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Bruce Lamont - "Feral Songs For The Epic Decline" (CD)

Bruce Lamont - "Feral Songs For The Epic Decline" CD cover image

"Feral Songs For The Epic Decline" track listing:

1. One Who Stands On The Earth
2. The Epic Decline
3. Year Without Summer
4. The Book Of The Low
5. Disgruntled Employer
6. Deconstructing Self Destruction
7. 2 Then The 3

Reviewed by on January 15, 2011

"The larger majority of the music on this release comes across as if it is playing on one long loop, rarely detracting from its 'background noise' mentality."

Having been a part of the Chicago progressive metal act Yakuza for over a decade, and contributing saxophone duties to a long list of various other bands and projects, multi-instrumentalist Bruce Lamont has finally released his first ever solo album. Enjoying a cult-like following in the underground with Yakuza, Lamont provides a unique take on his vast musical output that will give long lasting fans something else to dive into. While "Feral Songs for the Epic Decline" can potentially be a cornerstone release in 2011 for those already familiar with Lamont, those new to his work might find less to enjoy in the album's seven tracks.

"Feral Songs for the Epic Decline" is an album that wears many masks. It is dense, atmospheric, dark, creepy, bizarre, and ambient all within one album. The strange nature to the material on "Feral Songs" will surely detract potential listeners, while also drawing some in. The opening track, "One Who Stands on the Earth" combines all the mentioned characteristics into its eleven minute bulk and features a distinct middle eastern influence. For a nearly twelve minute composition, there is little variance in the songwriting besides a small shift towards native Indian drum sounds and a short saxophone solo towards the end. Having such a song lead off the album might turn many people away as it is not the most accessible song on the record and was surely not written for mass appeal.

The remainder of the material featured on "Feral Songs" is also deeply planted in a dark-ambient landscape - utilizing everything from acoustic guitars, sparse vocals, buzzing electronics, and various styles of drums. The word bizarre fits the music perfectly, as this album is the furthest things from conventional. The only exception to this would be the album's closing track, "2 Then the 3," which tries its hand at being a slightly more accessible number. The attempt pays off as it is by far the album's one true highlight and is a song that could to appeal to a wider range of people.

Unfortunately Bruce Lamont's debut solo album is quite a big letdown. One massive component of this - one too big to ignore - is the fact that Bruce Lamont's incredible saxophone skills, something that he is universally recognized for, are severely under-used here. The larger majority of the music on this release comes across as if it is playing on one long loop, rarely detracting from its "background noise" mentality. Those expecting a saxophone virtuoso record are going to be left deeply disappointed and also be left longing for new Bruce Lamont material. Credit does need to be given to the man for trying his hand at something different, and his experiment into dark ambient work is a decent one, as far as dark ambient music in concerned. But when "Feral Songs for the Epic Decline" finally comes to an end all that's left is the desire to hear some of Lamont's seductive saxophone solos.

Highs: A few moments of acoustic charm and simple saxophone work are worth hearing twice.

Lows: The absolute lack of Lamont's true saxophone skills hurts this album.

Bottom line: Fans of Lamont might be disappointed to learn that 'Feral Songs' features very little saxophone.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

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)