There are often two ways for a band to improve over time – get more focused or get weirder, and The Lion’s Daughter somehow did both on their second full-length, Future Cult. The St. Louis-based metal act transformed from a blackened post-metal act in their debut to a blackened John Carpenter score (or sludgy synthwave, if you prefer) on album number two.

‘Twas quite the leap, but the band were able to stick the landing due to a surprisingly great concept and even better execution. I raved about the album here, actually, saying: “The act’s blackened take on audio violence has certainly morphed over the years, but this latest batch of, as the band self-labels, ‘unpleasant’ music, is something else, fresh and horrifying in a league of its own. Future Cult features some of the most mystifyingly surreal art this side of a David Lynch work, and the mix of blackened sludge and (no joke) Satanic synthwave is about as subtle as a neon-encrusted knife to the jugular.”

Thankfully, what’s changed between Future Cult and Skin Show is less an abrupt sonic shift and more of a sharpening and reimagining – think of it along the lines of the change between Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. If Future Cult were all musical terror all the time, then Skin Show feels more nuanced and multi-faceted.

It’s also, like, Evil Dead aware of what works and willing to be playful.For one, the types of metal here are much more varied: “Snakeface” is psychedelic post-metal; “Become the Night” is early-career Mastodon-meets-evil-Stranger Things, and “Curtains” and “Werewolf Hospital” are some of the catchiest sludge this side of Red Fang, albeit with a thread of atmospheric horror beneath the surface. “Sex Trap” is reminiscent of some of the band’s earlier dissonant greatness, albeit with a full technicolor view, while “The Chemist” is a chilling blackened death coda to the record.

Secondly, and this is key to the album’s success, the synth sections are much more varied and engaging. While they were fine on Future Cult, there was definitely the sense that certain section repeated throughout while the “metal” portions of the songs changed. Here, that couldn’t be more distinct. Genuinely impressive synth arrangements abound, recalling The Exorcist, Carpenter, and even Suspiria. Hell, so much of the alluring yet haunting feel of this record gives the impression that The Lion’s Daughter are the modern Goblin, a progressive musical maelstrom, scoring our gorgeous nightmares.

All of this is to say, The Lion’s Daughter went from great ideas done well to phenomenal experiments performed excellently. Everything about their last record has improved here, revealing a singular focus and fear-inducing fun. Beware all ye who press play, but I certainly do recommend you do listen post-haste.

Order the record at this location.

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