In a world where boorish online commentators endlessly proclaim what is and what isn’t metal, and far too many bands desperately cling to the genres tropes as a safety blanket, thank goodness for bands like Loathe.
The youthful Liverpool quintet may be a metal band, but The Things They Believe isn’t a metal album in any way whatsoever. That’s not gatekeeping on our part – the surprise-released follow-up to 2020’s I Let It In And It Took Everything bears absolutely none of the hallmarks of the genre.
The razor-sharp riffs, hulking grooves and vocals of any kind are gone, replaced with a more intangible sound that leans on the ambient soundscapes conjured by visionary electronic duo Boards of Canada, Olafur Arnald’s neo-classical multi-instrumentalism, the atmospheric soundtrack work of Vangelis or Trent Reznor, and even the delicate, silent spaces of Talk Talk’s art-rock masterpiece Spirit of Eden.
It’s a mood designed to slowly and subliminally occupy the consciousness, rather than a traditional set of songs. Picking out individual moments seems pointless, though whenever a discordant saxophone, courtesy of The 1975’s John Waugh, emerges through the woozy atmospherics the record is lifted to euphoric new heights. And takes multiple listens before its full depth is revealed, but those with enough patience will be rewarded.
Does this mean Loathe are still a metal band If they continue to flex their creative muscles in so many directions? Frankly, who cares. Their lack of conformity and vast ambition should be applauded.