The Delores Lesion

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With their third full-length album, 2004's Delores Lesion, Atlanta, Georgia's Lilitu haunt the fringes of the so-called New Wave of American Metal -- only they take the genre's commonplace melodic-death metal-hardcore ingredients and proceed to add progressive and gothic overtones, heavy doses of synthesizers, and an emotionally charged approach drawn directly from the emo movement. Yes, with so many elements packed this densely, it is a bit too much to handle at times, and what often sounds like a remarkably eclectic and risk-taking album, unfortunately also comes off hopelessly scattershot and confused on occasion. In what ultimately amounts to an unresolved stalemate between creative accomplishment and creative folly, the excellent "Only the End of the World Again" inaugurates this bold experiment with a streamlined compositional layout and a glorious death metal riff copped right out of the In Flames handbook. Then, ensuing offerings "Even the Vultures Have Moved On (A Tragic Love Story)," "Follow Through" and the title track introduce counterpoint clean vocals of the male Killswitch Engage variety, and a mixture of backing female voices and trip-hop nuances more typical of Swedish goth-mavens Tiamat. All three boast stunning moments, awesome atmospherics, and positively magical guitar solos, but more extreme minded fans may find that they also force the commercial appeal issue a tad too strenuously -- only to be outdone later on down the line by the full-on ballad treatment accorded "Dark-Haired Girl." The closing fury of "Fragments of My Reflection," with its proggier, extended arrangements, works a little better, but arguably the best all around effort is saved for the standout "Desolation Breeds," which marries a typically frenetic death/black metal foundation with a mournful melody reminiscent of Portland avant-garde act Agalloch to great effect. Oh, and if it's not obvious already, Lilitu's lyrics are as carefully assembled as any of their songs -- although their overall messages, like the musical backdrops surrounding them, are generally too obscure to leave a convincing impression. Which brings us back around to the prior assertion that, for all its technical merits, Delores Lesion never quite coalesces into a clear and totally satisfying image, leaving the final verdict as to whether it should be considered a flawed triumph or a courageous near-miss to probably vary wildly from listener to listener.

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