Eis is the name of the debut album by the Austrian band Loather that’s coming our way in June via Vendetta Records. After a roughly four-year gap in Loather‘s releases (which of course included the pandemic disruptions as well as lineup changes), it follows an initial demo and two EPs, the last one being 2019’s Haganvelt.
It has never been easy to craft a succinct genre description for Loather’s music, but the task is even more difficult in the case of Eis. We’ve seen the phrase “blackened narcotic metal” applied to their past works. Elements of black metal and doom play roles in Eis, and Loather indeed prove themselves quite capable of casting narcotic spells.
But the genre ingredients one might identify don’t really operate as very useful signposts for what the album provides listeners in Loather‘s dark renderings of stress and sorrow, of angst and anger, of power and poignance. The music itself provides the best guide, and so it’s fortunate that we have a part of Eis for you today in our premiere of the song “Mortuary“.
The band explain that “‘Mortuary‘ is about looking down into the grave of a beloved person: to feel all of the unseized moments, the lack of possibilities as well as the possibility of absence. It’s the beginning of an end that lives on in the mourning of those left behind.”
You’ll find that “Mortuary” is a multi-faceted song that ebbs and flows in its rendering of distress. But among a sequence of affecting sensations, what will likely be most memorable to most people is (for want of a better term) its pulse — like the urgent throb of blood hammering in the veins.
Embellished with reverb, the guitar chords at the outset provide an intriguing glitter and the bass creates the first appearance of that vibrant pulse, while a voice adds its somber croon. It’s a seductive and even mesmerizing way to begin, but Loather don’t wait too long to ratchet up the music’s power without losing the opening thread, greatly magnifying the low-end throb and the sense of tension and turmoil in the guitars.
The band continue to dial up the song’s emotional intensity, bringing the guitars to a blackened boil and the double-kicks into earthquake mode, as the vocals transform into vicious snarls and screams. The band return to their more subdued opening motif again as a bridge, but this time it feels more unsettling. On the other side of the bridge, the music erupts in percussive tumult, with the vocals and guitars uniting to sear the senses in a display of shattering despair.
Yet the song’s magnetic pulse never completely vanishes. It provides the throughline, though it’s the clanging bass that carries the pulse toward the end.
That song is the second advance track from the album released so far. We’re also including a stream of the first one, “Holler Your Name“. It too is a changing affair, one that makes good use of the band’s starkly contrasting vocals and the instrumental contrasts between pulverizing lo-frequency heaviness and high-end riffing that broils the nerves. The rhythm section stalks and rumbles, the guitars wail and convulse — but in its closing phase the song becomes moodier and more poignant, haunting in its sorrow.
Digital pre-orders are available now. Physical formats will follow from Vendetta with the release of the album on June 23rd. For more info, check the links below. The stunning cover is a 1914 photo by Harald Sohlberg, “Vinternatt i Rondane”.