It’s no secret that more than a few of us on staff are rather large fans of New Jersey progressive metal group East of the Wall, and with good reason. They’re one of the most unpredictably beguiling, yet always insanely thrilling, groups out there and are criminally under-appreciated by the masses. We’ve also previously reported on EotW guitarist and vocalist Matt Lupo’s solo project OPUL. His first three EPs (all of which are available on a name your price basis on Bandcamp), are an eclectic mix of melodic doom, progressive death, and countless other alt, indie, and prog influences. Tomorrow, however, Lupo will release his fourth EP as OPUL, Levels, and like everything else he’s released, it’s different and wholly wonderful.
The immediate surprise here is the heavy shoegaze wash across Levels‘ 3 tracks. Reverb-laden production and bright, clean tones are front-and-center throughout, which serve as a fitting compliment to Ludo’s very tuneful and melodic vocals. The least surprising thing about these tracks is simply how huge these vocal hooks and choruses are, particularly on opener ‘Presence’ (embedded above) and closer ‘Clarity.’ Ludo has such an incredible knack for these pleasure-centers of melody that always manage to sound fresh and different from one another, and that talent is showcased here from beginning to end.
In terms of overall musicality, this is by far the least heavy and poppiest release from Ludo yet, leaning heavily on 90s shoegaze and more modern progressive pop sensibilities. Second track ‘Velocity & Saturation’ dips into darker territory more reminiscent of East of the Wall, but it’s brief and ultimately resolves into an ambient haze that sets up the power prog of ‘Clarity.’ Of course this isn’t an issue if you’re already on-board with this style, but if you’re looking for heavy death sounds like on his previous EP The Assailant you won’t find them here.
At 19 minutes, Levels is a lovely and tight package of ear-worm melodies and powerful songwriting that should leave a lot of listeners looking for more. I certainly would be more than pleased to see a full-length OPUL album of this style and caliber pop up someday.
Levels will be available for digital purchase via Nefarious Industries January 13.