The term “sludge” by its very nature evokes heavy, dragging music that takes a while to reach completion, rather than “melodic hardcore intertwined with doom and post-metal that has a kick to it”. Of course, when something is set up in a way that belies its scope, you find that the music is not the surprise at the end of the road, but rather the road itself. In the case of Boston-based Lesser Glow, this combination of musical influences works because the music is direct and straightforward, maximizing their cohesion by setting themselves up in a way that might still surprise the most hardened cynic.
For a 25-minute run time, Ruined has a lot to unpack and dissect within its soundscape. There is a lot going on musically, where post-metal and sludge act as the backbone that sets up the atmosphere. The atmosphere itself feels hazy and dreamlike, almost like a cocoon that shields the listener away from the desperate bellows the vocals can go towards. The music is also superbly constructed, creating interplays of dynamic shifts between the heavier tones of the bass and drums and the lighter, fluid tones of the guitars. However, it’s the vocals that really bridge these interplays together, adding cohesion to the bordering chaos the music creates by adjusting to clean and soaring or harsh and bellowing when required. They are the main focal point, while the instrumentation acts as the background, creating a sonic balance that can be steered in any direction.
Get “Ruined” by the opening track to Lesser Glow’s Ruined.
One potential obstacle to full immersion is that Ruined seems to start in media res, with title track “Ruined” being the halfway point, and “Tel Meggido” being the finale. It was odd that, after “Tel Meggido”, the album seemed to end, only for “Empty Eyes” to start after what felt like a closer. After letting it play, it started to become noticeable that “Empty Eyes” would be considered to be the true opener, as it starts without prompt and it immediately sweeps into melodic hardcore and noisy post-metal. Meanwhile, the last track on the album proper, “Under The Polar Shade”, seems to seamlessly transition into “Ruined”, effectively and cohesively tying any loose ends with the melodic tonalities and clean vocals the track delivers. I originally thought that the band may have erroneously placed one of their best tracks at the beginning, only to not be able to build from it, as the energy begins to wane in “Vacant Throne”. Now, with this in mind, Ruined is now more effective in its execution, pulling the listener into the music without much prompting and then letting them go once “Tel Meggido” reaches its conclusion.
However, because of this set up, it reaches completion earlier than assumed. If the listener starts Ruined as normal, they will find that the album ends abruptly, only to have “Empty Eyes” begin after an extended silence. It is best to start listening at “Empty Eyes” and then continue forward. Obviously, how one listens to a piece of media - whether it is an EP or a full-length - is a subjective experience, but once Ruined is played a few times, I suggest with experimenting with how to listen to the record.
All in all, Ruined is a debut that immediately starts you at the middle of the action, before showing you where the music truly begins. Although this in media res set-up may take a while to warm up to, Ruined shows brilliance and is a good start to whatever endeavor and direction Lesser Glow goes into.
Ruined Track Listing:
02. Vacant Throne
03. Tel Meggido
04. Empty Eyes
05. Fall On Mortal Decay
06. Under The Polar Shade
Run Time: 25:18
Release Date: June 8, 2018
Record label: Pelagic Records