'Stratospheria Cubensis' - Lesbian (6/10)
In the world of progressive metal, the general measuring stick of musical achievement generally rests on the concept of a band's technicality and speed. As a counteract to that notion, bands like Neurosis and Isis took the idea of progressive metal and turned it on it's head, giving a new experience that was undeniably both heavy and forward-thinking, but lacked the traits that many considered to be staples of progressive metal. Jumping on the bandwagon of sludgier, doomy 'post-metal' is the Seattle act attractively titled Lesbian. With their verbose second effort, 'Stratospheria Cubensis' is a sludgy monster of a work that instantly recalls classic metal like Black Sabbath. Although filled with heavy riffs and a crushing sound however, something about 'Cubensis' is sorely missing.
While the group's name may connote some sort of feminine notion, make no mistake that Lesbian has one of the heaviest sounds I have heard this year. Having a sound very familiar already to the likes of Bison B.C and a legion of other thrashy sludge bands, there is little of big surprise here. However, the band makes good use of the style, taking advantage of the genre's inherent heaviness to deliver some incredibly convincing pieces of riffage. While there are sections (especially towards the middle of the record) that incorporate much more of a post-rock sound over the typical crushing intensity of the rest, a listener should dive into 'Stratospheria Cubensis' with the intention of having a very loud and generally blatant experience.
A potential issue with 'Cubensis' is it's length. While some albums certainly benefit from being long and make the most of their length, this album does seem to overstay it's welcome in terms of how long the music drags on far. Filling up almost every possible minute of discspace, it can get a bit lulling in places to hear the same heavy and rough sound for almost an hour and half. That being said however, there are sections that really benefit from being drawn out; the more fermented musical ideas are given time to really build up to something special, although I wouldn't deem any segment of the album to be truly mind-blowing by any stretch. While many of the riffs are quite impressive and memorable, there is an inconsistent nature about the writing. All too often will one of the album's long songs get lost in a myriad of less inspired material, making it something of a waiting game until the next great moment.
With a decent host of classic rock style riffs, primal growls and a few surprisingly introspective soft spots along the way, 'Stratospheria Cubensis' may not be a contender for album of the year by any shot, but it's certainly a worthy listen for someone looking for a heavy dose of progressively inclined metal in a genre that seems to have gone a bit soft.