LOKUST – Infidel
RELEASE YEAR: 2023
BAND URL: https://www.6lokust.com/
Since heavy metal was arguably invented in the United Kingdom, and, specifically in England, it’s been fascinating to watch the Americans “hijack” it and arguably make it better but then observe the Britts emulate that previously emulated music in pursuit of their own sound. This complex conclusion I’ve reached listening to the British death thrash groove metal quintet’s Lokust debut album Infidel²⁰²³ independently released on July 28th. For the influence, they seem to aim at the so called New American Heavy Metal movement arguably spearheaded by Lamb Of God in the early 2000s, which is itself an allusion or the answer to the New British Heavy Metal of the 70s and 80s led by Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, in defining their own place on the heavy metal tapestry. In fact, Lokust is so strongly reminiscent of Lamb Of God (which we shorten to LoG for ease of reference) that the mean guy in me often wants to refer to them as LoGust but then I’m quickly reminded how Slayer’s “Expandable Youth” is practically slowed down Metallica’s “Eye Of The Beholder” and Pantera borrowed Metallica’s “Escape” for “Cemetery Gates” to say very little of Megadeth’s “44 Minutes” riffs airlifted from Pantera’s own “Domination”, none of which ever questioned or in any way litigated by any of the above bands. Well, to quote Tyler Durden from my favorite motion picture “Fight Club”, everything becomes just a copy of a copy of a copy with persistence of time. You can’t really blame bands for not being super original on heavy metal’s 53th birthday, however, it did influence my scoring of Infidel²⁰²³, an otherwise very good album.
While it takes 5 guys, Alex Da Costa (vocals), Jeremy Pringsheim (guitars), Alexy Khoury (guitars), Patryk Poko (bass) and Euler Morais (drums) to unleash the Kraken that is Lokust, they clearly have an idea for each song, Infidel²⁰²³ a real album of diferent musical photos. Lamb Of God is, indeed, the prevailing influence as gargantuan “Parasitic” recalls “Rise” from Sacrament²⁰⁰⁶, that is, doused with some Joe Duplantier Gojira roars a’la From Mars To Sirius²⁰⁰⁵ as well as that slightly winey Korn-like Anders Frieden from the early 2000 In Flames days in the chorus. But, as previously hinted at, Lokust is hardly a one trick pony (just look at the sheer number of visited genres) with the favorite and the only perfect track “Guiltless” as well as “Vilified” vicious thrash metal anthems reminiscent of early Machine Head (Da Costa literally sounding like Robb Flynn, likely on purpose considering shouts like “f#$ck you all” and “I am hell” alluding to Machine Head songs), while their melodic endeavors to compliment the chuggy verses smack of the best of Chimaira. In fact, if there’s a fine line between new metal and metalcore with the latter act it’s Lokust who definitely get Deftones nu-metallish on the brief interlude “Futile” as you half-expect Da Costa to yell “I get booooored!” Chino Moreno style but he never does. And here, make no mistake, they take the best of both genres to write fairly catchy songs even it doesn’t always work out, such as on the very good but not great first song proper (after the somewhat superflous “March” intro) “The Sin Of Doubt” and atmospheric but one-dimensional “Jinn”. All the while, you have a feeling like you’re actually listening to the new Machine Head or Lamb Of God very capable of replacing either one and both, or, at the very least, bringing back their best days vibe to the table.
However, what surprises and impresses the most is the lyrical side if you can look past the abundant profanity, Infidel²⁰²³ another poignant tribute to the dumpster fire that is the human condition, but what makes it interesting is that it seems to be narrated by a former believer in the benign spiritual power but here, I have to be careful because, although a few loose inferences could be made that allude to the Bible or Christianity, the narrator never identifies himself as a “former” Christian or God-believer in any specific sense, another possible nod to Randy Blythe and his non-specific belief in higher power influencing his band Lamb Of God. What’s relevant here is how the narrator recognizes the common universal philosophical dillema such as human depravity, the need for forgiveness in order to persevere, the power of doubt and how the escape into hopelessness and nihilism offers no solace but compounds the problem so it’s even more unbearable, all in a struggle to find even a semblance of meaning in a cold, heartless and unforgiving universe. The narrator rightly posits that if he was “built for violence” then atonement is pointless but the second conditional works only if the premise were a fact which it isn’t since man was created very good (Genesis 1:31) and blameless (Ezekiel 28:15) but, lifted up in hubris (excessive pride), became corrupt and continues to corrupt further both himself and his environment (Genesis 3), so, in any case, not built for violence. The conclusion that man was created evil from the start many reach because the desire to do evil rather than good can often be so strong it feels like we’re designed for it when it’s merely inherent, passed on from generation to generation while getting stronger and stronger, which is true even for the narrator who realizes that we’re “carrying the cross of sordid human clay” and “inherit all the sins that” seemingly “can’t be washed away”, our “integrity bought and sold for stolen selflessness” (Guiltless) whereas “above redemption or beneath contempt are all the same” to him (Vilified).
And yet there is “a glint of God, eclipsed” and “the burden of hope that still inflicts this torturous toll beneath my skin” although “all sanctity” is “spent on spite and sin” whereby only the diseased are saved “for the promise of peace, erased and forgotten” and “lost in the light that lures the sick from moment to moment with vile deceit” and teases with “a single flicker of faith that still remains” as we dig into our flesh “with bloody nails” to “find only sin”, the “mind so frail”, “buried with the sins” (Sacrosanct) all of which can be summed up in one desperate cry for a savior, if not from here then from the very human clay we’re buried alive in, something concerning which the Apostle Paul says “it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption…sown in dishonor…raised in glory…sown in weakness…raised in power…sown a soul body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, REV) for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (v.54) so that true life can swallow death up permanently. It is not something, then, that happens while we’re barely alive like that neither is it something we can attain by our own effort, it is something that must be given. I applaud Lokust that they express that primordial cry through Infidel²⁰²³ through both lyrics and music and that they do so powerfully and so convincingly and I hope, to borrow from “Casablanca”, this is just a beginning of a beautiful friendship.