PICK OF THE WEEK: Lotus Thief put history of violence, revenge on display with dramatic ‘Oresteia’

If there’s a thing we can say definitively about us as humans it’s that we sure as shit like to kill each other. From wars to cold-blooded murders to crimes of passion to pure revenge, we don’t really cower from spilling each other’s guts when we feel the time calls for it. Happy New Year, by the way.

Bay Area metallic sound benders Lotus Thief never have shied away from the violent and tragic, and they sure don’t pull their punches on “Oresteia,” their third overall and second album for Prophecy Productions. Often pulling from Greek tragedies that they apply to modern times (scary how that works, by the way), this time they focused on Aeschylus’ trilogy of the same name, a story that balances dealing with murder, revenge, and justice. In our country alone, we deal with killings in schools, churches, malls, movie theaters, you name it, and when it comes to our foreign policy, bloodshed often jumps from people’s tongues before trying to consider diplomacy. We haven’t changed at all. And we probably never will. The band also examines gender roles based on the story, and they add extra nuance to their music as we have both a female and male perspective vocally to hash all of this out. Bezaelith (lead vocals, bass, synth, guitars) has been in the front of this band from the start, as she has navigated the band through murky but always stimulating waters. She’s joined there by AJL (additional vocals), Romthulus (guitar, vocals), Tal R’eb (guitar, synth, vocals), and Kore (drums, violin) on a record that’s packed with power and surprises, as well as that bloodshed we’ve been kind of hinting toward.

“Agamemnon” begins with Bezaelith reading from The Watchman section of the tale as the track slowly opens and reveals itself. The singing swells, though growls simmer beneath it all, and then the pace explodes. Harsh cries ring out in the fog, while the pace swoons and is shredded again, and then synth creates a fog. “True prophetess, true paramour, Woman, what deadly birth, what venomed essence of the Earth,” Bezaelith calls as the track punches and swirls into smoke. “Banishment” is a quick interlude piece that basks in atmospheric waves as the cloud cover builds, and the sounds blend into “Libation Bearers.” The song lets synth unfurl as the track situates in fluttering singing before the track explodes, and the playing goes back and forth between fire and ice. The track gets heavier, with prog waves pushing in, as Bezaelith calls, “Hear me, O father, child upon thy sepulcher, each, each, where thou art lowly laid, still stands doom invincible.” Growls inject menace, as things get even more vicious before the singing reestablishes itself, overwhelming and bringing about an icy haze that pushes into “Woe” that immediately strikes ominous tones. Murky sounds stretch their wings as light pounding thumps, bringing about a cold front that ices bones.

“The Furies” opens with wordless calls, slow drumming, and the song slowly coming into existence before things starts to chug. Synth breezes blow as the playing snakes, and Bezaelith’s devastating, powerful singing again takes center stage. The track quakes the ground beneath it, and keys and noise unite and create a stormfront, while the singing drives, pushing the plot and bringing alien synth that flows into “Reverence,” a 54-second interlude that is a sorrowful and crumbles your psyche, simmering in fog and echoes that leads the way toward “Sister in Silence.” Strings feels both woodsy and Celtic, welling up with Gothic spirits, as Bezaelith’s singing again swells and lets the emotions caterwaul, taking a neck-jerk turn, crunching the ground beneath it and tearing apart serenity. A sweltering storm settles overhead as Bezaelith calls, “Liars, may ten thousand horses break your name, vile laws of men, half-blinded visionaries all be devoured.” The track returns to calmer waters, though the track remains intense as hell, before the song rolls off into a cosmic shimmer. “The Kindly Ones” closes the album with keys murmuring and a sense of dread, as Bezaelith channels Athena’s judgment, singing, “The thirsty dust shall nevermore suck up the darkly streaming gore, of civic broils, shed out in wrath and vengeance, crying death for death!” as noise jolts, drums pound, and everything rumbles away.

Having a new Lotus Thief record so early in the year surely will help a typically slow January feel a lot more enthralling, as “Oresteia” serves up an experience that you might have to visit a few times before you fully get what’s happening here. And that’s OK, because I often find the music that stays with me the most is that which I have to earn as a participant, though this one nailed me right away. Lotus Thief continue to push the boundaries of heavy music, what we can expect from them as a unit, and the themes that have created who we are as humans, even if that means that we really haven’t changed all that much.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.lotusthief.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://prophecy.lnk.to/lotus-thief-oresteia-rervm

For more on the label, go here: https://en.prophecy.de/