Subtlety. Obscure references. Complex thematic tools. Some bands utilize these to create their sense of atmosphere, weaving dense tapestries of allusions and crooked paths of language. While these artifacts create interesting and rewarding albums, they can just as often lead to pretentious and pointless music. That’s why it’s a good thing that bands like The Lion’s Daughter exist; their straight forward brand of violent, abrasive and direct metal is a refreshing balm in a world where it’s hard to know who’s legitimate and who’s putting on airs. From the first note of Existence Is Horror, indeed from the very name itself, one can deduce what and how this album thinks about the world. It is a robust and inflammatory release, focused on channeling as much pain, anguish and anger into its relatively short run-time of forty minutes. By leaning on basic, recurring ideas and embellishing them with interesting riffs, and a compelling vocal performance, they manage to do this in a fashion that retains its charm even late into the album’s life.
Pinning down the exact genre that The Lion’s Daughter work within would be difficult. On one hand, plenty of their musical elements take their note from post-metal, particularly the way in which the instruments are arranged. The drums are massive and fuzzy, the guitars are robust and in the center and the vocals are placed half way between a growl and a scream, calling to mind industry giants from within the post-metal genre. There are also passages which are drenched in electronic-sounding vibes, like at the end of “Nothing Lies Ahead”, one of the best passages on the album. The bass is coupled with weird, retro-like synths to underpin the recurring riff, creating a rich outro to what is arguably the best track on this release.
However, in that track and in other places as well, The Lion’s Daughter are much faster than what post-metal is usually defined as. In that regard, they draw more from blackened thrash, with high speed riffs overlaid over blastbeats and anguished vocals. Tracks like “Four Flies” for example, which contains an almost punk-like drum pattern in its middle, or “A Dog Shaped Man” are almost break-neck, focusing on the fury of the riffs rather than an emotional deliverance. This adds a fierce urgency to the album, contrasting with the basic slowness of the other influences that exist on it. That’s perhaps one of the best tools the albums utilizes to keep its listener entrapped: it never settles down into a rhythm or a riff for too long, instead relying on aggression to carry the momentum forward, always spiking the slower passages with some sort of fury.
Make no mistake however, this is still essentially a monolithic and massive album. It can be perhaps likened to Thou‘s Heathen: even though it doesn’t share too many musical cues with that excellent release, the similarities lie in the ability to focus on being abrasive rather than on a specific genre. Like that 2014 release, Existence Is Horror is more concerned about getting the message across rather than with genre-specifications or stylings. The somewhat self-titled closing track, The Horror of Existence, is a good indication of that: its middle section introduces sludge into the mix, turning the temp meter way down for the closing moments of the album.
While those elements were certainly present through out the album, they weren’t as heavily accentuated as they are here. Thus, the ending moments of the album get the general point across: we’re here to make you hurt, not make a statement about cross-genre albums. The mix-and-match quality of the album is driven by an expert’s need for the proper tools; the musicians don’t care which tool they pull from out of the box, but only that it’s abrasive, heavy and direct. That’s why Existence Is Horror simply works. It’s completely tuned towards finding you and making you hurt. In a strange way, in an industry sometimes dominated by obfuscation and pointless rhetoric, that’s exactly what makes it so refreshing and endearing.
The Lion’s Daughter Existence Is Horror gets…