The Metal Examiner: Bruce Lamont’s Feral Songs For The Epic Decline

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Bruce Lamont: Feral Songs for the Epic DeclineBruce Lamont: Feral Songs for the Epic Decline (At a Loss, 1/25/11)

Bruce Lamont: “2 Then The 3”

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Having spent a decade as the voice and one-man horn section of post-metal outfit Yakuza, Bruce Lamont’s name has become synonymous with “metal plus saxophone,” an all-too-oversimplified yet all-too-useful shorthand description of that band’s output. But outside of his main group, Lamont has readily (and more frequently) contributed to a number of distinctly non-metal productions, resulting in a body of work that has little in common, sonically speaking, with his most commonly identified (and most actively self-identified) act.

With Feral Songs For The Epic Decline, Lamont’s first proper solo album, the elements that he has always brought to the table remain fully intact, yet never in a predictable way.  Though the foreboding atmospherics persist, Lamont has foregone most conventions of common (and even uncommon) metal and assembled something closer to the spaced-out soundtrack to some kind of indescribable psychological nightmare: less physical aggression but considerably more mental warfare.

Opener “One Who Stands on the Earth,” for example, starts out with a simple, plaintive refrain over a droning acoustic guitar, suggesting a medieval blues jam to come. Yet any semblance of song falls away over the track’s 11 minutes, as the guitar yields to a wailing sax and tribal percussion, all finally washed away by a waterfall of noise. The track uses but a handful of chords, but Lamont and engineer/longtime collaborator Sanford Parker use their full bag of audio tricks to keep the suspense high.

Ultimately, in the absence of much conventional song-craft, Lamont bets the farm on the mood trumping the music — and, surprisingly, it works. Through simple touches, like distorting the monologue on “The Epic Decline” or the hollow pads crowning the apocalyptic folk of “Year Without Summer,” the minimalist approach is allowed to achieve maximum effect. Countless first-time-out solo albums have tried to do more with more, but Lamont took more time (Feral’s first batch of songs was recorded in 2007) so that his songs would require less support.

By disc’s end, the album’s title becomes all the more fitting: “feral songs” in that they’ve long since lost any trace of civility that they may have ever had, and “epic decline” in their collectively grim sonic portrait of decay and collapse. The tracks, whether dissolved (“The Book Of The Law”), warped (“Disgruntled Employer”), or simply destroyed in a machine-gun barrage of noise (“Destructing Self-Destruction”) never just end but find themselves pushed off a cliff by the creator himself. As the album closes, “2 Then The 3” attempts to soothe with its folk-rock waltz before its lone, repeated chord mutates into four minutes of bluesy doom. Even in its handful of gentle moments, Feral turns the expected into the discomforting.  Perhaps this was Lamont’s goal all along.

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