Sunday, May 20, 2012

Reviews: Lago "Marianas"

By: Garviel Loken

Where the paths of old school death metal and modern death metal intersect in the hottest part of the infernal regions, you will find the hyrbid creature known as Lago. This is no conjecture or idle speculation, but established fact. Not convinced? Well, sit your heretical ass down and listen to the "Marianas EP" for proof.

Launching out of the speakers like the barbarian hordes of antiquity, the title track roars with sinister guitar riffs, fluent lead parts, and punishing drums in a relentless death metal fashion that sits right up there with the best practitioners of this unholy art. Check out the cool slow section at about two minutes into the song that segues into a mighty guitar part that could make Cannibal Corpse proud. The following track, Youma, features more cool guitar leads and shows more variety in the vocal department with high pitched screams against the low growl of the main vocals.

The remaining tracks, Arbitrary Conflict and Center of a Wounded Nation, showcase that Lago can more than competently employ all the devices in the death metal toolbox and write memorable riffs and keep their music interesting with tempo changes and dynamic shifts, instead of just going at your ears at 240 bpm the whole time to prove how "brutal" they can be, which is a nasty quagmire that a lot of bands in this genre tend to get stuck in. Another thing that makes Lago standout from the AZ death metal crowd is the fifth and final track on their EP, a cover of a His Hero Is Gone song, Headless/Heartless. Though only a two minute song, the band does a faithful version. This reviewer has never actually heard someone cover this beloved band, and never expected to hear a death metal band do it, so it was indeed a pleasant surprise.

EP recordings can be a transitional phase for a lot of bands, they sometimes function to bridge the gaps between what was and what will be, and that seems to be the case with this effort by Lago after repeated listens. There are plenty of aspects about their music that stand out immediately upon hearing the tunes. The rhythm and lead guitar work is first rate, there is overall good songwriting present, and there are talented musicians pulling it off.

The only thing really lacking is an extra dose of fire in the execution. The vocals just don't have the presence and personality that make a difference, they are a little flat and one dimensional across the breadth of the songs. Another wart, albeit a small one, is the the way the songs on this recording end. The tracks don't have any audible punctuation or dynamic glory at the end within their writing structure, they just stop. Songs that forcefully end make them more memorable. Again, it all comes down to adding a bit more energy to the process, that extra aggressive push. Besides these miniscule issues, Lago have demonstrated that they have the key ingredients in place with the "Marianas EP", and this listener looks forward to what they can accomplish on future releases.

Final Score: 7/10

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