Fresh from the bottom of the world, Australia’s Lo! have exploded onto the hardcore and metal scenes and created one hell of a toxic mess with début album Look And Behold. Signing to Pelagic Records for the outing, it’s the ultimate time for the four-piece to show up. But who are they and what have these relative newcomers got to offer us? Calum Robson decided to get the lowdown on Lo!.
How do you get an audience’s attention? It’s a crucial question that plagues our increasingly self-interested society. “Hollywood look at me” might just suffice. But look beyond the harsh reality of demand there’s a lurking stench. It’s so sane, it’s insane; so glossed it’s plastic. Real desire is boiled in a stew of artificial aspirations and superficialities – to the point that when someone cries out in genuine passion, all is lost. It’s exactly why you should jerk your head in the direction of Australia’s Lo!, who have something to give. The emphatic four-piece’s simple name derives from a phrase with roots in the medieval era. It’s a time they relate to, and the reason behind their own simple call for attention.
“We took the name from the phrase ‘Lo and behold’,” says bassist Adrian Shapiro. “It was thrown about fairly regularly in medieval circles when old mate ‘Derek the Impaler’ or whoever it may have been wanted to draw attention to something. We thought it was a fitting name for the music we wanted to create.”
Doing the rounds in Sydney for over ten-years in separate bands, each member gradually covered the same ground, producing a venn diagram of social interaction before uniting without clearly intending to. They’re an eclectic set of musicians and together, they produce a collective output that crosses a number of musical boundaries. There’s respectable influence extracted from Mastodon – giving the Aussie’s their sludgy, phosphorous sound – whilst there’s snippets of Queens of The Stone Age with a strong emphasis on the percussive, mathy constructions of Converge. Ask them where they belong and Shapiro will tell you “we’re probably more involved in the hardcore scene then in the metal scene.” But that doesn’t make them exclusive to it. If Shapiro’s mentality is anything to judge him by, then we shouldn’t get too comfy, too soon. Experimentalism is a possibility and there’s only a selection of musical principles that Lo! will abide by. At their core, they’re flexible and open to interpretation, as Shapiro tells us when asked what his musical intentions are.
“Just to write good, intense music,” he says. “We all listen to a broad range of styles, so we’re attempting to bring that all together, but still keeping it predominantly heavy is a very rewarding challenge for us. I think because we haven’t lumped ourselves into a singular sound or music category – it leaves to door open for us to experiment and try a lot more new things in the future which is also very exciting. We just like challenging ourselves musically and seeing if we can come through with something that is interesting and fun to play.”
But while Lo!’s emphasis is on enjoying music and rousing a hair-raising, sonic nuisance, they’re also devoted to capturing an atmosphere with every song. It certainly translates on monstrous début ‘Look And Behold’. Crucial in mustering the mood is the band’s stark lyrical bombardments. Look no further than the agitated ‘Deluge (Carnivorous Flux)’.
“It’s a pretty dark lyrical piece,” Shapiro explains. “It was actually one of the first songs that Jamie finished lyrics for and set a tone for a lot of the other lyrics on the album. It deals with people on the verge of death and has a sense of Armageddon in my opinion. It’s a pretty brutal tale!”
Songs screaming of injustice, bloody gore, murder, love and death are hardly a rarity in any form of music – it’s separating from the colony of mediocrity that defines. It’s important to look at Lo!’s lyrical stature, as there’s another story behind their conception in ‘LAB’. Adopting frontman Jamie-Leigh Smith at a late stage in the album’s process, the then-trio welcomed the singer into the line-up at a later stage when the artwork and majority of instrumental recording for the record was done. It gave the singer a furious platform to live up to with some aggravated musical sections that needed some equally hellish lyrics to boot.
“He came in with a pretty intense musical base to then create his lyrics,” Shapiro says. “I guess having that and the fact Carl had already been looking at artwork for the band that had a medieval feel with lots of flames and etchings – Jamie’s head-space moved into the death and Armageddon area early on.”
If they are to spread these pulverising messages across the globe, now is the time to do it. Living upside-down has its downsides and although there’s a wealth of Australian metal and hardcore acts emerging now, the country’s geographical whereabouts has isolated it in the past. Upstanding big-guns include AC/DC, The Birthday Party, INXS and Karnivool. Lo!’s deal with Pelagic offers new opportunities and – most significantly – chances to tour outside of the outback and into new territories.
“We’re talking to some people about getting over to Europe late May 2012 for a tour,” Shapiro confirms. “Fingers crossed this happens – we’re all dying to get over there and play.”
It’s exciting times. Despite this, Shapiro isn’t letting the possibilities overrun into a panicky air-headedness – he’s loyal to his native land, and also extremely psyched of its potential.
“I think there are some great bands around in Australia at the moment doing some amazing stuff,” he enthuses. “More and more bands are starting to travel overseas too which is really great so we’re getting to spread our flavour out there! I think you have to be supportive of your home space to make it grow.”