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Slow tempos, pounding beats, crunching guitar chords, ethereal wordless vocals -- Lento's debut CD delivers something new: a heavy metal take on post-rock. The guitar-dominated quintet from Roma, Italy has found a midway territory between Earth and Godspeed You Black Emperor!. Entirely instrumental, the music relies on superimposed repetitive guitar riffs, crawling beats, and ambient textures to create a rather unique mood that has both bite and sweetness, although the pastures are never sunny in the land of Earthen. This particular blend of influences can recall at times Kayo Dot or Time of Orchids, but the music is actually heavier and more ambient than either of these bands. This short album (40 minutes) kicks off with "Hadrons," the most dynamic piece of the set, though still very laid-back and lurking. "Need" plays the post-rock connection up a notch, adding melancholy to the overall mood, in typical GYBE! or Mogwai style. "Currents" offers a nice mesh of overlapping and slowly churning guitar riffs, while "Earth" is downright doom metal (and very good doom metal at that). In between these last two pieces is the experimental "Emersion of the Islands," a leaden soundscape. As a whole, Earthen holds up very well to repeated listens: it has focus, variety and meat. A second album will show if Lento simply stumbled upon a recipe or if they have what it takes to continue developing this alluring new sound. Recommended.

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