There is something devilish and bizzare at the same time that surrounds these Pacific Northwest psychoprog doomers. Lesbian. That’s how they are called. Living in a world where any kind of differences and orientations are (at most of time) welcomed to the knife, this Seattle based group of musicians could be able to cope with the sexual freedom their music transmits. Their music certainly does not suffer of being different. Their music is a manifesto of bravery and openess.
What was started back in 2007 after their debut Power Hör was released on Holy Mountain keeps on rolling on their sophomore album Stratospheria Cubensis (Important Records). With a slight shift towards a more progressive sound, doubling its percentage in comparison with Power Hör. Lesbian is heading out to cause much larger waves. While their first recording is significantly blackened and symphonically overtoned in some parts, Stratospheria Cubensis shows off a remarkably punctuated experimental nature. From time to time, it looks like a scattered pile of discontinuous arrangements, which renders a fuzziness to their philosophy. From a different perspective, the album’s flow is smooth and clear, easy to deal with and as good to have a close encounter with austerity.
Mixed by Randall Dunn (Master Musicians of Bukkake, Earth, Boris, Sunn O)))), with mastering done by Mell Dettmer, Stratospheria Cubensis is already a promising release. This release could easily be described as a mirage. It tricks you with its seeming simplicity, but straight from the beginning leads you with a complicated series of melodies, arrangements, tunes, call it whatever you wish. The multi-layerness and complexity scare the shit out of you to the level of petrification.
Five songs in 71 minutes actually exceed the time limit of this record. This album is a sonic big bang, made of many particles, which has to be explored further and which will, once questioned, open Pandora’s Box on to other unspeakable things. And this Pandora’s Box kicks off with Poisonous Witchball, the doomiest track in its classic way which heralds this thrilling and variable album. At the entrance to the fourth minute of the song, Lesbian starts to feel a bit diverse, and enriches itself with a sort of Gregorian chanting opposed by many start-stops. Black metal inheritance persists in the closing bars of the track.
Sudden breaks of doom metal warfare fade in progressive rock moments and that keeps happening on the following Poverty and War Forever simultaneously, accompanying black metal artillery helped by Dorando Hodous’ vocals. Raging Arcania delves into calmness for almost five minutes of repetitive melody lines which break in the proggy central part of the song. This is actually the proggiest song off the album and the only instrumental, but it is still greasy by the end.
Stropharia Cubensis starts off as a sort of black/thrash attack for your eardrums. For the first three and a half minutes it recalls your favorite black metal bands which work with a little bit of melody. But then again, they leave it behind and set the pace in a different transmission, this time becoming a real heavy metal complication intercrossing with black metal. Then again… Oh wait, you heard this before. These mood changes keep happening until the riff on the 11th minute knocks you down to the ground followed by another chanting.
Black Stygian is the closer and by far the longest piece on Stratospheria Cubensis. Clocking at more than 22 minutes, this one is (and should be) the crown of the record, presenting what Lesbian is all about. Mixing up all of the elements that could already be heard during first four songs, this one comes up as a culminating center-piece of the record.
Now, no matter how good and reputable an effort this is, after Power Hör, Stratospheria Cubensis hasn’t reached a level of appreciation to be labeled as a masterpiece. Once the band adjusts the sighting device, we will be the witnesses of something unusually good. Until that happens, Stratospheria is more than a good warm up for the real thing.