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Clandestine Transcendence

United States Country of Origin: United States

Clandestine Transcendence
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Buy on: Bandcamp
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: January 19th, 2024
Label: MNRK Heavy
Genre: Sludge
1. The Universe Is Weeping
2. I Am Nothing I Am Everything
3. Unto Becoming
4. Final Push Into The Sun
5. Dancing On The Emptiness
6. Facing The Incomprehensible
7. A Brief Return To Physical Form
8. A Bond Broken By Death
9. Break In The Clouds (In The Darkness Of Our Minds)
10. Soul Metamorphosis
11. Swimming In The Absence
12. The Endless Road Home



Review by Raphaël on February 15, 2024.

Hailing from grey and rainy Portland Oregon, Lord Dying appeared over a decade ago, founded by Chris Evans (Guitars) and Erik Olson (Guitars, Vocals), playing pretty straightforward sludge metal. In 2019 however, they were joined by Kevin Swartz (Drums) and Alyssa Mocere (Bass, Vocals) after they released one of the best albums of the year, going full progressive sludge. They added so much depth and layers to their sound, so I’m excited to see what the new members will bring to the overall sound. To quote their bandcamp page, “In a time where everyone is trying to out-sludge or out-doom each other Lord Dying gives something less than a fuck”. That should give you a pretty good idea of how the band approaches music. Anyway, back to their last release. It was a concept album, the first of a trilogy, following the main character, The Dreamer, an immortal being that desperately wants to die. Well, on Clandestine Transcendence, he gets his wish! What follows is 59 minutes of dark, sometimes incredibly heavy and aggressive, and other times softer and more melancholic, but always captivating piece of art. From the magnificent cover art, to the intricate story and of course, the musical prowess, this album is an early contender for album of the year!

The album begins with 'The Universe Is Weeping', a simple melodic picking without distortion, giving a real Western feel, but then goes pretty quickly into a fast, heavy metal style, galloping riff accompanied by repeating guitar notes in the background, playing a kind of unsettling melody. Vocally, they go from harsh, screamed/growled vocals to both male and female clean vocals. The end with Alyssa singing those lines repeatedly: “We know, We’ve lost our way now, We won’t succumb to, The worms in our minds”. You know the melody is catchy when it is sung a cappella and it get stuck in your head. Lyrically, we had a good preview of the albums subject matter, death is always present but I would say, it’s a way of talking about life and all the pain and hardship everybody has to go through. Next is one of my favorite songs of the album, 'I AM NOTHING I AM EVERYTHING'. It starts with a rolling and repeating drumbeat soon joined by powerful minor chords and coupled with harsh vocals and some kind of droning guitar notes in the background, giving a very apocalyptic feel to the whole thing. Right there you see one of the strong points of the band, the songwriting is on another level. They mentioned in an interview that although it’s a concept album, they approach each song individually and put a lot of work so that each song can hold itself alone. The song goes in a lot of directions, it goes super heavy, death metal style, with blast beats and tremolo picking, to a great buildup with that rolling drum beat and of course, a shredding solo towards the end. We still follow The Dreamer: “The Dreamer stands, Before the cosmic eye, The door is open, Open wide” as he begins his journey after life. With truly powerful images: “Abysmal death surrounds us all there is no life or reason The path is paved in blood, the eyes open forever seeing”, the lyrics are as important as the music in my opinion. Another thing that stands out is the production. The whole album sounds impeccable. Every instrument is clear in the mix, the drums sound clean and organic and the bass, sweet Jesus the bass. I think one of my highlights is that bass sound! It sounds so thick and massive!

The next two songs are at the same time really different but still sounding familiar. There is a clear influence heard all throughout the album, I’m pretty sure they listen to a lot of Mastodon. It's riffs after riffs after riffs, being super heavy while still conveying strong emotions of both hope and despair, facing the massive emptiness of death. On 'Dancing On The Emptiness', they really showcase their prog side. It’s a long song with a superb buildup before the chorus, where you go through funky guitars, multiple solos, complex drumming and super thick bass lines with pauses that really highlight every instruments. And then there’s the chorus, I have chills just thinking about it. It’s so grandiose and emotional and it goes well with the lyrics that are a bit less dark and shows the beauty and the relief, in a way, that death brings. Thinking about your past life: “All the time we shared, And the love we felt, All times we fell apart, We still got up, To face another day, As we leave the void”. This is what metal music is all about, making you feel all kinds of things, from anger to hopefulness. Next is 'Facing The Incomprehensible', a short, fast and aggressive song that gives you the feeling of wanting to punch a wall! Followed by a short interlude of soft acoustic guitars, filled with minor intervals and an electric guitar melody that transition perfectly to A Bond Broken By Death, another prog epic. It’s a super diverse song with twist and turns, with key changes that transforms the mood from hopeful to darker vibes, all within five minutes. In the middle of the song, there’s a fairly long instrumental pauses that consists of only acoustic guitars playing a bluesy melody. It’s a song that focus less on aggression and more on emotions, the musical prowess and the songwriting. The song is as much musically powerful as it is lyrically:” Division is the way, it's What we have become Everything will fade to grey Till it consumes us all away”. I’m a big fan of bands having a political message, now I don’t know for sure if it was their intention, but I hear a lot of them sprinkled here and there throughout the story. Again, like on all of the songs actually, everything sounds so good, the drums, the bass, the electric guitar solos and the low clean vocals all come together making this another highlight of the album.

January gave us a lot of good records but none come close to this one. The refreshing take on sludge and progressive makes this a definite album of the year contender and is without a doubt, their best album to date! I can’t wait to hear the next one and know what happens to The Dreamer.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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