For a few years, even obsessives might have struggled to keep up with Locrian’s output, a flood that ranged from small-run CD-Rs and single-sided cassettes to a steady stream of full-lengths. Together, all these efforts documented a singular path through a sunless landscape of noise claustrophobia and metal aggression. Locrian have tightened the valve in recent years, though, tending to projects apart from the band and issuing a few stellar collaborations. The music they have released has felt more painstaking and methodical, labored over instead of seemingly emptied out.
“Eternal Return”-- the first track on the trio’s Relapse debut, the excellent and risky Return to Annihilation (out June 25)-- bears that idea out. The bleak throb that opens the piece suggests the melodramatic menace of Prurient in that project’s prime, a feeling that persists throughout these three minutes. But the menace is ultimately tucked inside a triumphant riff, tranquil keyboards and drums that seem forever pushing toward safety. It’s as though Locrian is trying to swallow the desolation within the serrated and desperate vocals—“In the dawn, our monuments dissolved,” the screaming begins—and keep it safe from the rest of us.
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