Album Review: LOATHE The Cold Sun
Last year, I attended the Ozzfest/Knotfest event in San Bernardino which included a grand lineup of well-known acts such as Suicide Silence, Whitechapel, Emmure, and Carnifex together on the same day. Of the few bands I did not recognize was the Liverpool-based quintet Loathe. Although I was unable to witness their entire set, after a couple songs I got the gist that they were your typical energetic metalcore act.
Now that the group are releasing their debut album, The Cold Sun, I was able to experience a more refined, studio-recorded version of what the group was hoping to convey live. And honestly, I'd say I'm fairly more impressed with the result in comparison to what I saw at the festival. The material is rich with hooks and quality production that I suppose I simply missed on stage. Regardless of my original opinions of Loathe from their performance at Knotfest, the fact that they were able to win back my interest with a couple listens proves that they might certainly have a successful future moving forward.
The first few songs off the LP are very sonically dynamic, yet have a verse-chorus-verse conventional structure. "It's Yours" and "Dance on My Skin" are not only catchy singles, but also reveal the band's knack for layering multiple styles into their version of metalcore. With melodic clean vocal hooks, industrial percussion, nu-metal grooves, and some djenty riffs, one can understand that Loathe's influences have a wide range.
By the title track, the songs begin to get on the musically less predictable side of metalcore, borderline deathcore, similar to Sworn In. While tracks like "East of Eden" or "Stigmata" still portrays the group's poppy chorus aspect, the pieces become increasingly experimental as the record goes on. Examples of the act's non-conventionality include the black metal outro in "P.U.R.P.L.E.," atmospheric synths on "3990," electronic beats on "The Omission," and piano playing on "Nothing More."
Usually, groups of this genre don't tend to dip their toe in the concept record pond, so the fact that Loathe took a thematic direction with their lyrics is commendable. Although it isn't blatantly spelled out, The Cold Sun reflects a post-apocalyptic narrative featuring two separate protagonists. There is a small amount of progressive musical elements brought to the board so the inclusion of an overarching lyrical theme doesn't seem all too absurd.
I find it important to also elaborate that this style of music isn't for everyone, especially considering a large amount of readers on our site and a certain collective mentality within a good chunk of the metal community is mostly against mixing clean vocal melodies and electronics with metal as it provokes a melding of mainstream appeal with a genre that is built upon anti-pop. But for the metalcore demographic, I would expect many to find Loathe's genre fusion very innovative. In the end, I see this record to be intelligently heavy, yet I hope the band will be more consistent in merging their metalcore foundation with their experimental electronic, progressive, and hardcore aspects to form cohesion rather than a mixed bag of styles.