At the end of 2014, Florida’s LH05 released their debut album “When Hope Loses Us”. This record is definitely among the more unconventional death metal albums out there, as it successfully combines the mechanical aggression of brutal death metal with the haunting atmosphere and emotion that keyboards, piano, and other melodies can bring. In that sense, perhaps the most accurate way to describe this album is that it sounds like the result of Insomnium playing brutal death metal. There are quite a few sections with narrations and voiceovers, most of which end up being pretty creepy (see the opening track “Farewell” for a great example). Often times the band can actually slow it down as well, which is usually pretty effective. Though at some times this makes the album more of a death/doom hybrid, LH05 is able to make this sound work, as it lines up with the atmosphere the band creates throughout the album.
The death metal elements of “When Hope Loses Us” are not necessarily the most captivating. There is a lot of chugging, and the riffs are incredibly muted and rhythmic. Naturally, the drums follow along with this, as do the indecipherable vocals. Sometimes the band (namely, the drummer) speeds things up a bit, to greater effect. Of course, the reason why this album is successful has more to do with the blend of melody with this death metal sound, so if you go in expecting as many riffs as a Cannibal Corpse record, you’ll undoubtedly leave disappointed. Still, the bludgeoning forceful rhythms are somehow quite hypnotic, particularly when the keyboards shine through to support them (see "Clarity" for a great example). Equally intriguing is when the lead guitars come through. This is something brutal death metal bands don’t do enough; usually there is a distinct separation between the pulsing beats of the music, and the spastic solo section; in LH05’s case, they use lead guitars to support the rest of the song, as seen in the ending of “Swamp of Sorrow”, or even the catchy leads of “Black Bird” or "Waltz of Death".
One likely area of contention on this record will be the use of interludes. Personally, I find that most bands that include narration in their interludes usually fail to do so in a worthwhile way. That isn’t the case for LH05 though. Though the piano sections in “Don’t Be Afraid”, for example, are quite jarring changes from the rest of the track, and incredibly strange sounding, they fit with what the band is trying to accomplish on this record. Overall, this proves to be a recurring theme on the album. While you may have heard the individual elements at play here before, you probably haven’t heard them in the way that LH05 puts them together. This album will probably be a grower, but it is a worthwhile effort simply because it isn’t a rehash of everything else we’ve heard before.
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All of it
3.5/5 or 70%.
Written by Scott