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Chicago's Locrian spent the second half of the ‘00s making bite-sized sonic experiments (almost two-dozen mini releases) before committing their eclectic mixture of black metal, electronics, drone, and noise rock to a full-length format for 2009's Drenched Lands and the following year's eye-opening sophomore album, Territories. Opening statement "Inverted Ruins" sets the stage (or burns it to the ground, rather) with a snail-paced post-metal grind shrouded in decayed industrial textures à la Neurosis, and capped by eardrum-rupturing feedback screeches that may have some listeners convinced their CD is defective (the same is true for the epic dronefest "Ring Road"). But no, this is quite intentional on the band's part and but one jarring facet of their discomfiting musical strategy, which also entails a thrumming, Eno-esque meditation awash with cymbal crashes and processed saxophone waves ("Between Barrows"); a modern black metal showstopper of formidable violence and layered complexity ("Procession of Ancestral Brutality"); an Isis-like collection of improbably beautiful echoed melodies and swarming atmospherics ("Antediluvian Territory"); and a hypnotizing combination of densely interwoven evil drones reminiscent of Sunn 0)))'s Black One opus ("The Columnless Arcade"). It should also be noted that Locrian's central duo of André Foisy and Steven Hess invited numerous outsiders to guest on the album, including Nachtmystium's Blake Judd, Bloodyminded's Mark Solotroff, Yakuza's Bruce Lamont, and Velnias' Andrew Scherer, and its obvious that their pooled talents and distinct visions contributed significantly to Territories' oftentimes unique, if at times perplexingly diverse material. There's never a dull moment here, that's for sure.

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