Metal is often a genre of more – more volume, more speed, more sound, more faces melted. And while that’s a great thing, it’s a nice change to see a band try for less – to slow down, turn everything down, and let their ideas speak for themselves. That’s what Construct of Lethe has done here with their new album, ‘Exiler,’ and the result is a sophisticated yet brutal album.
The opening track, Rot of Augury, kicks off with a taster of the best this band has to offer. The opening is soft and melancholy with almost a bluesy edge. This is our first taste of lead guitarist Patrick Bonvin’s work, and it’s a good one. Bonvin blends technical chops, gorgeous expression, and a fantastic clear tone that lets his melodies shine. Frankly, all of the tones on this album are spot-on. According to guitarist/bassist/writer Tony Petrocelly, ‘Exiler’ was written for three guitars, and yet it never feels overstuffed or hard to hear any of the layers. The band members have even helpfully put gear guides on Facebook, in case any other Metal musicians want to borrow from their tone, and I hope many do.
Up next is A Testimony of Ruin, a solemn and straightforward tune, followed by The Clot, the lead single from ‘Exiler.’ They’re great songs, but both are a bit clichéd in spots. They’re heavy on riffs, and of all the musical elements in this album, the riffs tend to be the least creative. My biggest gripe is that even by growling standards, vocalist David Schmidt can be pretty tough to understand. It’s a shame, because the band’s lyrics are poetic and stuffed to the brim with layers of mythological and historical reference. Fortunately, they’re up on Bandcamp, so you can follow along, but while you’re there you should really take a moment to appreciate the artwork too. The album art and lyrics really complement the melancholy, otherworldly atmosphere the band develops through the album. The band’s decision to pick the 19th century painting The Sea of Acheron as their album art is a stroke of genius, rewarding the curious with a glimpse into ‘Exiler’’s psyche.
Getting back to the music, though, Sourorboros picks up again with more lead guitars, and it’s fantastic. Schmidt pulls back on the harshness of his growl towards the end of this song too, and it’s a welcome touch that lets the lyrics be heard better – I wish he’d done more work in that style.
Unfortunately, the following track, Fugue State, is a weak spot on this record. Instead of the typical growls, the band chooses to speak the bulk of the lyrics in a creepy monotone, only employing more traditional growls later in the song. Musically, this track is brutal, dark, and menacing, but it doesn’t feel as creative as the other tracks. At seven minutes, it’s also just a little too droning and long. Luckily the band follows it with Terraces of Pugation, which is also slow and heavy, but with great leads sprinkled throughout and a killer guest performance by Enrico H. Di Lorenzo (Hideous Divinity). ‘Exiler’ closes with Fester in Heyschasm, which brings power.
In conclusion, ‘Exiler’ could probably have been a little stronger musically, but as a whole – music, lyrics, and art- it’s a beautifully conceived and executed piece. Come for the avant-garde Death Metal, stay for the whole vision, and stick around to see what Construct of Lethe does next.
CONSTRUCT OF LETHE’S ‘EXILER’ IS OUT JUNE 20TH. PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY FROM BANDCAMP HERE!