LLNN - UNMAKER
GRIPPING, RIPPING, PAINTSTRIPPING
After all these years listening to heavy music, sometimes it is still unfathomable how some vocalists maintain their extreme delivery. LLNN’s Christian Bonnesen is an example. His hysterical screamed vocals on Unmaker are so intense for the entire run of the record, you wonder if he still has a cranium. In this case, however, it is not just him because Unmaker is an absolutely crushing piece of heavy music.
Opener Imperial has a feral bleakness and an aura of relentless world-ending tempestuous violence. The percussion and guitars form bilious blocks of noise, like toppling colossal steel silos and this establishes the hard-hitting sound of this album. Desecretor, too, follows with a tortured, savage crawl while the ghastly industrial mechanized march of Scion builds spectacularly into a demented, raging crescendo.
Unmaker has a framework that has been tried by others already, but LLNN have hit a creative vein that makes this record stick out from the pack. For one thing, it simply broils with gripping brutishness and utter bellicosity. While LLNN did not invent this style, that is more than made up for by their sheer rabid ferocity and molten intensity. There are influences of industrial, post-metal, and even hardcore that are combined within the raging apocalyptic smelter.
The brutality is almost ceaseless throughout the record and you could say it is uncompromising but, in extreme music at least, that description is too often a byword for unlistenable or a reliance on volume and aggression and little else. Indeed, how can you prevent a record that is remorselessly screamy and noisy from being simply that? In LLNN’s case, the use of synths offer crucial layering and depth though not much in the way of reprieve. Rather than mere surface-level garnishing the synths are embedded in the mix and help evoke a sense of awful cataclysmic vastness like some nightmarish storm planet in a Ridley Scott epic. LLNN are a dab hand at dark ambient samples which are often deployed carefully to introduce songs and set an unnerving, foreboding tone.
Is there any reprieve or chinks of light? Barely any, to be frank. Obsidian has quieter moments when the sulphuric cloud clears and offers up some airiness while Interloper has some surprising reflection, a brief moment to survey the devastation - but even this collapses in on itself like a sinkhole. Unmaker actually gets better in the final quarter of the record and it ends quite triumphantly with the airy solar storm of Forger and the overwhelming sense of dramatic finality of Tethers while Resurrection is like a glitched android recording still playing on loop over planetary wreckage.
Whereas other acts who similarly attempt to create cinematic immensity can often meander and get lost in space, LLNN keep this record disciplined with songs that are compressed and do not outstay there welcome yet somehow retain their imponderable scale. On top of all that, though, behind the cacophony LLNN play with emotional intelligence and nuance and have developed a truly absorbing and crushingly intense mood that would be hard for anyone else to replicate. It is a soundtrack of devastating planetary collapse that would give Godflesh a run for their polluted money. LLNN have established themselves as an importnat and unique proposition. You could imagine this being played when the dinosaurs all died – or when humankind does. Gripping, ripping and paint-stripping.
Unmaker is released on Pelagic Records.