Friday, November 26, 2010
Review: Laudanum - "Coronation"
"Any press is good press."
That may be the reasoning over at 20 Buck Spin, where despite my known lack of interest in blackened doom, drone and all associated styles, their releases just keep showing up in my mailbox.
Of course, it’s not all about me. My approach to reviewing has always been to write for the reader more than to impose a personal opinion, but in this case the two paths probably arrive at the same destination. If you’re a regular, active user on Punknews.org, chances are slim this is going to be an album you seek out. If you’re reading this only because you Googled “Laudanum – The Coronotion” or something similar, chances are you already have an interest in this, and therefore it may very well be to your liking. But again, this review isn't for you.
Granted, there is a small minority of hardcore kids who don’t mind sludgy, repetitive noise and they might be the most likely significant demographic of readership to have an interest in Laudanum. After all, the one-sheet’s RIYL does drop names like the Melvins and Throbbing Gristle that have the history and panache to reach a broader appeal. But The Coronation is still pretty much a niche sound.
The first five minutes of the record are essentially white noise. The album is 50 minutes long. So they've already spent 10% of the disc space leading up to the wall of sound, a slow, sloshing doom progression. Part-time vocalist Becky Hawk (how’s that for a metal name?) has a nice, snotty, almost punk delivery that warms things up for alternate male vocals that hit like a sledgehammer.
But directly following the heavy onslaught of “Invoke” is another five minutes of “buildup” (i.e. droning tedium) during “In Obscura,” raising the portion of noise to one-fifth the whole disc. The band continues the cycle of several minutes of chords and rhythm followed by five minutes of drone through “Wooden Horse” and “Autumn Horse” before making decent use of the eight minutes “The Last Sleep” demands. The final track “Apotheosis” is a fairly reasonable summation of the album: an 11-minute composition with eight-and-a-half minutes of monotonous buzzing that spends the next three sludging over a few chords with no vocals to break up the ennui.
And it’s really a shame Laudanum didn't inject more vocals into The Coronation. Substantial vocal sections only appear on two out of the seven tracks, and of those, “Invoke” is really the only one that commands the attention of the listener. While there’s surely an audience for this type of endeavor, it’s probably not from around these parts.