Homebrewing a genre blend that’s no more indebted to Georgia than to Norway or to the Bay Area, the Austin, Texas, trio Lions of Tsavo concoct a vicious complexity with their third full-length outing, Traverser. Varied in spirit, complex in mood and capable at a moment’s notice of unleashing cathartic blasts that even at their most brutal hold firm to a sense of atmosphere, the album is released this week on Toxic Assets and was recorded by the band as the follow-up to 2009′s Swarm of all the Unholy and 2008′s Firelung LPs. They’re on tour to support it now.
That’s simple enough to say, but it becomes a more difficult concept with a record as diverse as Traverser actually is. Though it maintains a cohesiveness of sound and Lions of Tsavo carve an identity out of their sundry changes and violent churn, Traverser hardly seems like it’s waiting for easy summation. Whether it’s the Remission-style tension twisting of “Berlahars” that later get a blackened revisit on the semi-title-track “Traverser of Guriin” or the post-metallic chugging and smooth shift to ambience of “Chemotrophs,” Lions of Tsavo‘s third outing is less about picking out individual hits than about the overarching 52-minute whole journey, bookended by the brooding intro “Circuitous” — which also finds a heftier mid-album companion in the short instrumental “Circuital” — and outro “Negentropy,” named for a measure of bringing chaos to order.
If that’s the intent behind the bookend, it’s a noble enough aim, and the semblance of structure adds to the feeling of consciousness at work across the 11 songs of Traverser – the band would also seem to be aware of the “album as journey” factor, given the title — but as always, the crux is in the trip itself more than the destination. From the progressive heaviness of “Permafrost” to the nonetheless melodic raging apex of “Sea of Crises” that serves as fitting payoff for the record in its entirety, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Chamberlain rasping out some of his most charred screams over top of the swirl created by his own layers of riffs, the bass of Daine Vineyard and Josh Dawkins‘ drums, it may require a few listens to sink in just how much Traverser is Lions of Tsavo‘s own sonically, but the brazen individuality is one of its most satisfying and lasting impressions.
In honor of the official release, I have the pleasure of hosting the entirety of Traverser for streaming. Please find it on the player below, followed by the remainder of Lions of Tsavo‘s current tour dates, and enjoy:
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LIONS OF TSAVO Traverser Tour:
11/08/2013 Blue Nile – Harrisonburg, VA w/ Valkyrie
11/09/2013 TBA – Charleston, WV w/ Hericide
11/10/2013 Tree Bar – Columbus, OH w/ Dark Twin, Earthburner
11/11/2013 Butt Temple – Bloomington, IN w/ Torturess, Boddicker, Agakus
11/12/2013 New Vintage – Louisville, KY w/ Coliseum
11/13/2013 The Boro – Murfreesboro, TN w/ Black Thai, Black Tar Prophet, Behold The Slaughter
11/14/2013 Buccaneer Lounge – Memphis, TN w/ Shards of Humanity, Treeburner, Thetan
11/15/2013 Fatty Arbuckle’s – Shreveport, LA w/ Wartrodden, Cloudbreather
11/16/2013 606 Congress – Denton, TX w/ Baring Teeth