Aussie crew Lo! are back with sophomore full-length release 'Monstrorum Historia', the follow up to their 2011 debut 'Look and Behold'. I was quite taken with their initial offering but this latest outing is something of a disappointment. And I can't quite put my finger on why I haven't clicked with this one. Perhaps it's because the songwriting is not quite as inventive as 'Look and Behold'. The core dynamic in tracks does sound a little samey at times - not formulaic, but there's not too much to distinguish the songs stylistically ('Fallen Leaves' is perhaps an exception). Lo! do blend various styles within their songwriting but it's a repeated blend between tracks. Apart from the short instrumental interludes, it's more of the same as each new song plays out. The heavy impetus of Burst is still present as are the down-tuned prog-grooves of Mastodon and compositional tenets of other metal subgenres as hardcore ferocity is offset against doom-paced sludge but it doesn't gel as effectively as it did on 'Look and Behold'. The fusion of styles is a little stilted this time so some songs sound like a mish-mash of ideas rather than naturally blending within the compositions. Maybe it's because Lo!'s debut blew me away and my expectations for the follow-up were high but 'Mostrorum Historia' is, inescapably, a disappointment and, whatever constitutes that disappointment, the album just doesn't do it for me. I don't want to come across as overly critical as it's still an enjoyable listen, but it's a step down from its predecessor. Perhaps people discovering Lo! afresh will find a lot to get excited about here without the benchmark that I have. And at least my expectations won't be as high for their next release.
Review by Mark Holmes
19th April 2013
1) As Above
2) Bloody Vultures
3) Ghost Promenade
5) Haven, Beneath Weeping Willows
6) Fallen Leaves
7) Crooked Path: The Strangers Ritual
8) Lichtenberg Figures
9) Bleak Vanity
10) Palisades of Fire
11) So Below (Before We Disappear)
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"The core dynamic in tracks does sound a little samey at times - not formulaic, but there's not too much to distinguish the songs stylistically..."