For Rochester, NY based two-piece doom metal band Mavradoxa, everything in their sound seems to inhabit a lingering sense of cataclysm.
Turns out that the first impression of Lethean Lament is the right one. Take just one glance at the song list and their sophomore effort looks like a marathon of an album, those six tracks totaling just over an hour. That number is deceiving though, considering that the first “Cicadan” a dark acoustic intro clocks at less than four minutes and the last less than two. The middle sprawl is comprised of four majestic, atmospheric doom metal tracks that draw more on a wealth of curiosity around mood and tone than strung together beads in a continuous nightmare.
On guitar and bass, Nival charges out of the gate on the second track, “The Phantom Visages” one of the fiercer pieces. The chords are punishing and the bleak vocals that sit up front are suitably anguished. The grimy centerpiece of the album (and what might be the “single” here) is “Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame” a smutty bead that runs upward of eighteen minutes spun off of an epic instrumental build up. The patiently written acoustic intro eventually collapses into crushing riffs and a cascade of rattling vocals that are at once vibrant and unsettling before the gradual run out. On “Across the Nival Grove” they reprise the strings from track one, lending complexity and depth to the album’s most abrasive leads. Perhaps less compelling is the penultimate track, “From Fog” which feels a little out of breath, wrapping some folk metal elements in, although its excesses are earned and, on its own, the track stands as fairly decent.
Mavradoxa ends on a short, “Metanoia” the second introspective acoustic instrumental. The bookends keeps the sense that Lethean Lament is about something out in front of me, a cycle or life process greater than the sum of its parts perhaps, although I cannot quite put my finger on what that is. It really doesn’t matter though. The main tracks are dense and display a unique gift for dynamic, heavy songwriting, each one suggestive of a unique world and the band ultimately comes off as confident enough to let their peerless sense of tonal curiosity lead.
Lethean Lament can push on a lot of neo-metal-head buttons at once, while not necessarily trying too hard to push on the boundaries and the result is a must listen.