|Title:||A Subtler Kind Of Light|
|Label:||I, Voidhanger Records|
I can't hide my curiosity when I learned about the debut release by the Greek duo Locust Leaves at the beginning of 2017. The project was born back in 2003 and has more or less worked in the shadows since, only conceding us a small window in 2012 thanks to the very intriguing "Promise", part of the split release with Athenian one-man band Spectral Lore.
After having worked with the aforementioned Greek solo project, the Italian label I, Voidhanger Records must have discovered the duo with great interest. Its two members — Helm (music) and Nick K. (vocals) — have often highlighted their will to release the album only when they were fully satisfied with the final result, without rushing it because of some deadline. Their work on this debut album went from 2013 to 2016 and has seen, among other things, the cooperation with Ayloss himself (Spectral Lore) at lead guitars, Vorskaath (Zemial, Agatus) at drums and Gemeinschaft Triste at the helm of the ambience of the atmospheric final track.
This was the backstory to "A Subtler Kind Of Light", which welcomes us with a spectacular black and white artwork and quite a minimalist design on the CD. The entire booklet is structured as some sort of a graphic novel, that I recommend you read while you listen to the record's four chapters for a better contextualization. The song titles are written in both English and Greek following the story, and all illustrations were designed by Helm himself.
So we get to the music, and it is great music indeed. Locust Leaves make it clear straight away that they want to try literally everything, with odd time signatures, guitar leads that go from catchy to abstruse and back, and especially the incredible vocal performance by Nick K. (at times reminding me of Mike Patton's versatility). There sure is some black metal, but this definition really feels too narrow to describe the Greek duo's work, as they go on to explore many styles (ranging from thrash to doom and beyond), while still managing to maintain a strong musical and conceptual coherence throughout the four songs. This record is so well-made and consistent that at the end its thirty-five minutes might feel a tad too short, but then again a longer work might have affected the general cohesion of its concept.
I can easily say that my 2017 in metal has finally found its first true big deal in Locust Leaves' debut album, which arrived as we have seen after several years of work out of the spotlight. This was both a potentially very relevant addition to the lively Greek scene, and yet another proof of I, Voidhanger Records' value.