Artist: The Last Of Lucy
Album Title: Moksha
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Date of Release: 18 February 2022
By all accounts, it doesn’t seem to matter one way or the other whether you’ve been a long-term fan of The Last Of Lucy when it comes to this review. I’m not familiar with them, having been put off a little by their moniker; for me, it’s not exactly one that captures my interest in any kind of powerful manner. In fact, it struck me as more of a deathcore name which, after a little research on their back catalogue isn’t miles off the truth. Nevertheless, having been more and more impressed by the output via Transcending Obscurity Records of late, and because the press release references an overhaul of their sound, I thought I’d take a listen to their latest release, ‘Moksha’.
Apparently, their previous modus operandi was progressive, jazz-infused deathcore. Not so here. On ‘Moksha’, the quartet comprised of vocalist Josh De La Sol, guitarists Gad Gidon and Christian Mansfield, and drummer Brandon Ian Millan have transitioned into a full-on brutal and uncompromising technical death metal band. ‘Moksha’ is a 30-minute whirlwind of savage aural pain, where everything is delivered at whirlwind pace, and maximum aggression, albeit with precision and with great skill. The end result is an album worthy of the attention of those with a penchant towards uncompromising technical death metal.
Not only is it fast, furious, and aggressive, it’s also surprisingly groovy too, with plenty of meaty riffs waiting to get your head moving whether or not you want it too. This is important to me because however violent the music is, I need something beyond that to force me to come back for repeated listens. It could be melody, atmosphere, or groove; anything so long as the album isn’t a one-dimensional affair. In the case of The Last Of Lucy, they’ve opted for groove, and it does work well for the most part. However, the brevity of ‘Moksha’ definitely works in its favour because any longer and I will be honest and admit that my mind would probably wander.
That said, I do like the use of keys to provide a sense of atmosphere too. The opening composition happens to be the title track and it is a potent blast of catchy technical death metal, with warp-speed drumming, powerful riffs, and a sense of depth and added malevolence thanks to the use of synths to bathe the track, albeit unobtrusively in an otherworldly cloak, very much in keeping with the striking artwork for ‘Moksha’, created by Par Olofsson.
With the die cast, the Californians continue in a similar vein for the vast majority of the record, across ten short, sharp cuts that don’t waste any time in bludgeoning anyone brave enough to listen. The more I listen, the more intricacies I can hear. For example, ‘Afterthought’ is one of the most insidiously catchy two minutes and forty-three seconds on the album, with groove that borders on faint melody, with more synth-led atmospherics than I ever heard to begin with.
I’m also a big fan of ‘Ritual Of The Abraxas’ because of the increase in variation within what is the longest track on the album. We actually hear brief sections where the heaviness takes a back seat, allowing more in terms of subtlety, thus increasing the drama and intrigue in the process.
If I had a couple of points of critique, I’d venture to suggest that the production lets the band down just a touch, and at times, the execution by the musicians feels just a little too polished. On the subject of the former, I’d have liked more clarity between the instruments, with the bass pushed too low in the mix, alongside some of the guitar work that doesn’t punch me in the way that it could. As for the latter, I happen to think that a more organic approach would have been welcome; on occasion, the drums and lead guitar runs come across as too slick, thereby lacking character.
Another make or break facet of ‘Moksha’ will be with the vocals. Josh De La Sol has two distinct styles; one higher-pitched, the other a lot lower and more guttural. I’m a fan of the lower growls because I find they are more resonant and commanding, fitting the tone of the music better. I’m less of a fan of his delivery in the higher register because, as good as he is, it comes across as far more abrasive and, actually, a little grating after a while when used more frequently.
It may sound like I don’t really like ‘Moksha’ very much by now. However, that’s not the case at all. If I am being absolutely and completely honest, I will admit that I have heard a handful of technical death metal albums that I have personally enjoyed more in recent months. But that doesn’t mean that The Last Of Lucy with ‘Moksha’ don’t deserve a lot of credit. To reinvent themselves so markedly over the last couple of records takes skill, dedication, and guts. And, if this was a debut album, we’d all be congratulating the quartet for releasing a high-quality opening salvo. I have no doubt that, given time, The Last Of Lucy will come back stronger and even better. In the meantime, take a listen to ‘Moksha’, because it certainly isn’t a waste of your time.
The Score of Much Metal: 75%
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