In the realm of doom metal, heaviness is king above all. There are plenty of pretenders to the throne out there, but Lycus have proven they are the real deal on their very first album. You'd be hard pressed to come up with an album that rivals Tempest in sheer heaviness that's come out this year. Tempest is a fitting title for this album, too. It's the perfect description for the forty-odd minutes of funeral doom, black metal, and drone that this three track LP contains.
Tempest begins with "Coma Burn", a lumbering 11 minute epic that features death metal growling accompanied by cavernous chanting. The majority of this sprawling track is traditional funeral doom that lurches along menacingly until about the half-way point, when a short blast of black metal tremolo picking erupts out of nowhere to shake things up. After this brief interlude, the song slows back down to a crawl for the remaining minutes.
After "Coma Burn" comes to a close, "Engravings" picks up with more chanting and what could almost be considered a soaring guitar melody by funeral doom standards. Much like "Coma Burn", the measured crawl of "Engravings" is interrupted by a blackened section. This time it's shrieking vocals and blast beats rather than furious tremolo picking, though. At a mere nine minutes in length, "Engravings" is over before you know it, but that's okay because the album closer is a beast.
At 20 minutes in length, "Tempest" is a monstrous song by any measurement. Although, it should be noted that the final 8 minutes of the track is just droning guitars and noise. Still, this a great track, and it closes the album out perfectly. It combines all of the earlier musical elements like the chanting and black metal influence and builds on them with the hypnotic droning that closes the album out.
Although Tempest is 40 minutes long, it seems much shorter because the three tracks flow into each other so well. Listening to the album, it's not always clear where one song ends and the next begins. This is largely because all three songs contain similar musical themes. This is less of an album in the conventional sense and more like one long track that's been broken up in to three separate acts.
Lycus have definitely created one of the better albums of 2013 with Tempest. This music is so heavy, but it's also almost meditative thanks to the drone aspects. It's easy to accidentally listen to this thing two or three times in a row and not even be a aware of it because you just get lost in the album. Tempest is a must purchase for fans of doom metal, no question about it. The album is out now and you can purchase the digital album through 20 Buck Spin's Bandcamp page here or purchase a physical CD here.