A fact that’s often lost on an American audience is the connection of Italian culture and the occult. From early vampire movies to the esoteric circles of the Tourino literary scene, Italian film, music and literature have been dealing with the absurd, the fantastical and the downright terrifying for well over half a century. The connections to music are plentiful; the Italian punk scene for example has always been fascinated/repulsed with occult imagery. This is fertile ground for post metal as the saturated genre already gravitates towards the obscure and esoteric. Thus, it is no surprise that Lento‘s latest release, Fourth, marries post metal and occult imagery. It goes further than just the cover art, effective as it is; the music itself gives us off this distinct vibe of otherness, of a dark presence surrounding you.
At the basis of Lento’s sound is a fuzzy brand of post metal and groove that reminds us most of Labirinto except heavier and more twisted. It creates the distinct, heavy sound that post metal is famous for but refuses to relent into the cliche of constant pummeling that so often limits the genre. Instead, Lento do two things to vary thing up. The first is the actual composition of the heavy segments and a varied use of drums. On “A Gospel of Resentment” for example or on the opening track, “A Penchant for Persistency”, these dance around the heavier chords and create much needed variety and interest for the listener. Nor are the chords themselves, and the rest of the instrumentation, left to wallow in obvious complacency. Instead, there are a ton of little games with spacing and sound that keep the listener hooked.
But the second element is by far the more impressive and that’s the passages in between the heavier ones. Take the aforementioned “A Gospel of Resentment”; it ends with this ambient and weird segment. Passages like these do much to create the occult atmosphere we spoke about before but they do much more than that. This one, specifically, fades into “Last Squall Before the Crack”, a decidedly “bright” track that’s almost like a fresh breath of air or the sun glimpsed in between the clouds of a momentarily abating storm. Once this respite, beautiful as it is, is done, it’s right back into the chaos; the following “Cowardly Compromise” features intense blast-beats followed by a bewildering unravelling of a monstrous riff.
Fourth takes you on to many such rides and that’s what makes it so good; it feels like a very complete work of art, secure in its momentum and message. By drawing on these ever-changing elements and the weirder/more abrasive parts of Lento’s sound, it truly conveys the sense of a world very much like our own but disturbingly different. It creates a space of oppression and timed reprise, sucking in the listener as the record unfolds and as more listens are put in. That’s exactly what good post metal should do and Fourth accomplishes it brilliantly.