“Experimental” and “avant-garde” may be the most overused and misapplied words in the entirety of the metal lexicon. Not because they are bad words to use generally (they are, in fact, quite good), but mainly because there’s no way in hell for a listener to know what a writer is using as a frame of reference when utilizing them. They could mean anything from the wackiness of Igorrr to the hellishness of Deathspell Omega or the odd angularity of Dodecahedron. The experimental or avant-garde monikers are completely useless without context, and therein lies the rub: How do you draw comparison to that which is exceptionally unique? I know, big dumb intro about semantics. But it’s a conversation worth having while discussing Russian death metal trio Lautreamont and their very solid debut record Silence of the Deceased. Off the top of one’s head, it would be fairly easy to categorize Lautreamont as just another notch in the very long belt that is experimental death metal. But such a descriptor sells this band short. Silence of the Deceased is very far from an album hell-bent on nothing more than novelty, instead utilizing death metal tropes that are easily recognizable but are presented in interesting, unique ways. It’s an album that feels on the surface like it’s attempting to obfuscate and confuse, but such an interpretation of this music would be surface level. Hidden just below the surface of this initially imposing record are clearly defined melodic themes and riffs that create an immensely inviting and accessible listening experience that only deepens in richness with repeat listens, and in doing so create on the whole an assured debut and remarkably compelling listening experience.
The juxtaposition of the experimental and traditional contained within this record come screaming out of the gate with “Evil”, which opens with a riff/tremolo barrage that is matched impeccably well by the drum-work. This introduction does feel reminiscent of the songwriting machinations of Ulsect or Ulcerate, but rather than diving headlong into technical badassery the band instead create menacing, odd textures with what’s happening around the center of the composition, rather than in the melodies themselves. Eerie voices lilt and flow in the background of the track, layering the guitar, bass, and drum-work with an overall sense of disquiet and unease. All this coupled with vocalist Alex Zarotiadi’s guttural, hellish delivery creates a near perfect amount of ghoulishness. It’s a great opening track, and the record doesn’t relent from there. While “Father” follows in the footsteps of its predecessor (feeling in some places like a genuine “part-two” construction upon the foundation laid by the first track, the album’s title cut is another beast entirely. Opening with a cavernous, expansive guitar intro, the track quickly builds into something incredibly heavy, incorporating blast beats in a way that adds an immense amount of power and propulsion to the rest of the music swirling about them. Subsequent track “The Hour” includes some of the album’s most memorable riffs and melodic lines, while “Psalm” allows the band’s emotive style of songwriting to reach its creative peak, with a finale on par with the work of bands like Departe and Schammasch. The record’s final two tracks deliver much of the same, creating an album that is uniform and devastating in its delivery and objective.
Which leads to my main criticism of the record, which is its homogeneity. While the sounds on this record are on the whole fantastic, the lack of variety between tracks can often create a feeling of sameness, with each track bleeding sonically into the next. While this could be a significant issue for some, the sounds contained on this record are good enough to overwhelm this issue. Some of these songs may sound the same, but that sameness is entrenched in compositions that are fundamentally interesting and engaging. A minor complaint for a record with this much to offer.
While the more experimental tendencies of this type of music often get the headlines, it’s often the more accessible elements that make records like these work. Lautreamont balance between experimentation and accessibility with an incredible amount of skill, creating a record that is both adventurous and infinitely listenable. A stirring debut from a band that is absolutely worth investing your time and energy in.
Silence of the Deceased is available now on major streaming platforms and for purchase at the band’s Bandcamp page.