Like any great musical genre, it can branch out and diversify, unearthing something new and interesting at every turn. It becomes a labyrinth of dark shadowy tunnels that lead you somewhere cold, bleak and nerve-racking, and you wouldn’t want it any other way!
Santiago Chile is home to Lascar, and Gabriel Hugo, its creator. Inspired by nature, spirituality and the human condition, this beautifully crafted, but achingly bleak style of furious, black-gazed splendour brings you on the wildest and harshest of journeys. The music is hugely emotive, saturated in a vicious euphonic diatribe that can shatter the stoniest of hearts. This music is not for the faint hearted either, or those who’s nerves are delicately balanced on a knife edge. To appreciate the blackened beauty of Presence, you need to be laid bare before it, and be willing to succumb to everything it throws at you.
The opening track, The Garden greets you with a soft acoustic melody, gently synthesised with an airy, seraphic breeze. However, as soon as the heavens open, thunderous guitars are shredded and ripped asunder, giving off a numbing and hypnotic aura. The blast beats tear the skies apart as Satan’s very own throat pours its jet-black heart out upon all of mankind. The emotion and the atmosphere are huge, bringing with them something addictive and spellbinding. That same entrancing spell continues through Endless Night Journey. The melody is heart-breaking and soul-destroying in equal measure, with a vocal delivery that weeps and wails in sorrow, and it’s this kind of emotion that enthrals me and makes me crave more. The passion and the pain is relentless, just as any depressive black metal album should.
I find myself falling deeper and deeper into the bottomless, black-gazed pit quite a lot lately. Like any great musical genre, it can branch out and diversify, unearthing something new and interesting at every turn. It becomes a labyrinth of dark shadowy tunnels that lead you somewhere cold, bleak and nerve-racking, and you wouldn’t want it any other way!
The diversity I mentioned earlier can be found in tracks like Albatross Epiphany, with its slightly brighter feel to it, maybe that’s due to the synths that weigh heavy on the track, but there’s definitely something more personal buried within the cries and funereal paced composition. Lyrically, Gabriel has penned some beautiful words, though macabre and sullen. “Your glowing forest, signal of repent. Albatross epiphany as he nips the buds. They will never get over this. Memories of a golden life”. Poetic and heartfelt.
The title track Presence has exactly that, great presence and power in its opening riffs. A Passionate gloom fills the air on this track with its furious paced drums laying siege, quickly followed by that hypnotic and melodic guitar. It leads us into the closing track, Crystal Giant, a track that is a sea of energy and again, a catchy melody buried in a shallow grave behind the musical mayhem. The track changes gears on several occasions and it’s the first track where I got a strong whiff of Violet Cold emanating from the depths. An acoustic interlude sets the track up for the grand finale, that post music moment where every ounce of energy, atmosphere and sorrow bombards you in a moment of bleak celestial bliss.
Lascar ticks every box if you crave music that cuts deep and leaves a lasting impression with its black-gazed fuzziness and its post black lineage. I wouldn’t have found this album if it wasn’t for an online friend, Jenni, who shared this epic release on Instagram, so with that in mind, I’m happy to be late to the Lascar party rather than never know it took place! Presence is a superb release.