My first interaction with LaColpa's latest album left me feeling that, as last week's Upcoming Metal Releases blurb noted, it was "straight up haunted." Subsequent listens haven't robbed me of that fancy, but they have colored in the reasons for the haunting, picking out the frequencies that channel electrical phenomena and the subtle tricks that cause the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. For best results, a dark room and undivided attention is optimal, but Post Tenebras Lux can conjure its apparitions even in the brightest daylight: its painfully intense droning noise is embedded with heavy, bludgeoning doom that adds force to its supernatural terror.

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The album opener "Theosophy of Pain'' kicks things off in a not quite user-friendly fashion: no riffs or discernable guitar to be found here, just semi-understandable screams atop a throbbing pulse of noise. In many ways, it's what I imagine a hangover sounds like. Given that the average listener's attention span is maybe a few minutes at best, putting one of the least approachable tracks up front indicates LaColpa's dedication to creating a vision of darkness, and that's only compounded through the rest of the record.

In fact, we don't even get to the most rock-oriented (though that loosely applies here in any case) tracks until much later -- the middle of the album finds the band sparsely applying riffs between agonizing landscapes of howling, surging noise. The ebb and swell of the atmospherics is applied like a thriller's soundtrack, building to one crescendo after another and then yielding to some new element. It's a bumpy ride, as opposed to the sometimes hypnotizing nature of noise and drone, never letting the listener really settle in and keeping ears perked up for what weirdness might come next.

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The second half consists of just two tracks, both ranking among my favorites on the album. "Welcoming the Agony" starts off with a bizarre, looping sample and then employs the band's doom side hand-in-hand with the drone, where the high-pitched screams mesh fantastically with the lumbering riffs. The combination is sneering, torturous, and, capitalizing on the atmosphere built by the first half of the album, like the climax to a horror film: possession is achieved, hope lost, and lives extinguished as the pace rapidly increases. The 18-minute closer "Relics" continues this sentiment, albeit with a much longer canvas to explore it with: first, a heavy dose of more sanity-eroding double-bass-backed riffs, and then, as the final mental walls erode, the second half of the epic washes everything away to nothingness.

The album shines the most at its heaviest, when the might of the band fulfills the whispered malevolence espoused by the atmospheric portions, and I would have loved to see even more of that. However, just like a good finale needs a suspense-packed buildup, it's possible that too much too soon would rob the doomiest passages of their heft.

This year has been, by all accounts, a nightmare, so Post Tenebras Lux is the ideal and fitting capstone to it. The Latin title translates to "Light After Darkness" -- what the end of "Relics" hints at and, also, what we're all hoping to find coming up. Throw this on as part of your New Year's celebrations and scour away the last remnants of 2020.

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Post Tenebras Lux released December 21st, 2020 via Brucia Records.


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