Lo! – ‘The Gleaners’ [Album Review]

Review : Benjamin Coe

Australian premier sludge metallers Lo! are really carving a name for themselves with each passing release and the accolades keep on coming with their latest blistering offering The Gleaners. Spread across 9 relentless sonic assaults, the quartet have heavily cemented themselves in the pantheon of heavy music.

Opening with the brief but brutal Our Fouling Larder, whose eerie beginnings quickly give way to absolute chaos, Lo! make their mission clear from the get-go. Front man Sam Dillon bellows and roars his way through the first track in impeccable style before Salting the Earth comes bounding in with its quick riffs and punishing rhythms courtesy of guitarist and chief songwriter Carl Whitbread and the pounding rhythm section of bassist Adrian Shapiro and drummer Adrian Griffin.

Shapiro shines with some of the dirtiest bass lines you’ll hear (see the bridge section of Salting The Earth, you’ll know it when you hear it!) backed by some outstanding drum work from Griffin. Whether it’s the blasting beats of Rat King or the more subdued Pareidolia, these two prove time and time again that they’re not just one-trick ponies.

And while we’re on the subject of musicianship, something has to be said about the insane guitar work across all nine tracks. It’s dark, it’s sludgy but at the same time it has a melody that keeps you entwined in its intricacies. The previously mentioned Pareidolia is a perfect example of the contrast on offer here, with its atmospheric guitar noodling providing a beautiful juxtaposition to the brutality that permeates throughout the majority of this release.

The epic title track The Gleaners is a clear standout. It’s soft, spoken-word intro quickly descends into utter madness with heavily chugging guitars and bass backing a brutal vocal performance from Sam Dillon as he spills out his frustration and anger towards and ever-increasingly unfair world. Standing at just over 8 minutes this track never once loses the listener, keeping you fully engaged from the first note to the very last.

And it doesn’t let up from there! Kleptoparasite kicks things up another notch heading into the back end of the album before Cannibal Culture heralds the end times with its prominent drum beat that will have you banging your head in solidarity before the closing track Mannon’s Horn comes to firmly plant its foot on your neck for the next 7 minutes, ensuring you’re left gasping for air.

If you’re a fan of German metal titans The Ocean, then Lo! are definitely for you. They come at you with energy and ferocity with small flourishes of intricate beauty that provide short moments of reprieve from the absolutely punishing aural assault that is The Gleaners.

LO! –  ‘The Gleaners’ is out April 7 via Pelagic Records.