Laudanum are a 3 piece band. I opened with that sentiment solely because once you hear what they do it becomes hard to believe. What Laudanum do musically is act as a noisey power electronics group that decided to play doom metal or vice versa. Everything is grimey, filthy and painful in Laudanum's collective world. This almost acts as someone embracing the disruptive urban landscape they come from in Oakland.
This album takes advantage of everything that makes one's stomach stir and shudder. As stated this is crust punk filthy and brutal as hell. The band takes advatage of playing a heavier style of music by relying on the spaces between riffs to build tension and fear within the listener. The intro acts as a sensory disruption with a build up of white noise and electronic loops leading nowhere. This makes for a wonderful introduction for what the listener can expect for the rest of the LP.
The rest of the album makes for a strong sludgey doom metal record. Mind you, the band has nods to everything from crust punk, noise, black metal and just about any other sub genre of metal you can think of outside of delving into power metal. The best compliment one could give is the band creates large structure for each of these sub genre points to reside. This allows each riff or noise to flow in and out. While the album as a whole is overbearing to the senses (in the best way) nothing seems to fit poorly in the song structures.
The vocals tend to get used sparingly. While the music is strong and the vocals prove unecessary most of the time they help to push the overall aesthetic of the LP. The two vocalists create a brutal counterpoint for each. The female screamer screeches in and out of songs sounding beyond desperate and conveying a certain hopelessness. Meanwhile, the male singer growls his way through each part sounding more traditionally death metal and bringing a sense of evil to each song. I feel that these vocals could be used to a greater degree. In a way this could temper the overwhelming unsettling aesthetic that the music carries.
What we get in this LP is a full fledged album. Not once does this give off the idea that it wasn't created as a full thought out structure. While i can't name a particular song to look out for I can say with absolute certainty that 20 Buck Spin has given us another great metal band that could've flown under the radar. I look forward to what Laudanum decides to do next. This band could pretty much go anywhere within metal, industrial, noise, and most other loud music sub genres and be not only competent but outright great at it.
Note: since recording Laudanum has become a 4 piece touring unit.
9.3 / 10
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