They emerged from the dark. They shook up the music scene as we knew it. They spread musical waves over unseen territory. Just a mere couple of years ago, Loathe invaded the scene with their debut EP Prepare Consume Proceed. Their unorthodox sounds and imagery made every listener's head turn, whether it was through praise or disgust. About five years later and the band is still spreading their roots even further and further, with many hailing the Liverpool with pundits on high. After the impressive debut album The Cold Sun they now offer their cryptically titled follow-up record, I Let It In And It Took Everything.
As we know from Loathe, it's best to expect the unexpected. After a brief introduction in ‘Theme’, the band kicks the album off with crunching riffs and shrieking noise in the form of ‘Aggressive Evolution’. The amalgamation of everything is what defines Loathe, with the extremely heavy verses blending perfectly with the more melodic choruses. Stylistically, every piece of the musical puzzle takes the shape of the most intense thing imaginable for it. The track that follows, ‘Broken Vision Rhythm’, is a fast paced barrage of organised chaos. Occasionally a tad bit dramatic but overall beautifully unhinged. There's a lot going on in the overall intensity of tracks like these that resonate with chaotic bands like The Chariot that went before them.
Where this record differentiates itself from The Cold Sun is the large amount of melodic and emotive moments. There's plenty of songs and interludes that give the listener some time to breathe between the crushing intensity. These make the album as a whole feel more balanced and accessible, as we heard in the surprisingly ethereal single ‘Two-Way Mirror’. Tracks like ‘New Faces In The Dark’ offer a stark contrast, which creates an odd sense of tension and excitement. You just never know what you're going to be greeted with next. Whether it is a skin melting breakdown, an avalanche of noise, an ambient synthesizer section or even some acoustic guitars - everything and anything could get shoved right into your face. It feels like this highly experimental approach shouldn't work, yet it nearly always does.
Between the eerie spoken word samples and the disorienting riffs, Loathe's dream duo Kadeem France and Erik Bickerstaffe deliver plenty of phenomenal vocal performances all around. ‘Screaming’ starts off sounding like the most radio-friendly track you could possible expect from this band - topping even ‘Two-Way Mirror’ - but the violent screams can't stay away. ‘Is It Really You’ continues this trend of Deftones-esque material, but this time to the point where it almost sounds like a ballad. When the band turns the heat back up for ‘Gored’, the transition is anything but subtle. As arguably one of the very best Loathe pieces, it summarises everything you would associate with Loathe perfectly. The chaotic rhythms, unexpected tempo shifts and the odd yet iconic quantised vocal scream in the middle of the song. Very interestingly, the track ‘Heavy Is The Head That Falls With The Weight Of A Thousand Thoughts’ might be one of the only songs ever that can start off with a pure black metal blast beat section and end with an acoustic guitar without anything feeling remotely out of place.
Everything about this record feels refreshing, surprising, unpredictable and unformulated. It's a relatively long ride, approaching almost 50 minutes in length. Despite this, there's rarely a moment that doesn't demand your attention. After the title track that closes the record, it only leaves you wanting more. It's a perfectly balanced album with extremes pushed to the max on every possible angle. Loathe enters near-masterpiece territory with this creation, and yet it only feels like the beginning.
I Let It In And It Took Everything is released February 7th via SharpTone Records
Loathe will be touring this month in support of I Let It In And It Took Everything alongside Phoxjaw, God Complex and The Well Runs Red. Dates below.