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Lento – Earthen

Supernatural Cat Records, 2007

Aside from a real eye-catching color scheme, I don’t know anything about Lento or Supernatural Cat records.  What I did know is that it was somewhat tricky to take a peek at the insides of the jewel case.  Why?  Because it’s a Super Jewel Box, folks.  It is true, for instead of merely flipping open the jewel case I had to press down on an official spot.  That caused the plastic fortress to open up and reveal a CD with a giant illustration of a bug on it.  The booklet had to be slid out from the top of the disc.  Whoa!  This is a heavy duty presentation, as if the case was constructed to contain something powerful.  Indeed, Lento brought the force in many ways.

For a majority of the seven tracks, Lento dirge it up so that you are always slowly headbanging with each power riff.  These Italians can truly lay it on thick and powerful, for songs like “Need” is pure muscle at a melodic pace.  Understand that Lento’s music is not any kind of speedy effort, but instead is more meditative with its rock.  A good comparison would be Godspeed You Black Emperor (GYBE) or Explosions In the Sky, except heavier.

As for “Need”, the song chugs along with a permeating tension before repeated blasts of power chords strike around the middle of the tune.  As one might expect from an instrumental band that compares a bit to GYBE or Explosions in the Sky, the repeated tempo changes throughout the song maintain the interest level as well as fluctuate the mood.  Lento does not always shake things up, for the following track “Subterrestrial” is an absolutely bleak three minutes of barren hollowness.  If “Need” provided any energy, “Subterrestrial” sucks it all out.

The rest of the album fluctuates from these volume extremes.  While “Currents” and “Earth” continue the deep power strums and dark, emotional content, songs like “Emersion of the Islands” and “Leave” utterly wash away any built up tension.  It’s like sticking an ice cube down the back of someone’s shirt and then blasting them with a hair dryer; these songs give off completely opposite reactions.  I will say that the long goodbye of “Leave” (at nearly ten minutes) doesn’t do as much for me as “Emersion for the Islands”, mainly because “Leave” has nothing going on except a long, moonscape-walking static sound.  Great in space, numbing on Earth.

“Emersion for the Islands” has a very pleasant periodic strum of a guitar that acts as, for lack of a better description, a drop of warm honey on the shoulders that slowly drips down.  This causes a calming effect and makes for a wonderful meditative piece.  The song would also be a perfect soundtrack for that desert scene in “No Country For Old Men” where a gun battle took place but no one knows why.  Unlike its predecessors, the song is heavy in a completely different way.

If you’re into metal, definitely check Lento out at their MySpace page.

Although Lento hasn’t put out anything new since this record (as far as I can tell online, that is), this would still be a good record to pick up for a different kind of metal experience.  I like the various moods that the band inflict on the listener, especially with the songs that sound like they want me to go to sleep only to blast me awake with the next tune.  Some may say that a band should stick to one sound so that fans can predict what they will like from them, but in the case of Lento I think they made the right choice in expressing how far their sonic boundaries will go.  If they ever put out something new, I look forward to hearing if they’ve veered more towards one extreme than the other.

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