Lillake – “Become” (Self-Released, 2016)

lillakeWell, folks, this is a weird one.

Dark, minor chords being picked in a Tool-esque kind of way with a crooning vocalist singing about contemplating suicide before it builds into odd-timed doom-y dirge.

With the bass meandering around the guitar riffs and the crooning morphing into a melodic scream, it still feels very much like a Tool song but uniquely its own at the same time.

Half-way through the first song, there’s a break. A reverb and delay soaked guitar lick circles around you, building in intensity as the bass joins in with a drum roll. It breaks away and a slow-moving doom metal riff takes over. And, my head is banging.

The song ends and I’m asking myself, “what the fuck was that?” Of course, there’s no time to dwell on the answer, as a gnarly bass and drum intro lead me into the next song, “Will It.”

This is doom metal, right? And then “Will It” turns into technical thrash metal. Yes, thrash metal. It’s fast as hell with a constant, classic thrash drum beat. The vocalist is spewing out screams as fast he can. Time to hit the pause button and make sure that I am still listening to the same band.

Yup. It’s the same band. Who are these guys?

Ah-ha! Now, that makes a bit more sense. Lillake is a project created by Nico Santora, whom, up until recently, played guitar with seminal thrash act Suicidal Tendencies. He also had a short stint with the progressive death metal band The Faceless.

Alright, time to press play again. Back to the thrash: it is frenetic and furious for nearly two minutes and then it slows down to a snail’s pace. The riffing is equal parts doom and prog, as are the drums, which sound like “Chaos A.D.”-era Sepultura crossed with “Symbolic”-era Death. In fact, the whole outro sounds very Death-like, except at a crawling speed.

The title-track is next. Death meets Tool with maniacal whispering mixed in quietly. It is haunting and brooding, leaving you on the edge of your seat, waiting for it to explode. When it eventually does, it is totally worth the anxious wait: a doom-y tromp similar to what was explored on the past couple of songs.

Next is an instrumental. It doesn’t hold my attention, which is typical for instrumentals. It’s background music, if you ask me. 🙂

The band is technically proficient and it makes the music unique. Odd-time signatures and technical-bass lines are not things that are commonplace in doom metal. It makes for a riveting listen.

I only wish they had explored it further with guitar solos. There are plenty of places where I would have preferred a ripping, show-y solo in place of the vocalist screaming. Thankfully, there is a nice lead on “Believe In Me/What’s Left,” but more of that would have been nice.

The aforementioned “Believe In Me/What’s Left” is 7:41 of glorious, modern prog-rock akin to the prog-metal band Leprous. For me, it is one of the stand-out tracks on the album. By no means a banger, but the mood is habit-forming; I can’t stop listening to it… over and over again.

The next song on the album reminds me very much of the Christian progressive death metal act Extol. They had a few uniquely, progressive death metal albums that were really groundbreaking but unfortunately were largely overlooked due to their religious affiliations. Give them a listen after you’ve listened to this Lillake record. (Check out Extol, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9Pu9anBBIE)

Equal parts Tool, Death, Neurosis, Extol, Leprous and Faith No  More, but with a sound that is truly all their own, Lillake have given us an album that is fantastically special. It is not doom metal per-say but the influence is there (among many others) and regardless of how one would categorize the band’s music, it is well-done and one-of-a-kind. Pigeonholing it just isn’t an option.

I highly recommend this record if you’re in the mood for something different.

Check out Lillake, here: http://lillake.bandcamp.com/album/become

Buy some merch, here: http://lillake.bandcamp.com/merch

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