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Album Debut: Lago – Tyranny

While we all race to find fresh sounds without caring about the shelf life, I’m always afraid we’re going to lose bands like Lago. On their LP debut, Tyranny, the Phoenix quartet plays competent and well-executed death metal; no more, no less. Besides a blackened foray here and a chamber music segue there, they blast along like streamlined icons, strengthened by a proven Floridian flow. And Lago just make this stuff work: there’s one great riff nestled in each song (3:27 in “Concede to Oblivion” rules them all); Manuel Dominguez’s James Murphy-esque solos provide enough of a melodic counter to properly unload the built-up brutality; and vocalist/guitarist Cole Jacobsen hits the sweet spot with his not-too-belchy, not-too-scratchy growl. They’re proudly death metal, existing without an era, which is why they may get lost in the blog shuffle.

See, Lago aren’t over-stretching themselves to get a step ahead, nor do they make a play for nostalgia by repackaging old friends. So for those that click links like birds eat seeds, Tyranny might not divulge its qualities quickly enough. Yet Lago have planted their feet firmly on solid ground. When those step-ahead bands become the next to be tripped and stepped on, Lago will still be standing.

Credit for that goes to Tyranny‘s replayability. Because there aren’t any herky-jerky tempo changes or oil/water shifts in timbre, Tyranny is a record you can leave on repeat. This is a boon since death metal, like thrash, is a great accompaniment to day-to-day activities you could barely stand otherwise. The speed is invigorating, the perceived-loudness is addicting, the low-end is strangely soothing. These are things Lago do well — drummer Brian Miller kicks like a jackrabbit, bassist Garrett Thomas tosses in neat leads — so they naturally fit most death-metal-appropriate situations. I’ve worked to Lago, I’ve worked out to Lago, I’ve cleaned to Lago, I’ve shopped to Lago. And Tyranny balances my mood during these tasks because I like death metal and Lago are a band that can simply nail the sound. I’ll always have a place for that.

Lago’s Tyranny will be released via Battleground Records on September 16. It’s available for preorder now.

— Ian Chainey

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