Metal is pretty bleak right now. Not in terms of quality – there’s an abundance of interesting stuff available – but in terms of viewpoint. All governments are corrupt, society is alarmingly backward, everyone is oppressed; the world is fucked, essentially, or at least is the picture painted by most metal acts. Northampton’s Lay Siege tar with the same brush, immediately evident through the title of their debut album, hopeisnowhere, but who can complain about a lack of sunshine when negativity is clearly a catalyst for creativity.
Interestingly, opener ‘Irebot‘ is about as basic as it gets. The number of ideas can be tallied on one hand, and its progressive course is as adventurous as a merry-go-round, yet it sets a strong, identifiable tone for the rest of the album to follow. Lead single ‘Hollow Hands‘ barely improves on the simplicity of the overall pathway, but their minimalist approach is still intriguing, helped by moments of slow, but sheer brutality that spring up unannounced. Lay Siege are no one trick pony, however. ‘Souldrinker‘ shifts gears at will in the opening stages, seemingly in stark contrast to the rest of their material, yet there’s a signature, underlying patience that binds it all together and then eases it to a halt.
There are some classic debut album naiveties in hopeisnowhere, though. Despite their undeniably sharp attention to minute detail, some of the transitions are poorly executed, and periods of amateurish production hinder their impact. Sections of ‘Glass Veil‘, for example, should be engulfing – their intentions are clear – but it just doesn’t project as planned.
Regardless, hopeisnowehere is a strong introduction to Lay Siege. Their breed of laboured, sludgy metal is dangerously easy to disregard as boring, and thus will not appeal to a mass audience, but there is a patient market out there. Fans of this acquired style are sure to notice and enjoy their diligent approach, and those accustomed to a bruising pit should be satisfied, too.