Sunday, 12 August 2012

Review: Leeches of Lore - Frenzy, Ecstasy: Oh my! Spaghetti with meatballs! Eat that, cowboy! - 98%

Imagine for a moment we do find something interesting on Mars, hopefully it would be proof of the existence of life, maybe a settlement? Let's enter this hypothetical city, let's walk in the midst of its red sand streets, what do you see? A cantina? YES, let's have a drink shall we? The cantina is dark but inviting, Ennio Morricone is drinking a glass of Italian red wine at the bar, he's talking to a trashy cowboy with an accoustic guitar strapped to his back, the later seems pretty drunk and inclined to a fist fight, you ignore them and continue. In the pale light of the bar, a long hair stoner is playing a game of pool with a more clean cut metalhead, it's a rough game but at the same time, it's cohesive. The psychedelic scent coming from the stoner is making you dizzy, you don't know exactly why you like this place, but it's captivating, you try to move, but someone is grasping your leg, instinctively, you kick the danger in the face only to see that it was a dead drunk thrasher, he's now bleeding on the floor and the remaining people in the bar are looking at you suspiciously, you actually missed the show, damn you. Suddenly, there's a scream coming from the bathrooms, along with the metalheads, you investigate the scene. « Ah, it's simply our zombie, Jon Lord, he scared the waitress again, no worries» says the stoner. The stage is freshly empty, the air smells like tobacco and tequila mixed with German sausages, you're suddenly very confused and you decide to go outside to get some air. Unfortunately, the warm sun of mars is making you sweaty and sick, you fall on the sand, subjugated, but happy, you close your eyes.You hear that the Martian cowboys are fighting, lasers are burning on the walls, is it the siege of Cydonia ? You'll never know. You wake up in your bed, your headphones are on the floor but your jaw is surprisingly in place, but there's a sparkle in your eyes.

That's the emotions and thoughts I got when I first heard this album, and no, I'm not taking drugs, not often anyway. I simply don't have the words to describe this masterpiece, I think they simply don't exist yet. Maybe the rover Curiosity will find them for me because this band is totally out of this world. Let's come back to our planet, let's pretend the dudes from Leeches of Lore are still living in their native New Mexico and hanging out in a similar bar. Frenzy, Ecstasy is the third album from this very strange, original and powered by kryptonite trio. If you took the time to read my short story ahead, you got an approximative understanding of this band. With influences ranging from country, flamenco, spaghetti western, noise, indie, experimental, avant garde, progressive and psychedelic, well name a genre, it's probably there. All this within a solid core of speed/thrash/heavy metal. Leeches of Lore are the most original and ground breaking unit I ever heard. Encompassing so many things I like without randomness and confusedness, it's a very well balanced record and at only 37 minutes, you have no time to get tipsy, you barely have the time to understand everything, you need a second, a third, a fourth listens, and you'll still oblivious to the intricate songwriting. The name of the first song sets the bar quite high for some funny silliness, it's named "Afghanistan Banana Stand", but let's not decline the invitation, this is not a humoristic band, this is a modern version of Rush if they got lost in the Mexican desert, met the guys of Sleep, smoked weed for a couple of years while watching old westerns on a black and white television. All this on a porch full of dwelling geckos. 

The band consists of 3 extremely talented musicians, Steve Hammond handling the vocals & guitars, Andy Lutz on the drums and Noah Wulters playing the organ, bass and piano. Three musicians in a perfect chemistry, creating a penetrating sonic orgasm which is grasping your living heart in its invisible allure. The keyboards, just like 80s Rush, are quite prevalent in their sound, but it's not modern sympho pseudo snoozefest metal, they are played on old school rhodes piano, hence you should expect a very natural sound, just listen to the parts on "Reverse, Cowgirl". It's dense, captivating and it has the shadow of 70s progressive rock to look upon. After this cool song, we have a slow dirge full of Morricone influences, the trumpets are blazing their glorious despair upon us, mere listeners. These influences can be found in the best and longest track on the album, the second song "L'evoluzione dei Microbi", an eight minutes magnum opus of incredible variety. The begining is quite slow, it's an emotional reminder of a Leone movie. It's slowly building a crescendo culminating with some epic doomy metallic riffs, fast paced drums and soaring clean vocals and it ends with an experimental and noisy conclusion. Quite a ride, it's a good summary of the album in fact. 

There's also some real thrashy moments, like "Savory Marshmallow" with cool high harsh vocals, heavy riffs and epic vocal lines. But overall, what's dominating this album is the country and spaghetti western influence mixed with their already awesome metal sound, hell, the trumpets are credited to Pancho and Nefty, an obvious reference to the classic song "Pancho & Lefty" of Townes Van Zandt, a folk and country legend. Really, I don't think I heard a similar band, they're doing what they want with no contraints , being an independant band is probably a plus for them. Unfortunately, they're going on a hiatus, one of the member is going to Mexico for a while, I can't hardly see how they can be more influenced by this culture than on this record witout losing the other metallic and rock influences, but we'll see. I'll wait patiently for a new release and my expectations are quite high after this masterpiece.

I don't think I can continue praising this album, like their 2 previous releases, Attack the Future and Leeches of Lore, it's really strange but mesmering music with a knack for visual odysseys. Their album art is a good proof of this, take a look at the very poetic cover of Frenzy, Ecstasy , it's not capturing the sound like the two previous albums though (their second album could easily be a NES game artwork), but it's describing a very beatiful content with many surprises. This band like Voivod is for a vivid generation of weird listeners, there's no boundaries to their music.

The spaghetti is metal, already full of butter, add these tasty Italian meatball sauce, this western seasoning and let it melt in your mouth. This is Leeches of Lore, welcome to Mars, enjoy your stay. Soak your face in their magical tomato sauce and ride your horse till there's no more bad thoughts in your mind..

Tony's notes : the mp3 album is available for 6 bucks on their bandcamp. Help them buy some more spaghetti sauce.

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