Locrian's previous album Drenched Lands was an impressive combination of guitar and keyboard improvisations carrying elements of drone, noise and pitch-black industrial ambience together with a slight nod towards black metal. With Territories the core duo Andre Foisy and Terence Hannum further develop their blackened atmospherics aided by an expanded line-up, featuring fellow Chicago based musicians including Mark Solotroff (Bloodyminded and proprietor of BloodLust! label), Blake Judd (Nachtmystium), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and Andrew Scherer (Velnias).
Right from the off you're surrounded by the controlled feedback squeals and electronic pulses of 'Inverted Ruins'. It carries over the Locrian sound of Drenched Lands but the presence of the collaborators is obvious; in the distant holler of Solotroff and the simple rock styled drum pounding from Andrew Scherer. The doom pace is filled with stuttering synthesiser howls and industrial ambience ebbing out on pulselike throbs. The static buzz drone of 'Between Barrows', punctuated by short bursts of crashing cymbal rolls, is accompanied by some restrained sax blurt and further on it picks up some sustained tense organ drone.
Drenched Lands featured some stark and skeletal guitar work and that makes a welcome reappearance on 'Antediluvian Territory', the only track restricted to the core duo of Andre Foisy and Terence Hannum. Here spiralling shards of guitar are played off against ominous organ drone. It is wonderful stuff and way too brief. It's an approach I hope they pursue on future releases.
And while there's elements of noise throughout Territories there's a definite power electronics feel to the opening minutes of 'Ring Road' with Solotroff's haranguing holler over wavering shrill feedback and monstrous low-end roar. It doesn't stay too long in power electronics mode as it gradually leads into dense churning electronics, with some guitar improvisation and crackling textures.
One of the pivotal tracks of Territories, 'Procession of Ancestral Brutalism' starts quietly with feint feedback squeals and industrial ambience before upping the stakes with scorching black metal riffing, powerhouse drumming and screamed black hole aggro vocals spat out by Solotroff, Judd, Lamont and Hannum. 'Procession of Ancestral Brutalism' is inspired and dynamic like black metal filtered through the noise-rock of Zeni Geva or something. It may be black metal but with Locrian it is direct and resolutely shorn of the ideology or cliché.
I guess much will be written about the black metal influenced tracks on Territories but the focus of Locrian remains very much on improvisation. If it's black metal you're seeking then I'm afraid you're gonna have to wade through a lot of black atmospherics to get there. Just listen to the shared guitar improvisations that comprise the opening minutes of 'The Columnless Arcade' before it cuts to the surging metal riffing, martial snare drum rolls and distant tortured screamed vocals. As ever it doesn't wallow too long in one place as Locrian cast their net wide trawling through wigged out terrain casting off elements of black metal with post-rock tunings into dense psychedelic murk.
Given the amount of collaborators here Locrian never lose their identity; their sound is never engulfed by the collaborators. Territories is very much a Locrian record. All the hallmarks of their sound, as evidenced on their previous Drenched Lands release, can be found here. This time though with the aid of the collaborators they've been able to further explore areas only tentatively pursued before. Anyone interested in drone/doom sonics and noise/power electronics would be foolish to miss this as Territories is something of an avant metal drone fest. It's also a blast. As prolific as they are Locrian are running on a very low shit quotient and I'm already looking forward to wherever they go next. Great stuff. Released via the labels At War With False Noise, Basses Frequences, Bloodlust! And Small Doses on vinyl in an edition of 500 copies in and now on CD. For more information go to www.atwarwithfalsenoise.com or www.bassesfrequences.org or bloodlust.blogspot.com or www.small-doses.com