Rome-bred outfit Lento have been chugging out albums at a steady pace for a decade now, but have gone largely unnoticed by the metal scene, perhaps due to their instrumental nature. Often garnering comparisons with Ufomammut – if only for their shared homeland and proclivity for doom – the band’s sound has more in common with American compatriots Earth, though with heftier portions of out-and-out sludge.
Despite a focus on doom metal and sludge, Fourth is frequently driven forward by a barrelling momentum and steamrolling grooves. There is an immense weight to the band’s sound, but things never become simplistic. Though Lento’s style spans a variety of genres, it’s an almost universal truth that instrumental bands have to work a little harder to retain the attention of their listeners, and the Italian group are no strangers to this concept, maximising the focus on intriguing song-crafting as much as possible. The band’s evocative sound unfolds expertly across the album’s ten tracks, managing life without vocals as flawlessly as one can expect.
The five-piece’s rolling slabs of metallic riffs are segued by solemn moments of moody minimalism. Despite such a grand, encompassing sound, though, there is no large concept here, simply a skilled band flaunting their songwriting talents. Experimenting throughout but rarely, if ever, straying into dull or bizarrely incompatible textures, the band’s mix of noisy doom and moving post-metal proves striking and, despite coming from a saturated scene, remarkably unique. At times, their bulky metallic sections are infused with complex math-metal textures or industrial heaviness, and the atmospheric textures that permeate the album prove extraordinarily effective in giving the band’s sound a poignant edge. Most notably, eight-minute closer ‘A Matter Of Urgency’ sees the two sides of the band’s sound in their most direct entanglement, creating a droning soundscape of ambient heaviness that provides perhaps their most impressive song to date.
Fourth is an album of shifting dynamics, and whilst many artists aim to blend genres or incorporate changes in tempo and volume, Lento do so in such a way that the album continues to feel fresh throughout its 46-minute runtime. The alterations in style and speed here are almost alarmingly stark, but Lento pull them off with class, making an abrupt shift from muscular riffage to intricate minimalism seem natural and effortless. By the end, you’ll be wondering why anyone values vocals so highly.
Fourth is out now on Consouling Sounds. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr