Overcoming Babel is the tenth album by Ukranian based solo black metal artist, Lutomysl, and although I’ve only touched on some of his early works this album, much like its S/T predecessor, shows a distinct progression from a rawer bedroom black metal feel to a cleaner sound without losing the catastrophic and emotional barrage that makes his creations what they are. This is not black metal for everyone and although I have grown to appreciate Lutomysl through various attempts to be engaged by his sound, I would definitely warn others that it’s not something that you can just “put on” as it requires a certain mood and state-of-mind to really grasp. Think of it as intellectual or meditative black metal if that helps, but DO NOT underestimate the rapid and jagged riffs, explosive tempo shifts, and ability to switch from wailing angular guitar tones to a smoother and slower pace and then ignite back int0 a furious tantrum without hesitation or premonition. The flow of a Lutomysl song can be very easy and captivating but do approach it with some caution because he might just throw in some solo burst or almost indie-style soft-loud-soft dynamic or even a slight proggish stop-start-stop pattern that breaks up the pulse of the song suddenly, for a brief moment, but will show up over time to keep the texture varied. The more I listen to his work, especially this album, the concept of the story beneath it and the composition really pull together to enhance both the versatility and skill the man has over what he writes and records, i.e. there’s a lot to unravel that seems hidden at first but gradually manifests as you become further entranced with the songs.
On the surface his work may feel almost like a depressive outburst of frustration and angst, especially due to the Russian lyrics exalted in more of a dry cracking vocal shout of emotion which imparts a more human and emotional presence, but is in no way a hindrance to the blazing intensity in the songs. Although sometimes, as on “In Millstones of Time”, the wall of treble guitar may develop into more of a post rock/post metal tone and approach which is part of the uniqueness of the Lutomysl sound, but also has a tendency to generate more of a morose and lonely atmosphere rather than an abrasive and storm trooper approach. Hopefully I didn’t lose anyone with that last bit (post-rock makes my bowels clench at times too because it generally means “boring”) but it’s very difficult to describe Lutomysl without emphasizing his raging emotional approach to playing and the sound that is a bit more indie feeling than traditional metal. This is mostly due in par to the fact that the Lutomysl guitar tone is less distorted than most, which allows for a crisper and less muddy sound, which further enables the vocals and drums to have a greater presence and effect on the sound and mood. He does also pull more from mood and spontaneity as he plays and writes as opposed to forcing himself into the confines of being “this” or “that” which makes a significant difference in the sound and feel of the songs and albums without erasing or taming the apparent black metal components.
And with that said there are many traditional black metal elements present such as blistering tremolo picked arpeggios rhythm builds and melodies, all of which are unpredictable and executed with absolute precision leaving the listener caught in the cyclone trying to find some decent footing. The percussion is also substantially better than expected for a solo black metal artist as the drums are indeed real drums and the technique is solid and nicely emphasized in the production as opposed the percussion being a clamoring backdrop of chaos buried behind the buzzing riffs feeling almost like a second thought at times. One of the best examples of this is heard on “Babel” where the drums really seem to drive and dictate the direction of the song as the technique of the battery and timing of the rhythm is extremely sharp.
Again, I cannot emphasize enough how unique and incredible Lutomysl can be and although he may not be ideal for the more traditional black metal folks looking for “Kult” and what have you, this is definitely not something to miss experiencing. Click on the link below to stream the album in it’s entirety, and purchase a digital version of it if you are not able to play tapes.
You can also strem his full albums on YouTube, he posted many of them and from there you can even get an idea of his progression and maybe will prefer some of his older works.
Tapes can be purchased through WOHRT for $6:
The S/T tape is already sold out, as most WOHRT releases do, but look around for it at some other metal distros if you’re interested. I’d like to revisit that one again now that this one hooked me like it did.