Album Of The Week / Lowen – Unceasing Lamentations

For a musical form that specialises in the loud, some of the most transcendent moments in metal have actually been the quieter ones. To really emphasise the power of a roaring guitar, you need flashes of calm and nuance here and there to offer the contrast. A band who have shown a talent for nuanced songwriting over the last few years are the London-based progressive/doom rock band Lowen. Drawing inspiration from, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, Nina Saeidi’s background as an Iranian diasporite, as well as from the mythology of the ancient world, they’ve created a unique style of metal which is otherworldly as well as brutally heavy.

Following on from their acclaimed debut album, A Crypt in the Stars, the Unceasing Lamentations EP finds the band fully exploring their middle-eastern folk influences. Recorded as part of last year’s Doomsday Fest’s live online event, these three compositions were largely improvised with guitarist Shem Lucas producing drone-like acoustic lines while Saeidi plays a variety of instruments, including an Iranian daf drum and a shruti box. First track ‘The Exalted One Who Walketh’ is a haunting lamentation sung mainly in Sumerian and conjures visions of starlit deserts and ancient ruins. Second track ‘Against Evil Done by the Serpent’ is this time sung in Akkadian and steeped in mysticism. Its 9-minute run time showcases not only Saeidi’s incredible voice, but the interplay between herself and Lucas. The use of ancient languages on the EP (both Sumerian and Akkadian were being spoken about 5,000 years ago) is incredibly evocative, giving the music a scholarly feel while never becoming overly academic or dry. The final track is a more personal one, a cover of the Persian lullaby ‘Lalae Madar’, originally by Iranian pop legend GooGoosh and sung in Farsi. Here Saeidi pays tribute to her roots and the sheer emotion of the performance is enough to take the listener’s breath away.

While other metal bands would usually use an acoustic project to simply reinterpret their own material, Lowen has run with the medium to create something entirely new and indescribably more interesting. The fact that these acoustic, multilingual songs are instantly recognisable as the same band who wrote the massive doom monoliths on a Crypt in Space is a real testament to this band’s unique voice. I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

Unceasing Lamentations is out now and can be ordered here.

Words: Dan Cadwallader

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