Lustre thrust into fantastical realms, layer mind with murky dreamland on ‘Still Innocence’

A massive degree of heavy metal is ensconced with horrors, anger, sadness, and darkness, mostly because the times in which we live also are flooded with those things. It’s difficult to indulge in social media, watch the news, or even have conversations at work without talk going black in a hurry, and it’s a shame it’s come to that.

But it doesn’t have to be that way all the time when indulging into more extreme sounds, and long-running project Lustre has returned with a record that easily could take you out of the doldrums. “Still Innocence,” the new five-track, 35-minute record from sole creator Nachtzeit, who has helmed this journey ever since 2008, doesn’t mind pushing back against the anguish and violence of much of the music that surrounds him. Instead, he presents a record that might as well be a surging trip through a fantasy land that might only exist in your mind but still acts as an escape. The record purposely puts a murky sheen on the music, which reminds a bit of Alcest’s work, as this can enable you to return to a time when things weren’t so grim and life wasn’t a constant struggle. It might not sound extreme, but this heavy synth-laden music is the polar opposite of what so much of heavy music has become, that’s it’s downright rebellious. It’s also relaxing and wholly intoxicating.

“Dreaded Still” opens the record on a fantastical note, as cosmic weirdness and lush keys spread, while the vocal hiss sizzles under the music, with the words barely audible at all. Mystical keys and shimmering notes brighten the scene, while whispered calls emerge from the darkness, and the enrapturing melody slowly fades away. “Nestle Within” has magical keys and growls swirling amid the atmosphere. The hypnotic tones feel like a 1980s Saturday afternoon fantasy film, while loops of a baby crying dash more hints of the innocence ingrained in this piece. The music turns into a strange cloud, as growls lurch beneath, and the song’s essence transcends into the stars.

“Let Go Like Leaves of Fall” is lush and dreamy, a secret pocket from which a mysterious mist forms. Keys bounce through, while the music has an alien feel, and the swimming synth mixes into your subconscious and lulls you into slumber. “Reverence Road” is the longest cut, gushing over 10:15 and bringing synth that sounds like it arrived from decades passed, and an ambiance that makes your imagination swell. Voices again hiss below the surface, while a shiny coat is applied to the music, giving off gold beams, and then things rush open. The fantasy scape grows larger and bolder as it goes, enchanting its entire path and stretching its wonder to its washed-out finish. Closer “Without End” has synth glow, smearing melodies, and a glistening finish that shoots sparks. The track then sends you into a trance state, soothing the chaos in your mind and leaving you floating down a tributary to numbing solitude.

It might be a stretch to consider Nachtzeit’s work under the Lustre banner as metal, but certainly it crosses over into those boundaries and can have an impact on any apostle of whatever sub-genre you can name. Escaping the darkness can be healthy and necessary, and “Still Innocence” is a record that stands out from the rest of the extreme music pack simply by being its own thing. It’s a record that could soundtrack a fantasy videogame you indulge in all night while in a calm drunken haze, and the music is a refreshing change of pace from the pressures of harsh reality.

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