Review by Tomek on February 5, 2018.
Knowing Loch Vostok from its previous two albums, I was excited to see Strife when it first came in. V: The Doctrine Decoded was the first album I’ve heard from those guys, and I thought it was really good. The second one called From These Waters was even more enticing; it really kept me on the edge of the seat, so I thought to myself that this band is on the way up on my personal charts. With everything going well for those guys, Strife, technically, should get them near the top 'no problem', right? Well, not exactly.
I’ve always thought of Loch Vostok in the terms of an ever-changing and always-experimenting bunch. I felt that listening to their albums is a challenge or an experience since they never seemed to keep the same formula for their work. Their brand of melodic death metal continually introduced elements from different genres or styles, and the way they blended the bits were inventive and interesting for the most part. Well, whatever happened or didn’t happen to them since then is a mystery, and the fact of the matter is that they’ve presented something entirely different on Strife. This time around, most of the elements that kept me glued to my seat for the duration of first two albums are either absent or so watered down that I can’t even consider them being there. Most of the new material seems to be one dimensional, almost basic, and, frankly, lacks all the nuts and bolts that are needed to get this album to be a little more electrifying. While listening to Strife I keep wondering, What happened to the raging, yet melodic progressiveness, to the speed, to the aggression and groove, or the deep growl that I liked so much on previous releases? Why is all the black and death metal fury that was so awesomely intertwined with shredding guitar solos, mad hooks and kick ass energy suddenly gone and replaced by this generic, monotonous slab of uninspired, plastic-sounding jumble? What used to be fast and furious is now dull and just plain numbing. There are some sections that remind me of the good stuff I’ve heard before, of course, but it is not enough to bring anything exciting to the table, nor able to up the rating to a level that I wanted to give. Quite saddening since I had such a high hopes for this album.
Loch Vostok is experimenting with new things on every album, and they’re always trying new combinations and mixtures of styles to blend something attractive and possibly groundbreaking. They’re taking risks every time a new album comes out, and I have mad respect for them for not giving up on trying to incessantly reinvent themselves. To me, personally, Strife was a miss, but I’ll still pick up their next album when it comes out because Loch Vostok is the kind of band that you just never know what they’ll come up with.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10