2015 is barely behind us, but The Lion’s Daughter have wasted no time in making a grand entrance to the new year. With their second full length, Existence is Horror, the band has crafted an album that will have staying power. Pulling from influences as varied as Converge, early Neurosis and Tombs this thing absolutely bludgeons. But instead of simply paying homage to these influences, the band takes the best of each and molds into their own relentless fantasy.
The Missouri trio has been slugging it out since 2007, and have gotten better and better at their brand of bleak and black sludge with each release. Here however, the sludge side takes a backseat allowing room for increased time shifts and varied intensity levels. The album grips the listener tightly in one section and then releases with the next. They’ve played with this in the past but here it’s done better and more concise, making for an exciting listen.
From blast beats to doom riffs, the band covers all the bases with unwavering confidence. On “Four Flies” they combine all of the above and add a dash of d-beat to make it sound even more violent. And with the title serving as an obvious nod to classic slasher films, they also showcase their love of horror with a pair of heartbeat synth rhythms that conjure a dark and malevolent atmosphere.
Later, “Midnight Glass” bruises with violent riffs and a pattern shift into black metal. But it’s the back half here that truly stands out, with yet another shift to a slower, doom-like tempo. Rick Gordiano’s vocals are sparse on this track but are hateful in their delivery, reaching a level of despair unheard to this point. His burly, half growl-half screams are some of the nastiest on the album.
Aside from a couple of eerie mood pieces better suited for a horror movie soundtrack, there really is no let-up through the rest of the album. But without a doubt the highlight is closer “The Horror of Existence.” The song’s apocalyptic lyrics go hand in hand with the repeating, Ufomammut-esque riffs that worm their way into the brain. These riffs, along with higher toned wailing — dare I say solos? — are yet another good run of surprises in an album full of them.
On Existence is Horror, The Lion’s Daughter offer the best work of their short career and consequently jump-start this year in heavy music. Had this been released a few weeks earlier there is no doubt it would have made the end of year extravaganza. Even so, the album’s complexities and bombastic sound will keep this second effort at the top of the food chain for some time to come.