Let's call this a peace offering, or rather, a score deservedly achieved. Locrian and Sparrow had a bit of a scuffle when we canned their last two releases. They just didn't work for this reviewer, sounding essentially like 'hipster dark ambient' and all of the animosity and stereotyping the association would assume. The black metal-type features were overly simplistic and took raw to the point of rancid. Kind of like Pitchfork reviewing the latest Revenge album like it was something new. Sorry, that kind of black metal has existed under your hip radar for about thirty years. And the noise noise noise was as immature and out of place/time as that reference (The Grinch, by the way). For their next release, The Crystal World, we compared it to the eating of candy circus peanuts with all of the aftertaste and troubling texture. The direction was there, just not the ability to put it together, mainly due to a lack of good riffs. The ideas were buds of a mighty tree now blooming, so it's nice we don't have to worry about a flame war up in heah because this limited LP is worth it. Dig the minimalist cover, too. It's still obvious other reviewers out there have some sort of weird hang-up about Locrian and don't seem to really know much about the underground, and if you glance around at some other reviews of this very 7" we're considering you'll find everything from glittering generalities that don't mean anything to empty, over-expressive analogies. We'll try to avoid this annoying writing style just for you.
It's not too clear exactly what this is titled, but due to its limited nature and only possessing two tracks, Dort ist der Weg/Frozen in Ash will have to do. The first track, "Dort ist der Weg" is a reinterpretation of a song by the German band Popul Vuh, which got its name from the Mayan creation legend. But, let's assume we'll start this review without any background. "Dort ist der Weg" creates a wonderfully complex and beautiful atmosphere on very few instruments, finding its true soul through female vocals. Of course, this is a cover, but if we go back and consider the original, there's a clear difference. If this is indeed Locrian at their most pure, as others are suggesting, then where in the hell were they before this? No complaints, it's basically a perfect track. You can find ramblings from other reviewers that cover the niceties, so let's skip it. The second half of the release is an original track entitled "Frozen in Ash" which sounds a lot more like the Locrian Deaf Sparrow encountered before, sans peanuts (read above). You have a mix of black metal (to a small extent), ambient, and a bit of noise, in spite of how much people want to say you "can't" categorize them. The basis is driven using pretty traditional means. But, in comparison to earlier work, these guys have definitely pulled ahead. In spite of the repetition of the riff provided and the lo-fi quality, Locrian have managed to create a sound that builds up without losing the listener.
Still, in comparison to "Dort ist der Weg", which isn't completely a Locrian song to begin with, "Frozen in Ash" loses its pride at times. Mainly the opening, where the dark, cavernous build filled with screams sounds like the same format again. But by the end this is definitely much better than their two prior releases. It has the same expansive, dark ambient quality, but it seems this time around Locrian has found a way to successfully merge the styles they were only superficially dabbling in before. This is likely due to the excellent riff that carries the majority of the sound on the track. It's not as strong as "Dort ist der Weg", but as a whole this 7" displays just what one would hope for from this band. Lots of interesting layers to find through each listen, and it gives one hope they've finally achieved the praise they deserve. We pride ourselves here at Deaf Sparrow for representing the underrepresented, and sometimes we get bite-back when we abuse something more well-known, provided it deserves it, so let's say this is a step in the right direction and hope Locrian continue on the fine path they've reached in this release. Then, we can be friends.
Written by Arkus