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Eight years ago, I reviewed Lydia Laska's debut album, 'Krankenhaus'. I loved it. Kvelertak were being a big deal, and the future of black metal looked to be heading in a very rock and roll direction; much like Entombed had done with death metal back in the 90s. And, so, you'd have thought Lydia Laska would capitalise on this and release album number two in quick succession. But they didn't. It has taken eight years to follow their debut up and, naturally, expectations are high. 'Ego Death' is the name, and the press release claims a more brash and rough sound, albeit with each song being a potential radio hit.

Fans of The Stone Roses may recall similar circumstances that Lydia Laska find themselves in; delayed release of second album, confidently titled 'The Second Coming' in their case, and expectations unrealistically bursting through the ceiling. And, like The Stone Roses, Lydia Laska is doomed to fail. I certainly agree that this album sounds rougher and more brash than 'Krankenhaus', but there is no way each song has radio potential (even if said radio station is, as per the press release, "...entrenched in the darkest, dingiest sewer and was playing warring factions simultaneously". Whatever that means). No, Lydia Laska have released an album of songs that are certainly not without merit; the song-writing is quite good in places. What kills this, though, is the production and the performance. What seemed eight years ago to be an inspired sonic choice now seems hopelessly dull and flat. Vocalist, sigh, Candy Whorehole, sounds positively bored. His delivery yields no sense of passion. There is little in the way of dynamics in the music; it all sounds thin and crushed. I honestly struggled to get through the damn thing. I'm left wondering if my initial reaction to 'Krankenhaus' was justified - had I been suckered in by the Emperor's New Clothes of black metal? Listening back, I can only surmise that's partly true. The warning signs were there all along; strangled production, Stone Temple Pilots-ish vocal delivery. At the time it all sounded very exciting; a new direction for black metal. But, with the benefit of hindsight, there's reason black and roll hasn't progressed; it's achingly dull (as evidenced by Kvelertak's discography, which fairs little better). Weirdly, the best 'Ego Death' gets is with penultimate track 'Funeral Fist', which introduces some black metal growls into the mix. Unfortunately, it's too little too late.

It's baffling to me that such a good (although maybe not as good as I thought) debut could be followed up by something so mediocre as 'Ego Death'. Eight years should have provided the band with ample time to write and hone these tunes. Production can be done with amazing results in bedrooms, so there's no excuse for such a terrible sound (unless it's deliberate, which raises more questions). I just get the impression the band realised they had to release something or split up. 'Ego Death' is the result of that ultimatum.
Edged Circle Productions
Review by Steve Cowan
5th October 2018
1) Teslicity, Baby!
2) You
3) Taste of Blood
4) Brainmelt
5) I Can Play Myself
6) Gout Lord
7) Did You Do It Again?
8) We'll Make-up Your Mind
9) Funeral Fist
10) Levitation
"Lydia Laska have released an album of songs that are certainly not without merit; the song-writing is quite good in places. What kills this, though, is the production and the performance."