Album Review: Loch Vostok – Dystopium
Artist: Loch Vostok (Sweden)
Album: Dystopium (2011)
Genre: Atmospheric Extreme Metal
A gigantic flaming V burns on the cover of Loch Vostok’s latest effort. Together with the urban scene shown in the background, this doesn’t really look like a dystopia, like the album title suggests. Neither does the music sound like a dystopia, it is sleek, elegant and melodic.
This is not completely true, for songs such as Disconnection and A Mission Undivine definitely show some extreme and technical Death Metal influences. Furthermore, most songs incorporate their piece of the Extreme Metal cake in the shape of heavy drum parts and growling vocals, but each song does incorporate clean vocals, melodic guitar and keyboard riffs, and an atmosphere which holds the middle between tension and ease.
The album tells us the story of a search for truth in a pre-apocalyptical world in which corruption and deception, mostly on the part of religious leaders, are the order of the day. It kind of reminds me of The Scorpions’ comeback album Humanity Hour 1, which has a resembling concept.
After listening to the album a few times I still didn’t know what to think of it. In the press release it says that the band “turned up their songwriting skills to the max!” with which I can agree with, but sometimes they encounter a turbo lag in their songwriting skills. Yes, there are a few really good songs on it, such as Repeat Offender, Navigator and In the Wake of Humanity, but others just fly past without one even noticing, which is a shame.
As a raw Black Metal fan, you wouldn’t see me rant about production or quality that quickly, and I have to admit, the record sounds good. But, sometimes I have the feeling that at some points, vocals and keyboards are being overshadowed by drums and guitars. If you have heard Loch Vostok’s first album, know that they are masters at the keys, and that they are able to make an excellent record, without the keys ruining it. On this album though, some songs just have great keyboard sections which don’t come to full expression.
However, this is made up for by excellent musicianship. Both lead and rhythm guitars are great and the vocals are good, they really fit the kind of music. Loch Vostok are labeled Extreme Progressive metal, but I’m not seeing that in the music. The songs are not that long – the title track is the longest with 6:28 – while I do recognize an atmosphere that I find also on the debut of Atmospheric Progressive Metal band Silent Lapse. So, I’d rather label them Atmospheric Extreme Metal.
Another thing which is really good about this album is the variation. Each song sounds different from another and the tone never becomes boring. Adding to that is the perfect combination of brutality and elegancy this album portrays. These things make the listening experience more pleasant, to say the least.
Looking at the very diverse picture this album portrays, I can only come to one conclusion. This album has many great moments and sports great musicianship and songwriting, but the downsides just keep this album from being great or even special.
Even now, after several listens over a certain amount of time, I still can’t come to a proper conclusion. Just for the sake of great songs such as A Mission Undivine, Navigator and Disconnection, I will say that this would’ve been a great EP, but as an album, this just doesn’t come to its full right. It only shows a small spark of the great potential it has and that’s a shame.
My Grade: 7.5/10
Buy this when:
- you’re an atmospheric metal fan, the good songs won’t disappoint you
- you like catchy melodies and brutal rhythms, there are enough of them on this album
- you’re looking for something fresh and new, which won’t bore you after tons of listens