Opening song, "The Burghers of Calais" is the standout. At just under 20 minutes in length, it patiently evolves from lonely guitar lines resonating gently in empty space, through tense, jangly riffs that build desperately into explosive outbursts of metallic sludge that monstrously bellow bloody murder (while retaining their soaring melodies), before returning to do it all again. The absence of repetitive hooks, laboured phrases or simple breakdowns provides a lot of time for contemplation, but when Locktender let their savagery rip, they give it everything. The jagged onslaught of percussive, noisy hardcore in the first half of "The Thinker" exemplifies this, until the song shifts into a rousing refrain - "can we still find the light at the end of the tunnel?" - which is delivered by voices that seem to be inviting you to join in the thinker's engrossed musings.
Then a black swan appears in the form of “Eternal Springtime”, a piece that is more romantic chamber music than hardcore. A surprising departure from the rest of the album, it features only a lilting violin accompanying a swooning guitar composition. But it also feeds smoothly into the intro of the final track, “The Man With the Broken Nose”, which resumes the extended journey through contrasts between the delicate and the brutal that characterise the album overall.
The music on Rodin unfolds in a way that makes it very easy to drift away thinking about the ideas Locktender are trying to express, or the stories behind the artworks they are trying to retell. Although it does get carried away in its own airs and graces at times, it does so honestly, and the theatricality of the band’s delivery seems completely forthright. While this album might draw some polarised reactions, Locktender are trying something a bit different and, in my opinion, managing to pull it off well and making it interesting to listen to.
Rodin and the rest of Locktender's music is available on their Bandcamp page and their website.