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Review: LICH - LICH Vs. the MicroMurder (2015)

LICH vs the MicroMurder is the first release by Colorado based musician LICH. A diverse electronic/metal/rock project that bridges on a variety of sounds and influences, the music of LICH tells the story of a surreal post-apocalyptic world, centered through the undead perspective of the main anti-hero protagonist LICH. Based around a comic that he has long been working on, the music itself when listened to can be easily interpreted as the soundtrack to a movie or a book.

The entire nature of the release has a very cinematic element to it, not only in the sound choices for the synthesizer arrangements, but also in the way that the album itself is played and structured. There are rises and falls as the music crescendos into an intensity and falls back into ambience and atmosphere. With extremely variable song structures presented within even a single song, this artist's conveys his art and music first, while upholding to sonic conventions last.

Droning basslines, distorted vocals, crunchy guitars, waves of sonic distortion and noise. This release manages to really capture atmosphere and ambience without sacrificing complexity or intensity. A feat that is rare in the musical world nowadays. This music definitely represents some of the most original sounding industrial metal I've had the pleasure to realize. Unlike many so called "industrial metal" bands, LICH actually takes the time to put some sophisticated and unconventional sonic choices into his music. His cold and dissonant atmospheres are composed of a variety of different rhythmic and variable arpeggios, sound effects, and atmospheric layers , with the typical bass/drum/guitar fitting acting as complimenting features, rather than having the overbearing nature that I hear t be present on many other releases.

The vocals on the album continue with the diversity that the music itself contains, ranging everywhere from harsh gutturals, melodic croacks, vocoded howls, and all sorts of stimulating vocal variety. His distinct and variable range of influence can be well heard on this release, with the main man behind LICH very much trying, and succeeding for the most part, to move along with and complement the distinctive style he has achieved with the instrumentals.

The one downside to the album, is like with many independent releases, you have to go into the album with the volume not turned to high, and production expectations to be minimal. There's only so much one can accomplish without a professional mixing team, analog gear, and acoustically treated rooms. However that being said, compared to many other independent bands the music itself is very listenable. There are no harsh distortion peaks or crackles that could harm the speakers or be unpleasant to the ears. And the actual levels of all the sounds are balanced enough that you can easily make out all the instruments.

Highlights for the album? The diverse vocals throughout the tracks, and heavily synth based atmospheres. It actually at times reminded me of early OhGr, but heavier. To often in industrial music nowadays there isn't true experimentation and actual industrial sounds. This band does not fall into that category. The pure haunting atmospheres throughout this album are very reminiscent of both the imagery that the band attempts to convey, as well as being a true homage to industrial heroes of the past.​​

Verdict: This release, though taking inspiration from both modern and vintage electronic and metal music, certainly forges its own unique sound when combined with the almost synthetic orchestral atmospheres present. In my opinion it successfully conveys the story it wishes to tell, and I'd recommend this album to anyone who really wishes to take a journey into some post-apocalyptic fantasy.

You can buy the album on his official Bandcamp:

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