The difficulty of discussing Arrayed Claws, the new 38-minute “EP” from Lorn, is not necessarily describing the individual elements. After all, most passages of the album, when taken in a silo, sound pretty familiar. The difficulty in describing this music, then, comes in capturing just how this group of Italian black metallers deconstruct, devolve, and generally warp these sounds. Because even the ways in which they deconstruct, devolve, and warp seem different.
But just so, and that’s the key to both the EP’s quality and slightly mysterious appeal. Lorn has this uncanny knack for unusual transitions and resolutions, leaving you on the edge of your seat but not necessarily in a place of tension. Opener “Disharmonic Feticism,” for example, begins in rather standard dissonant black metal fare before it flat out rocks a way not unlike Deströyer 666 if they used more needles in their riffs. This, of course, is purely a ruse, as the song then proceeds to layer monolithic riff upon monolithic riff as if building some alien structure, refusing to provide any real ending other than a fade into soft, synthy ambience.
It’s a wickedly cool song that will likely piss off certain listeners purely by refusing to serve anything other than the band’s nutty intentions, which will naturally be exactly what appeals to other listeners. It also sets the tone for the EP’s trichotomy: intensely aggressive black metal, passages that tease you into thinking you can just sit back and raise the horns, and oddly relaxing, but not quite soothing ambience.
If the first track does this well, “Abstract Trap” does it great. It starts with the kind of black metal that Deathspell Omega would play if they were intent on clinical precision and an almost industrial percussive edge, diving ever deeper into this sound until it arrives at some crazily razor-sharp dissonance. And then it abandons this irresistible pinnacle for near silence, eventually bursting back with another long passage where the band employs repetition and layering to maximum effect. The song does not, however, go for the long-cherished “hypnotic” black metal approach, but instead feels like some pre-orchestrated struggle. Overwhelming malevolence rules this, to be sure, but it is not trying to ensorcell your soul with ancient magic. Rather, it wants to meticulously reprogram the very coding of your mind.
And then naturally the whole thing gets back to near-black/thrash devil-rocking with “Toybodim,” at least for a while. It seems like a tease, but it is not, and that is really what Arrayed Claws does best: It tricks your mind into thinking the album is trying to trick you, but it isn’t; and that’s the trick. Really it’s just a great little bit of slightly-off-kilter black metal that will appeal greatly to those that find a great deal of enjoyment in being a just little weird. But just a little.