Labeling something “atmospheric” has become, over the last two decades, a favorite device of metal music writers and bloggers alike. Everything with a twinge of doom, with a snifter of black metal, with pinch of post-metal bombast gets the ‘atmospheric’ tag. It’s not a bad thing, and it’s certainly something that has been done in this space on more than one occasion. But how many of those acts can lay claim to truly setting up a certain type of atmosphere that varies so greatly from the world around it, or one that emits a certain aura of excitement and danger? Probably not as many as get the tag by eager scribes willing to sell their Thesaurus in order to preach the virtues of any given act. So with that said, please be rest assured that when discussing the debut offering from Oakland’s Lament Cityscape, ‘atmospheric’ is not only a deserving term, but a required one as well.
From its opening moments, The Torn can be viewed less as an album, less as a collection of stand alone songs, and more as a soundtrack to a very dark alternate reality where there is precious little to be excited about. This album wreaks of survival, as in surviving from one day to the next is really the only option you have. Tracks like “Turn Inward,” for example, churn and churn onward with such a menacing precision it’s almost militaristic in its delivery. ‘March or die’ feels more like ‘march and then die’ because in the end we are all going back from whence we came and Lament Cityscape are the soundtrack to having your breathing tube removed – slowly and while you watch aghast.
The beauty of this album though lies in the myriad of ways in which Lament Cityscape can drag you under a tidal wave of absolute sonic depression. Whether it’s the post-metal moodiness behind a certain riff, as you might find in a track like “The First Son” or the all-out, mammoth-like doom metal assault of a track like “The Final Son,” Lament Cityscape are adapt at weaving together a shroud of utter dreariness. Their finest moments though are when their cavalcade of influences come together like the colliding of atoms, forming a new bond. Look no further than “This Has Always Been” which starts as a post-industrial bombing before morphing into a downright torturous doom rampage or the ensuing “Sewn Into Our Palm” which takes said doom and translates it back into a distinctive array of post-metal despondency.
Whatever or however you want to categorize this album almost becomes a moot point by the time you reach its conclusion. Lament Cityscape have delivered a debut album that can double for the theme music to the largest End Of The World Party you’ve ever attended. There can be no light without darkness, yet there is simply no light here. It’s feels as if the sun itself has been swallowed whole and defecated back upon us note by dreary note.
The Torn is out now via Battleground Records. You can experience and purchase the album at the Lament Cityscape Bandcamp page.