REVIEW: Logh: The Raging Sun
Logh: The Raging Sun [Bad Taste, 2003] (mp3s)
Three words? crashing through snow
They may not be good at yelling, but Logh are magnificent brooders. The burdensome title of their first full-length, Every Time a Bell Rings an Angel Gets His Wings hinted at the group's capacity for meditation; the weaving guitarlines and soft-but-strident vocals confirmed it. What made Every Time a Bell Rings so excellent, however, was the way that the Swedish group maintained its intensity without ever resorting to bombast: the songs were fierce and passionate, but never all-out "rocking." The music drew paper-grey plains and vast, hurtling thunderclouds - and yet they didn't need cymbals to wail, nor Mattias Friberg to scream. They brooded, and in spite of the relative degree of quiet, the storm kept all its power.
With The Raging Sun, Logh have returned to a dream that's even darker than the landscape of the predecessor. Friberg sings of broken alliances, knives in the dark, a "full war, a fucking chronic alarm." For the most part, the band continues to show restraint, twisting patterns of electric guitar, voice, and firm-but-unshowy drums. There is none of the flash of Coldplay or Doves: it's the guitar lace of Kepler, punctuated with thrusts of Radiohead's rhythmic bluster. A plaintive piano sings behind overlapping vocals on "End Cycle," and the preapocalypse of "An Alliance of Hearts" glimmers with something close to happiness. A veil hangs over The Raging Sun, however: the music hangs back on the fringes of melody, never too approachable. The band is too shy, too alienated to play anything that resembles a pop song - not even a pop song à la "Morning Bell" or "Heroin". Logh sooner lurches into repetition or instrumental churning than play a bona fide hook. This is not in itself a weakness, but it adds a distance to the entirety of The Raging Sun, an uncrossable ring around the firepit.
Elsewhere, however, The Raging Sun does genuinely disappoint. It's jarring - uncomfortably so - when out of the desolate landscapes emerges riotous, hard-edged noise. With "The Bones of a Generation," it is as if Logh has dismissed all of what made Every Time a Bell Rings shine. Like a pack of clumsy wolves, the group leaps into attack-mode, spitting and pounding and going punk, but to my ear they just sound like they're running on the spot. There's no genuine fury here - certainly none of the menace that's so gloriously imagined in the group's usual sound. It's the horror movie where the bigbad monster is a laughable pile of latex, and what makes it most sad is that the same song appears on Logh's Contractor and the Assassin EP, gleaming in a masterful, hushed arrangement.
"The Bones of a Generation" wouldn't be so bad if it was the only misstep. After all, the title track explores similarly raucous territory, with slightly more positive results. But the close of the The Raging Sun is smeared with two more of these hot-and-bothered embarassments. Over thirteen minutes, "At This My Arm Was Weakened" and "City, I'm Sorry" rant and rave, collapsing all of Logh's beautiful brooding into chunky guitar riffs and a pummeled drumkit. It becomes music for Swedish suburbia - Papa Roach for the Stockholm set - and the band's careful, evocative lyrics can do nothing to save it.
If it were not for The Raging Sun's ineffective pyrotechnics, the rewards of this record might rival the richness the band's first release. As it stands, however, the album's mesmerising shadow is too often interrupted by vulgar, empty noise: Logh's end-of-the-world brooding collapses under repeated punches to the head.