Locusts and Honey – Teach Me to Live That I Dread the Grave as Little as My Bed


London-based funeral doom duo, Locusts and Honey, formed in 2023 to give expression to their love of early 90s doom, atmospheric black metal, and dark ambient music. As the vision of multi-instrumentalist, Tomás Robertson, the music finds its voice with the presence of Stephen Murray at the microphone. For their debut EP, they present one 28-minute composition split into six parts and take the discovery of the Iron Age cadavers of Ireland and Denmark as their inspiration.

All music should create a sense of place, and Locusts and Honey do not struggle in this regard. Opener, ‘Surfeit of Lampreys’, emerges with a deadpan drone and provides the backdrop for a ruminating clean guitar to pluck the single notes like keys to a machine of which nobody can remember how to operate. Your ears will detect a drizzly rain in the background biding its time before the storm arrives. Mogwai have made a career out of playing music like this. We must wait until track two, ‘Leathern Cord’, for the first power chord to spill out of the amps like pus from an infected flesh wound. Yet there’s a solemnity to it rather than a gratuitous violent intent. The drums count the beats on the hi hat and take their time to lay down the kick and snare combination. Listen to the reverb echo in the mix like a person trapped in the abyss. The vocals are just as distant, but that suits the mood of the music. Imagine Lycia as a funeral doom band.

Robertson laces his riffs with high pressure distortion like Unsane if you asked them to play doom metal. This music does not bore you, but it bores into your head like a patient drill that takes its time to get under your skin. Who remembers when Anathema wrote music like this? ‘Confraternities of the Cord’ promises a modicum of melody underneath the blanket of smothering guitar gain. The chords sound like slow splashes of rain. You can glimpse a shade of pastel colouring in this song. Listen to the hum of the distorted bass – it’s enough to make your throat muscles contract. By contrast, ‘Beauty and Atrocity’ unleashes the first sign of an animated tempo with incorporeal noise guitars and inhumane growl vocals.

This music is the definition of atmospheric doom – Robertson could be playing simple fifth chords, but the layering and pedal effects give the guitars an extra dimension. Hark how the swirling amp loops drift like clouds of ash in ‘Damnation Memoriae’ as a quiet guitar frets the single notes underneath in a sauntering movement. Locusts and Honey achieve two things at the climax of this record – they define atmospheric metal as something you can grasp, and they live up to the self-description of their music as cinematic. How often can we say that the future looks bright for a funeral doom artist?


Verdict


Release Date: 24/05/2024

Record Label: Hypaethral Records

Standout tracks: Leathern Cord, Confraternities of the Cord

Suggested Further Listening: Esoteric – Subconscious Dissolution into the Continuum (2004), Oldblood – Arms to the Sky EP (2020), Atavist – III Absolution (2020)