Lycanthia: Oligarchy

Sometimes we kind of have this “thing” for Gothic metal, especially of the black variety, or perhaps with a touch of “the doom” for extra thickness.  When properly combined these things create  a tragic beast.  It’s the kind of thing denied by God as something which may exist, the kind of thing that gets you into trouble more often than not.  When you have such a thing in your possession, it can skew the way you view the world, it can turn everything, in this case, to a black dress and cover it in eyeliner, forgetting it’s God damned 80+ degrees out.  We’ll take that heat reference to be a metaphorical consideration of how people normally tend to view you if you admit your thing is “the Gothic,” or if you dress the part.  We definitely don’t dress the part around here, not usually, but it’s something we occasionally admit to enjoying if we’re feeling melancholic.  That means we are at the moment totally engaged in finding sadness in everything.  Lycanthia is one Hell of a seasoned band, with a career stretching almost two decades.  Typically, this isn’t the of music you expect to be coming out of Australia, somewhere it’s warmer and there’s nothing really to mourn over other than sharks and salt-water crocodiles.  Luckily, we do not need to add to that list of complaints this album.  Overall, some great Gothic metal here.

Oligarchy is Gothic metal on its way to being perfect Gothic metal, it’s just not there entirely.  Yeah, we know, these guys have been around, but we’re referring to this particular release.  The artwork deserves mention as it’s pretty clever, or at least we think so, combining at once symbolic imagery of female genitalia while making from it a hooded menace in darkness.  That may, however, be simply how our depraved minds are viewing what is intended to be something else.  This is what happens when we don’t have friends.  Anyway, what’s unusual about this one is, honestly, it sounds like it’s going to suck hard for a short duration with no resolution.  There’s an atmosphere to it, at first, which seems superficial, but this is quickly destroyed within a brief minute or two.  Lycanthia has an incredible, neigh an awesome grasp of their instruments and their ability to write.  This album is filled, bursting, exploding, dying from the amount of riffage to be found.  Strangely, it seems to take a few minutes to really feel it, it’s not something immediate, but by the end it’s catching like a melancholic disease.


So, yeah, great stuff here, speaking largely musically, however.  The main vocalists, Megan Robins and Vanessa Black, have excellent, we repeat, excellent delivery.  Whichever one is at the head, we’re not entirely sure since there are two of them, has carry with a wide range and vibrancy absolutely required for clean vocals.  Also worth mention is the violin throughout; absolutely killer, dirge-like, turning your entire life into one big lament without a single flower.  It pieces it all together nicely.  It’s like what you expect out of the majority of Theatre des Vampires’ output but rarely find other than maybe “Lady in Black,” but unfortunately that one reeks of several fine cheeses at once.  Lycanthia, however, have their poetic sound down, there’s just one thing, and that’s the screaming.  Lee Tassaker, the male vocalist, helps to unfortunately bring some of it down.  Now, trust us, there’s absolutely nothing wrong at all with harsh vocals over this kind of music, it can add a nice touch.  But here, it’s way too much touch, it’s so much touch you’re ready to file for harassment.  Tassaker has very little, if any, alteration in his harshness.  It all sounds the same, it could even be the same, and the “very little” part we’re simply giving as a benefit of doubt, because really we can’t remember a second where he does anything different.  With clean vocals, that’s possible, but for harshness, which sometimes covers the beauty of Oligarchy, it needs variety to keep it stable.  He’s good at what he does, sure, he just does too much of it in this release with too much redundancy.  Still, as far as we’ve seen with Gothic metal, this is still a fine one to check out.


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Written by Stanley Stepanic

Lycanthia: Oligarchy
Hypnotic Dirge Records
4 / 5