REVIEW: LICE – “Woe Betide You”
Lice is a new project involving Niklas Kvarforth from the depressive black metal band Shining, J from the deadly war metal Teitanblood, and Kirill Krowli. With a line-up that may not make immediate sense, Lice creates worldly and otherworldly horrors with their avant-garde black metal. In fact, a post-hoc realization make you see how the line-up makes sense. ‘Woe Betide You’ being their first stint at this nefarious design pulls influences from several directions to create something incongruously strange.
‘Woe Betide You’ falls somewhere between a Fauvistic painting and a collage when it comes to how it implements the different ideas and colours as a collective product. Different styles like atmospheric black metal, post-punk, prog, blackgaze etc. all make way for each other seemingly stochastically at first but we slowly start seeing a silhouette of structure. Niklas’ mixture of harsh, soft-harsh and soft vocals also provides the required dynamic to this style of music. The drums mixing works well as it has its mark on the album without being overbearing.
Thematically, Lice deals with nightmarish material individual eventuality and parallels it to the destined cosmic horrors. As the title of the album suggests, the focus is on the suffering and decay of man. Loneliness, intentioned violence, sacrifice and disintegration are some of the themes the band delves on in this album.
The opening track “Beyond Eternal Recurrence” is an short instrumental blackgaze track that sets the mellow mood of what is following next, but I was glad that what followed was a departure from this track. The next couple of tracks slowly open the floodgates to all the other styles to flow in to make the album richer. “Level Below” is probably my favourite track of the album as it exposits the repertoire of this project in those seven or so minutes.
“Roadkill” takes the post-punk style to its climax in the context of this album as it starts with the soft melancholic strumming moving towards dark prog. The track “Pride Eraser” also has the interplay of beautiful melodic sections and riffy fast-paced black metal. The final track “…And So The Ceaseless Murder Of The World Came To An End” brings the prog side of the project to the forefront and it toys with stringing different riffs together and culminating towards the metaphoric and literal end.
Lice is definitely an interesting project coming out an a somewhat unconventional alliance of people who are well known for their respective styles of extreme music. With ‘Woe Betide You’, the collective shows an aspect of one of the directions of their musical and thematic interests and the vividness of ways one can implement these ideas. There were pockets of interest in this first installment and it will be interesting to see what gets built onto this.