San Francisco’s Lotus Thief are described as avant-gardists in press blurb which, I would suggest, is entirely misleading. I mean, there’s no wild experimentation or musical iconoclasm at work in their songs. The blurb then goes on to say their “visionary music” has “elements of doom and black metal as well as post rock”. Doesn’t sound too avant-garde to me, if at all. Through the listening experience of their latest album, ‘Oresteia’, this proves to be the case. What I will say, though, is that it’s all rather beautiful - be it ambient or heavy, of which there are incessant contrasts throughout. They’ve succeeded in encapsulating an overriding sense of beauty in darkness through their music.
Progressive within its own, self-styled atmospheric aesthetic, songs have been allowed breathing space, both compositionally and through their execution, to develop in naturally interesting ways. Sure, there's a metal immediacy to some of the passages of music that blast forth with effective heaviness, in sharp contrast to the many mellow sections, but songs' genuine heavy essence is in the emotions Lotus Thief convey, be that through melancholic and menacing, introspective ambience; layered post-rock bliss; or beefier moments of growled aggression.
In fact, it’s all very nicely layered throughout. Guitars, bass, violin, drums, and multiple voices all combine to create some wonderful atmospheres, particularly in the slow-builds. The resulting soundscapes are oozing melancholia and menace, with evidently much thought put into the instrumentations and vocal phrasing. I also like how they seem to eschew any obvious genre affiliation. There are the promised elements of doom, black metal and post rock to be heard, but these are fused rather than discrete, and encased in songs that ultimately transcend easy categorisation (but NOT avant-garde!). It’s all about the emotions, and the execution of the material on ‘Oresteia’ is loaded with so much affective depth. Folk even rears its head in the compositional pot - notably during the opening couple of minutes of ‘The Furies’.
While vocalist Bezaelith doesn't have the most naturally powerful of voices, she has a decent enough range and a very engaging timbre that fits the music perfectly. In fact, talking of folk, her delivery has definite folk qualities as she warbles around some ever so slightly dissonant notes, yet still staying in key. It’s a quality of her voice that works perfectly within the context of Lotus Thief’s music which is, all in all, pretty damn good.
Review by Mark Holmes
10th January 2020
3) Libation Bearers
5) The Furies
7) Sister In Silence
8) The Kindly Ones
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...songs' genuine heavy essence is in the emotions Lotus Thief convey, be that through melancholic and menacing, introspective ambience; layered post-rock bliss; or beefier moments of growled aggression."