"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Laetitia in Holocaust - "The Tortoise Boat" (CD)

Laetitia in Holocaust - "The Tortoise Boat" CD cover image

"The Tortoise Boat" track listing:

1. Hair As The Salt Of Carthago (4:54)
2. Descent (4:26)
3. The Gift Of Fury (6:24)
4. Hissing Through The Veins Of The Gods (6:40)
5. A Gesture Before You Enter The Darkness (4:38)
6. Immanence And Illumination (12:12)

Reviewed by on April 21, 2010

"Laetitia In Holocaust has such a big focus on atmosphere and mood, even to the frequent exclusion of the heaviness, that the album borderlines on dark wave instead of full black metal."

Low budget black metal bands that self-release their albums have become a dime a dozen now that nearly anyone can produce a decent sounding album without major label support. Although Italy’s Laetitia In Holocaust has been a member of the underground metal ranks for nearly a decade, “The Tortoise Boat” is their first contribution of a full-length album to the scene. Although it’s clearly a “do it yourself” sort of album, the disc does have a distinct atmosphere that makes it stand out from the hordes of similar releases.

Laetitia In Holocaust has such a big focus on atmosphere and mood, even to the frequent exclusion of the heaviness, that the album borderlines on dark wave instead of full black metal. All six tracks use stilted guitar and bass work to create a darkly psychedelic and mildly disorienting sound. Any given vocal line is as likely to be a harsh whisper as a deep growl, and they are all delivered in short bursts that come out of nowhere and then fade away. The extreme vocals also have a seriously aggressive edge to them which lets the hate shine through exceptionally well. They may not have a huge range, but they do work with the style of music.

The main problem on “The Tortoise Boat” is how similar each song sounds. By the end of the second track the guitar riffs and bass lines have enough recurring similarities to provide a good flow. By the end of the third track the album becomes just flat out repetitive. While an album should be tied together into a cohesive whole by using similar themes, it shouldn’t ever reach the point where any given song is nearly indistinguishable from any other. A smaller gripe is the unfortunately placed slurping sound towards the middle of “Descent.” It’s not really clear how that particular sound effect was supposed to work with the music and be taken seriously.

A few breaks in the repetition occur to prevent the album from completely nose diving. “Hissing Through the Veins of the Gods” drops the heavier aspects all together and instead changes into acoustic guitar mode. The song uses almost exclusively swirling whispers and gothic clean vocals instead of growls, which is a little cheesy, but it’s not bad enough to ruin the track. Closing track “Immanence and Illusion” features a few small breaks from then norm as well, such as creepy sound effects that bring to mind wind rustling through an underground crypt.

“The Tortoise Boat” does actually sound quite a bit better than the standard solo/duo black metal act recorded on a shoestring budget. The bass is readily audible almost all of the time, and the guitars have a melody that frequently gets ignored or actively snubbed by many similar acts. Anyone interested in atmospheric underground music, or who actively looks for black metal acts where the musicians refer to themselves by single letter initials to be more mysterious, should give the album a shot.

Highs: The album has a unique, darkly psychadelic atmosphere.

Lows: The repetition sets in quickly and nearly kills the disc.

Bottom line: A seriously repetitive underground black metal album, but it does have a unique and interesting dark atmosphere.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)