On their debut EP “Antique”, Brooklyn four-piece Lighteater have given us an excellent example of a band almost there. This may seem a bit pretentious of me, as if I would assume I could know where it is they are, or should be, going, but the unshakeable impression I get every time I put this one on is that of a dog trying to bite two bones at the same time.
In fact, listening to this album is both encouraging and infuriating, because whether Lighteater want to go for the slow burn of a lumbering post-metal juggernaut or the unpredictable melodic progressions of a more proggy jigsaw puzzle of a song, only making sense when the ride comes to a halt, it’s obvious that they are competent at both. But these two styles very rarely work together from the same artist, on the same album, let alone in the same song, which is why it’s a shame that three of the numbers on this four-song effort attempt to mix these two formulas.
RELEASE DATE: 12 April 2015 LABEL: Self-released
RECOMMENDED TRACK: Tailhook
When Lighteater are at their best, they combine the full-bodied downtempo instrumentation of post-metal with a diverse pallette of sparse, lingering high-register guitar lines, a silver lining to the proverbial cloud. The innate contrast present in this dynamic is left underutilized at times, with a few too many ideas floating around to coherently gel into a unit, leaving the listener with songs that, while at times epic and profound, try to tell too many stories at once.
The tone they seem to be aiming for is thus not quite in reach on “Antique”. In order to be truly effective, post-metal needs a sound that fits a singular backdrop, maneuvering slowly but purposefully through convincingly monotone soundscapes. “Tailhook” achieves this in admirable fashion, starting off reminiscent of meandering Panopticon-era ISIS before it makes a wonderfully unexpected jailbreak, spreading its wings, turning skyward and never looking back. The other three tracks, however, fall somewhat short, unfortunately marred by the aforementioned inconsistency. There are some moments of real beauty here, such as the mid-section of “Flux”, which is again interrupted too soon by a wanton break into sludgy riffing.
“10oz” also falls to the temptation to divide its attention among several melodic pathways subsequently left untouched, only diving into its cavernous depths later on, which unfortunately diminishes the ominous impression on the listener. It ends up a messy hodgepodge of twists and turns, and I had lost interest before the dramatic finale came around. This also applies to “Quiver” to some degree, though it regains its footing midway.
Personally, I much prefer the moments on “Antique” when the post-metal approach is dominant. Lighteater should focus less on needless, poorly-placed transitions and more on getting the most out of a few ingredients. Once the band figures out how to mold its raw potential into more purposeful melodic structures and changes, how to find the right canvas for their creative energy, they could become a real powerhouse. They clearly have an ear for how to penetrate through their music’s foreboding gray skies, but need to let the mantle of clouds settle a little more each time before scattering them again.