Words About Music
Lazer/Wulf “The Beast of Left and Right”
I tend to be of the belief that progressive rock and progressive metal are both exercises in pretentiousness. Bands like Tool, Rush, and especially Dream Theater rarely interest me with their multi-suite epic time-signature defying tracks about astral projection or whatever. Music isn’t a calculation, and a song doesn’t automatically become better if there are 30 time signature changes in it. There are more progressive-type rock and metal bands that I do enjoy like Mastodon, King Crimson, and The Mars Volta, but that’s because those bands take those complex intricacies and construct catchy, compelling, enjoyable songs out of them. It’s fun most of the time. It’s not built on the idea of saying “Oh man look at how good I am at playing the drums” or “oh boy these lyrics are GENIUS.” That’s my main beef with progressive metal or “mathcore” in general. Thankfully, Lazer/Wulf subverts that trope by simultaneously making one of the most head-spinning complex and aesthetically pleasing metal records I’ve heard all year.
Lazer/Wulf is an Atlanta-based instrumental metal trio that for what I believe is their second full-length album, “The Beast of Left and Right,” has designed a concept so insane and unfathomable that it’s begging to be called out on its very pretentiousness. This album is a palindrome. You read that correctly. If you were to somehow listen to this album backwards it would be exactly the same as it is listening to it regularly. I have no way to test that and any music played backwards sounds really weird anyway so it might not sound right, but I’m willing to take the band’s word for it. The insane thing is that you don’t really have any way of noticing. There’s similar chord structures and rhythms throughout, but the riffing is so strange that if you didn’t know any better you’d just think it’s a run-of-the-mill prog-metal album
But hey, guess what. This album is also freaking brilliant in and of itself. Palindromic qualities aside, it’s a very fun listen. It doesn’t need to disguise itself with convoluted lyrics or 20-minute guitar solos. It’s as stripped back and simple as it is labyrinthine and warped. It almost sounds like it was composed by a few kids in a garage with too much time on their hands. This project would have been very easy to screw up, but Lazer/Wulf went about it in a way that also produces a smart, catchy metal record. The vocal melodies are few and far between and usually mixed in the back, but when they’re there they don’t get in the way and they don’t try and appear smarter than they are. It’s a garage-rock record for fans of The Dillinger Escape Plan.
“The Beast of Left and Right” is an album I wouldn’t mind getting lost in for 50 minutes at a time. It’s fast paced, always interesting, and takes the maligned progressive rock genre to new heights. It also helps that it’s very well produced and impeccably performed. I don’t know how long it took these guys to compose and write and practice the music on this album, but it certainly payed off. “The Beast of Left and Right” is an exercise in complexity that makes it okay for you to be a bit nerdy with your music taste. Do what you will with this album, just please don’t write it off. It’s much more than it seems.
SCORE – 8.5
FAVORITE TRACKS – Choose Again (Right Path), Lagarto, The Triple Trap, Beast Reality (Center Piece), Concentric Eyes, Choose Again (Left Path), Who Were the Mound Builders
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