is happening within an album and sometimes the stars even align enough that it seems the band themselves have a hard time pinning down what they’re doing. It’s the genre-nerd’s true nightmare, but on top of that the issue also leads to difficulties describing why something fascinates you so much as a listener, because the usual book of terms has long since been torched.
Wyoming’s Lament Cityscape is one such group. While we’ve written about advance songs from their most recent release A Darker Discharge a handful of times, we’ve never fully delved into it. There’s reason to suspect that part of the reason is that the vocabulary may be lacking, and we might wind up just issuing forth four paragraphs of word salad.
That doesn’t mean we won’t try, but when the band themselves have seven or eight hybrid labels attached to their heavily industrial-imbued avante-garde form, you can understand that when it comes to A Darker Discharge, it may just be easier to say that this is the sort of album that is best listened to in one go – because no amount of description is going to provide a full picture of what takes place in the half-hour or so of music here.
A Darker Discharge goes through a few movements during its run time, when Lament Cityscape change and morph their way through a handful of different genres. The album is quite a few things; metal in aesthetic, heavily industrial, ambient, sludge, blackened… there’s so many ingredients that could be described here. But the thing to keep in mind is that none of them are overwhelmingly aggressive. They’re used as tools to achieve a greater goal, which in this case is one long journey through the world Lament Cityscape have crafted.
A Darker Discharge starts immediately, which can seem strange given the sort of ambient-noise tags you might see applied to this one, but surprisingly enough the sort of atmospherics and greater script-writing for the album don’t fully settle in until you start reaching the weightier-in-time songs like “Innocence Of Shared Experiences”. In fact the first three songs – “Ocean Of Fuses”, “All These Wires”, and “Another Arc” – all run into one another, drifting between large swaths of backing noise and a sense of immediacy that can make you think that A Darker Discharge is wasting no time until you reach the previously mentioned fourth song.
The latter movements of the album shift between things much faster, but it’s here where people will likely draw comparisons to the droning doom of acts like Author & Punisher. The industrial tag is well-earned buts it’s part of the greater whole because, much like Author & Punisher, Lament Cityscape do a great job of creating a sense of being lost in a greater machine. The parts where Lament Cityscape resemble a traditional band only happen in the very latest stages of A Darker Discharge, as guitars start to slowly crawl their way into the mix.
It’s nothing fast and it’s where the sludge tag starts to apply itself – hence why it seems like the band have settled on “Larva-Rock” for a descriptor – but it represents another moment where Lament Cityscape slowly transform the area surrounding them from one far-away, forlorn atmosphere into things slightly more urgent. It’s an interesting experience to take the song “Part Of The Mother” – which closes things out just as violently sudden as things began – and compare it with where A Darker Discharge began, with “Ocean Of Fuses”. You’ll recognize all the DNA between them and all the roots tying them together but you’d never have guessed that Song One would become what Song Seven is without the journey between.
As mentioned before, in spite of all the familarity with the genres that are being rammed together here in service of a greater whole, it’s not being done in service of aggression. What it achieves is something overwhelmingly bleak, and that is what makes A Darker Discharge fascinating. It’s hard to describe just how much the music within the album matches the muted hues of black, white, and grey that dominate its cover art. Its why A Darker Discharge is one of those releases that is best taken in all at once. There’s no immediate single here, not even for the most hardened among us who would look at a concept album and just pick out their favorite four or five songs and move on.
A Darker Discharge is a well-laid out and tied-together journey through one of the coldest musical landscapes portrayed in some time. The overwhelming bleakness saturates all, and listening to it happen is part of what makes the album such an interesting listen.