Lions of Tsavo: Traverser

When using the Google machine to research these lads, the Wikipedia page for the actual lions of Tsavo appears. The story is rather brutal and suits the music well. Back in the day when they were building a railroad over the Tsavo River in Kenya, the British led by Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, two lions attacked at night and managed to kill an estimated 135 people (but blessed science proves later that the real figures were around 35 but still fucking brutal). Despite all efforts by the workers to deter the lions from attacking them by building perimeter fires and thorn fences nothing could stop them. It wasn’t until several attempts to ambush and shoot the lions by Patterson that they were killed.  And this is only after wounding them on several occasions. The lions are now stuffed and are at the Chicago Field Museum (after being Patterson’s floor rugs for 25 years). Thank you Wikipedia and fuck all institutions who dislike Wikipedia as a source.


This genre is kind of hard to pin down. At times, they pull Remission-era Mastodon with progressive sludgy roots and a dash of hard blues and at other times, hardcore-tinged black metal. They label themselves as progressive death but the death influences are small and perhaps better suited for past albums but not Traverser. As a trio, the technicality will suffer one way or another as multitasking during live performances becomes harder. In this case, the vocalist is also the guitarist and it’s clear because the guitars get kind of boring in some songs like “Chemotroph” and “Permafrost.. In others he does fine but it isn’t worth getting the hoots for. His screams, though, are great and provide the black metal elements but the problem is that during some moments his cleans try too hard to imitate Mastodon and fall short of capturing that same feel. To be fair, Mastodon is pretty hard to imitate in vocal performance. The bass guitar is too low which is a shame because when you’re in a trio, you have to have presence. This is another one of those albums that required the bass knob all the way up to feel it out (to the inconvenience and disturbance towards my roommates). Fortunately, the drums do a fine job replicating the name, Lions of Tsavo, and feast on humans. The snare work is nothing to scoff at and would provide a thunderous, rambunctious performance live that might make you reconsider bringing ear plugs to your next show (but you always forget).


What sucks most about this album is the recording quality. The whole sound is muddled and sounds like it was made in a basement. If the recording quality was better, perhaps the bass guitar wouldn’t be the shy guy in the back and the guitar could put some hair on your balls (or ball-chin if you have one). One thing they did really well on is this album art. Holy shit – it’s almost worth busting out cash for vinyl copies with that quality of art assuming the booklet would be sa-weet as well.


 Lions of Tsavo Official Website

Written by Cole Olson

Lions of Tsavo: Traverser
Toxic Assets Records
3 / 5