We reviewed Lament Cityscape’s two precursor EPs earlier in 2020 here and saluted Mike McClatchey’s work on The Old Wet and The Pulsing Wet. ‘Bring on the third EP,’ was our sentiment at the time. Now it’s here and the trilogy complete, it begs the question if our wait was worthwhile.
Mood is everything with Lament Cityscape, and not just the artist’s mental state when creating this record. Your mood as the listener is important to the experience. With new Covid-19 lockdown measures closing everything down once again, the chances are you need the final instalment of the Lament Cityscape trilogy. All that frustration and anxiety gnawing away at you demands an outlet and a musical language to articulate the way you feel. Subdued, impatient, foreboding – this record speaks to every one of those emotions.
As residents of Oakland, it’s inevitable the band’s dark vision of urban decay and the barbarism of the rat race draw on the claustrophobic aggression and agitation of Neurosis. ‘A Rusting Moth’ is how you’d expect the post-metal giants to sound if Trent Reznor asked them to contribute to a post-apocalyptic film score. If you’re familiar with Lament Cityscape, you’ll know the deliberate chasm between the vocals and the microphone are a signature sound, and never have they resonated with as much poignancy. We’re all trapped in our houses and gazing out the window with nostalgic contemplations that annoy us into believing the past used to be beautiful. It didn’t, and neither is this music. The scraping percussive sounds and subtle synth loops at the three-minute mark bore into your skull like incessant drips of water destined to dribble on your forehead for eternity. Listen to the vibrations of those bass guitar notes ringing out with the minimalist dejection of mid-80s Swans. You might pick out the occasional howl of a despairing word or phrase among the layers of distortion. ‘More light!’ could be one of the desperate pleas, but it’s never certain.
‘Among the Dead’ is yet another reminder that Lament Cityscape worship The Downward Spiral by Nine Ince Nails. This song wants to be ‘Reptile’ and almost succeeds. McClatchey’s throat abrasions are clearer in the mix, the melodic nuances more prominent. The guitars pulsate with a metallic texture but never overshadow the mechanised drums or low-end pitch of the bass guitar strings. Yet the song plods towards the end when we need a climax. Those subtle samples of decrepit rotary blades rusting away in a Bakersfield oil well are imaginative but not powerful enough to sustain the attention of the listener.
Fortunately, ‘Coagulant’ is Lament Cityscape at their best. This is progressive industrial music with the agoraphobia of Godflesh squirming through the distant synth patterns. It feels redemptive. You’ll want to spread your arms out in the Christ position and stare at the heavens as the loud guitars and doom metal drums kick in like dispassionate angels granting you a penance their authority does not permit. It raises the question: Why is depressive music like this so immersive?
As we said, mood is everything and you might not be in the right frame of mind for the slow grinding rhythms and numbing ambient effects of Lament Cityscape. This is the sound of the lonely blacksmith defeated by the impersonal forces of globalisation and condemned to a hand-to-mouth existence. It’s tragic yet poignant at the same time.
Release Date: 21/12/2020
Record Label: Self Released
Standout track: Coagulant
Suggested Further Listening: Gridfailure – Sixth Mass-Extinction Skulduggery II (2020), Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile (1999), Godflesh – A World Lit Only by Fire (2014)