by Eduardo Rivadavia
After several years of conducting one-off musical experiments, oftentimes issued in limited numbers and unconventional formats like vinyl, cassette, or CD-R (or not at all), Chicago's Locrian finally felt ready to record their debut album in 2009's Drenched Lands. But that decision hardly spelled the end of the group's restless musical shape-shifting, as evidenced by the brusque textural disconnect between each of the album's songs (and the art of seamless "sequencing" be damned), beginning with its brief, minimal, and melancholy opening gambit, "Obsolete Elegy in Effluvia and Dross," and its protracted, slowly escalating noise-drone follow-up, "Ghost Repeater." Even by post-metal standards, the pair just don't line up -- on paper -- yet they ultimately make sense in the decontextualized "anything goes" mentality displayed throughout Drenched Lands. This proceeds via always unexpected detours into atmospheric black metal ("Barren Temple Obscured by Contaminated Fogs"), church organ reverie-cum-doomy power chord misery ("Epicedium"), and assiduous feedback sculpting over tolling bells and scything guitar staccatos ("Obsolete Elegy in Cast Concrete"). Technically, Drenched Lands concludes here, but a 30-minute-long bonus offering entitled "Greyfield Shrines" (previously released on vinyl, but virtually impossible to find) reveals what Locrian can do to connect their eclectic creative interests when they choose to, and the terrifyingly cinematic results, climaxing in a mechanical primal scream, are truly awesome to behold. And, as it turned out, Locrian's virginal foray into full-length territory opened a virtual floodgate of inspiration that yielded another pair of very impressive (and largely uncategorizable) albums within a year, those being 2010's Territories and The Crystal World.