For a genre that can sometimes pride itself on its rigid orthodoxy, black metal is actually home to a diverse array of different musical styles which somehow all manage to fit under the same umbrella. From the unreserved brutality of Beherit to the proggy blackened space metal of Limbonic Art, the rich variety of sounds is one of the genre’s strongest assets. The enigmatic Norwegian band Livløst have taken this diversity as a starting point and used it to create a dark tapestry of sounds on their third album, Symphony of Flies, which manages to incorporate all the different sonic threads into one coherent piece.
Information on the group is scant other than they are two Norwegians from the southern region of Telemark and they craft both black metal, and dungeon synth under the Livløst name (their second album Bråtebu is a synthy treat) and it seems like this musical openness has really paid off on this record.
The album kicks off with the title track; a blast of old school black metal that manages to be scathingly heavy while still including shades of melodicism which recalls the proto-black metal/thrash of Bathory or Immortal. Both ‘No Reason’ and the single ‘Red’ start out dabbling in the band’s penchant for dungeon synth with the former then mutating into a melodic doom song, complete with epic synth lines, and the later breaking into a riff that evokes the memory of Emperor, both in its extremity and sophistication.
‘Holy Night’ presents something of a curveball. Starting with a mid-paced, doomy riff and atmospheric synth line, it then dives headfirst into the slightly more theatrical side of BM (think Mercyful Fate) with a full choir chanting the title in the backing vocals. The track then descends into post-rock atmospherics briefly before again exploding into a horror show with church organ and a huge melodic riff. A highlight in the sense it manages to be extremely accessible and profoundly evil sounding at the same time.
‘Angelperfume’, a weird name for a weird song, incorporating elements of groove metal as well as 90’s Peaceville bands, it could actually be a lost song from Paradise Lost’s Gothic. Album closer ‘Hostel’ is a huge, atmospheric track with chilly riffs complimented by Gregorian chants and a sparse arrangement, conjuring up images of the mountains of the band’s native region.
Livløst feel like a band who draws on all the disparate styles of black metal to create a sound which feels both traditional and experimental at the same time, and while that could make for a muddled sound this band have the talent to create something truly special. A must-listen for BM aficionados.
Symphony of Flies is available in physical formats from Dusktone and can be ordered here.
Words: Dan Cadwallader