(20 Buck Spin, July 2013)

One of the funeral doom ‘must-have’ releases of 2013, Lycus’s ‘Tempest’ offers enormous, bleak music straight from the black caverns of Hades, supplemented by terrifying growled vocals and soul-crushing chanting.

There are occasional, frenzied black sections that bite off chunks of your flesh and leave you bloodied, as well as glorious epic bits that temporarily lift your desperate soul from the mire, but on the whole this Oakland, US band focus squarely on delivering pure misery in bucket-loads.

Despite offering just three songs, ‘Tempest’ clocks in at 40 minutes or so. Throughout the album, there are numerous moments – sometimes as simple as the selection of a beautiful harmony, or a particular note, or even the spacing between notes – which suggest that this band is a cut above the rest.

At other times, they play it a little safer, concentrating on building an atmosphere of desolation through some fairly generic (although admittedly effective) funeral fare. As a relatively new band, perhaps they are still unsure about how far to push their boat out, but thankfully the former instances far outweigh the latter.

Lycus are at their best when they provide a flicker of light to accentuate the overwhelming darkness – such as the last two minutes of opening song ‘Coma Burn’, when a rising sense of elation provides a kind of tonic to the preceding nine minutes of woe. The same song incorporates some great violin work (movingly performed by Christa Schmidt) to add richness and depth to the music.

When they follow their creative instincts, and really stretch their songwriting abilities, Lycus become a monstrous Doom Metal powerhouse. ‘Tempest’ is a thundering success, and there is undoubtedly more to come from this impressive Californian outfit.

Check Lycus out here:


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