The links between heavy metal, harsh noise and dark electronic drone should come as no surprise. Some of the best black metal records, after all, feel like half-still sonic smears, and the control of or chaos in feedback has inspired legions in every form. Even if the means are distinct, each of those genres revels in musical viscosity—who can be the heaviest, the meanest, the most exhausting with their sound? But few artists have exploited those intersections as vividly and explicitly as the aggressive, interstitial Chicago duo Locrian.
As Locrian, André Foisy and Terrence Hannum—and a constant flux of peers and friends—have been prolific for about four years, releasing a deluge of proper albums, CD-Rs, 7” records, cassettes and even an 8-track. But Locrian’s two 2010 LPs—Territories, a split release by four different labels, and The Crystal World, due in November on Utech Records—have pushed the band from the upstart experimental fringes into the domain of must-hears. Alternately eerie and irascible, Territories gets didactic in its exploration of those divides. On an 11-minute storm with the appropriately daunting name “Procession of Ancestral Brutalism,” Locrian gathers black metal ringleader Blake Judd of Nachtmystium, heavy metal saxophonist Bruce Lamont and power electronics legend Bruce Solotroff for one destructive trip. An exploration of clashing tones and structures, it’s one of the year’s most vivid, ponderous pieces of music, proclaiming possibilities for exploration rather than suggesting them. The Crystal World softens the focus a bit, scattering ghastly howls and relentless drums beneath walls of sound that seem to suffocate and swirl without ever really doing either. During closer “Elevators and Depths,” Locrian even adds circular acoustic guitar and violin. They wrap those layers around howls and noise that suggest an exorcism. It’s the sound of suspect redemption.
Locrian will share the stage at Hopscotch with Chapel Hill’s Horseback; after their Thursday night show, the bands will head into the studio together to record a forthcoming collaborative 7”. —Grayson Currin