Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Locktender - Rodin

The premise of Locktender's music is the presentation heavy, emotional post-hardcore interpretations of creative works by figures such as Franz Kafka, William Blake and, on their new album, Auguste Rodin. And why would I want to listen to screamo art appreciation essays? Well, the couple of times I have seen Rodin sculptures in real life, it has been difficult to turn away - I remember standing and staring slack-jawed at The Gates of Hell, transfixed by the swarm of twisted, strained figures emerging from dark, solid bronze. So with that in mind, curiosity took hold and I decided to give Locktender a go...

The four tracks on Rodin, each titled after one of the artist's sculptures, provide a sprawling and compelling document of admiration for the album’s namesake. The music moves continuously and fluidly through myriad atmospheres in a progression of light and shade that, at different points, calls to mind Fall of Efrafa and Cara Neir.

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.


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