Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Leeches of Lore – Motel of Infinity (2015) / 95%

Room service is here and it's freaking delicious

One of the oddest bands in America but also one of the most interesting and talented is back with their fourth full length after a short hiatus and I couldn't be more pleased. They once again released a masterpiece and it's a shame that this band isn't widely acclaimed. The New Mexico trio led by Steve Hammond (guitar, vocals) has always been a peculiar beast and a superbly varied affair. They're an extraterrestrial being who's not afraid of experimenting and breaking the boundaries of music's apparent limitations. From fast paced and thrashy heavy metal to noise rock, drone (their Giant Sloth extended play) and Western, these guys can play anything while never being totally confused of confusing. They could be compared to Melvins, the godfathers of weirdness in terms of vision and and for their numerous genre jumping jacks. They also really love the Washington state band, Hammond covered some of their tracks on his solo releases and they got the help of longtime Melvins producer and guest musician Toshi Kasai (who also plays additional instruments on this record) to produce and record Motel of Infinity. This dude definitely gave them their best production yet

Starting with the first thing I've noticed: the cover art, I think it's a good representation of the spirit of Leeches of Lore, an old cheap motel with a view on a clear and beautiful sky. I think it's an analogy to the humble identity of the band while explaining their grand vision. I probably like it because it reminds me of the album Motel Capri by the popular Quebecois folk/rock band Les Cowboys Fringants. Anyhow, like the epic cover of their previous record, this more down to earth artistic approach fits the festive, at times summery album.

LoL (best acronym ever?) surprised us (me, at least) with a country EP in late July. I instantly shared it to my father who's a big Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings fan and he totally liked it. This shows that they're an authentic group of musicians who are as ecclectic as much as the United States is cosmopolitan. I wasn't sure of what to expect with this new full length as Frenzy, Ecstasy was some sort of transition effort (this doesn't mean that it's not a masterpiece, I gave it a 98% three years ago and this score is still adequate) after their first two lps which were generally much heavier or more metallic (listen to “I am the Raptor” from their self titled). Their third album was heavy but in a noise way and the spaghetti western side of the band was deeply explored. I think the western side of the band has been diluted for Motel, there's some sort of surf rock feel that is now more prevalent and while there's some metal moments like “Don't Open till Doomsday”, a track that reminded me of Faith No More's Angel Dust, it doesn't seem like a totally metal album, it's instead all over the place but in a cohesive way. It's a more controlled sort of craziness than your usual Mike Patton project.

The omnipresence of Noah Wolter's keyboards (rhodes, etc.) is giving a sort of The Doors/Deep Purple vibe but played in Area 51 since it's totally bonkers. There's no bass guitars so the rhythm section consists of the proficient and interesting drums of Andy Lutz and the keys. It's almost as strong as the Manzarek/Densmore duo! Their musicianship is impressive in its ability to navigate many styles without breaking a sweat, they're excellent musicians in complete control of their direction.

I like the fact they rerecorded “White Debbie” (found on
Attack the Future), it's much shorter and feels like a more joyful and softer version. There's also “The Olm” originally on Hammond's experimental album Canclo and it's the only long track on there with its six minutes length, the track has this sort of drone/doom/ambient part before exploding into their bombastic style. Most songs on Motel are short bursts of creativity (many are around the two minutes mark) but they're so rich with details that the relatively brief duration of the album is inconsequential, I'll only press the repeat button since I doubt I'll get tired of it. While the songs are shorter overall than on Frenzy, Ecstasy, it's perhaps not as instantly memorable, it takes a lot of tie to dissect all the organs but it's truly rewarding.

Leeches of Lore is a persevering band but you need to make some effort in order to decipher all the artefacts they buried underneath their inventive blend of music. They're adventurous not only because they mix genres that are rarely or even never combined together (speed metal + western, anyone?). LoL has once again wrote a masterful album and took the lead for “best album of 2015” as far as I'm concerned.

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