With the advent of Mad Max: Fury Road, it’s come to light again that what could considered to be “dumb fun” or “braindead action” can really hold its own in the artistic world as well. The idea of something being fun typically means, in our emotionally heavy and work-driven world, that such a thing sacrifices its ability to carry with it any true weight or merit, whether it be in literature, film, or, the most relevant topic here, music.
Albums that are oft-toted for their merits as emotional triumphs are rarely ever touted as fun albums as well, but here, bluesy sludge metal outfit Abrams shows us that a band can achieve both a level of simple enjoyment and of emotional depth within the same stroke. Their debut album, Lust.Love.Loss., displays a band that can harness the equal powers of heavy, groovy riffing and emotive songwriting to create an album that’s a win on both fronts.
Abrams sounds similar, stylistically, to Remission-era Mastodon: polyrhythmic bluesy grooves hammer away as washed-out leads dance and skip around jazz-influenced drum fills. The combination fulfills a niche that hasn’t seen a true successor since the aforementioned 2002 masterpiece, and part of the reason this album is so welcome is because of the genre’s sparseness. Songs like ‘Sea Salt Lines’ or the title track do what the genre does best in terms of taking simple ideas and building off of them, higher and higher, into a landscape of emotional dips in the sound and monolithic riffs that come crashing down after powerfully climactic moments. It’s very refreshing to hear such an authentic and genuine take on the genre’s sound, and this refreshment is a key factor in this album’s enjoyment. Yes, we could just go back and listen to Remission for the umpteenth time, but now there are new tracks that are almost as good! It’s a godsend that an album that channels so much of that classic’s spirit exists today, stretching across the decade-and-change to bring that same sound that so many have fallen in love with.
This album is a joy through and through. Although there are small chips in its armor here and there, nothing stands out as a glaring fault; the mixing is appropriately dirty and lo-fi, the bass and guitar riffs weave together in pleasing ways, and although no riff stands out as exceptional save for a couple, certainly none of them are bad. That may be the album’s biggest failure: the miring in mediocrity on a couple tracks that, when viewed alongside of the rest of Lust.Love.Loss., simply feels weak and pointless. It by far does not ruin the record’s impact, but it’s hard to justify listening to the whole thing all the way through more than a few times when it’s easier to just pick and choose standout tracks.
Lust.Love.Loss. is a modernization of an old classic: in the same way that Fury Road is an update on the mythos of Mad Max, so too here does Abrams recall something from an earlier time and focus themselves on improving their source material and dragging it into the modern age. Harking back to 2002, when Mastodon roamed the earth creating ear splittingly heavy, bluesy sludge, Abrams revives the old sound and breathes life into it once more. There will always be people arguing over whether the old or the new is the superior one, but the one thing all will agree on is that the genre is certainly better off with this updated entry.