What’s the difference between a good concept album and a shit one? Hard to say. Does it depend on the lyrical content? Thematic refrain and reprisal? Who knows. There’s even sneaky concept albums, the likes of which the layman listener wouldn’t even begin to fathom had intentions beyond riff, chorus, solo, repeat. The Cold Sun might be one of these; Loathe seem like a band bold enough to attempt such a thing on their debut full length. What isn’t up for debate is this – The Cold Sun is just about all filler. Twelve tracks. Six songs. Zero (or damn close to it) cares.
The over saturated UK tech-metal scene is just that. Chock full of Meshuggah come Fellsilent come Tesseract clones. There’s nothing progressive about this kind of music any more, whatsoever. Loathe progress from one tired trope to the next on their debut long play, seemingly content in using the same chord progression and breakdown through the entire duration of The Cold Sun. Starting with a short, sweet synthwave introduction, the band slip through four tracks of low end grooves, sing song choruses and “brutal” dropped out breakdowns. There’s a slowed down version of said breakdown in near every track. That is, every track that is actually a performance by the band.
There is barely a full lengths worth of music on The Cold Sun. An EP, sure, but when six of twelve tracks contribute nothing to the fray (even closer “Babylon…” barely counts; one riff, different tempos, does not make a song make), alarm bells are ringing. The band are loud and becoming with rhythmic booms of processed extended range guitars but even this feels forced; the Slipknot outro to “Stigmata” would actually be Slipknot if it weren’t for the drop tuning. The early moments of “It’s Yours” show promise, more so when the African rhythms of “Dance On My Skin” bleed into an (admittedly) cool use of vocal phrasing. “East of Eden” almost threatens to get catchy but fails. Everything here has been seen and done before. That’s okay if there’s an itch needing scratched, but eventually that isn’t enough.
Even tonally, the low end sounds like fellow Brit tech-metallers From Sorrow To Serenity, with a ratio favouring dejection and regret over blissful peace. Is it possible to completely jack a band’s guitar riffs AND tone today? Nope. Doesn’t stop Loathe trying though. Later days The Contortionist are probably the most ripped off band in progressive or technical metal today and look at that, The Cold Sun is full of flattery verging on appropriation; vocoder cleans and tiresome ambient sections. Not to mention the completely ill fitting “The Omission”. An industrial four the floor type creeper that should have taken heed of it’s own title and omitted it’s own damn self.
This isn’t a great debut. Some publications will piss, shit and jizz themselves over the band’s “bold and daring” attack on genre standards. The “rawness and maturity” of a young band coming into their own. They’re all wrong. The best thing about The Cold Sun is contained within the first single released from it. Everything else is either more of the same but watered down, or try hard atmospheric nonsense. Loathe is the food truck that everyone goes to when all the good ones are too busy. It’s never gonna be great and it’s definitely not easy to digest but it’s accessible. That’s not enough, is it?
The Cold Sun is available 4/7 via SharpTone Records and can be purchased here.