LOVIATAR
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LOVIATAR

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | SELF
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"Loviatar - Eternal Sons (EP)"

LOVIATAR - Eternal Sons EP
2011
Indie

Although I review full albums from time to time, this blog is mostly intended to review EPs, especially canadian bands of the extended doom family. Here is a stellar one that falls right into these criteria.

This EP comes in a carefully assembled cardboard package, along with the lyrics. This CD is limited to 100 copies, but it's my general feeling that it's written "soon on vinyl" all over it. Fingers crossed.

A teaser to a promising album, Eternal Sons has two songs: Eternal Famine (5:50) and Sons of War (6:12). Epic titles for epic songs. Loviatar can't hide its influences from a variety of bands and styles as diverse as post-metal, crust metal and stoner/doom metal alike. The vibe is catchy, overwhelming, rich and addictive. Any High on Fire or Pentagram fan would get on his feet and follow the leader when JD (guitars and vocals) repeats "Arise! Sons of War." And if that style of music ain't your thing, the clean vocals and the excellent production should do the trick.

On that level, this is another production that came out of Pebble Studios (Produced by Bond) AND Yogi's Meatlocker. If that doesn't ring a bell read my Unavowed review below and you'll soon find out that some of the finest treasures come out of this cave.

So who is Loviatar? From a crowd point of view, they've been around and opening for the right bands in Ottawa and Montreal since 2010: Skeletonwitch, Barn Burner, Titan, The Great Sabatini, Blood Ceremony, Iron Man, Revelation, Collider, Alaskan, Red Fang, Mares of Thrace, Biipiigwan, etc... You get it.

Through these shows and the Eternal Sons teaser EP, Loviatar has created some expectations towards a future album. We want more guys.
- TheBlackHull


"Loviatar - Widow's Flame (EP)"

LOVIATAR - Widow's Flame EP
2012
Indie

Nested in the small post-hardcore/sludge/doom community of Ottawa, conveniently located mid-way through the Toronto-Montreal corridor where most touring bands travel, Loviatar is making a name for itself as an opening act.

Widow's Flame is the second EP from Loviatar. This time again the production is really good, being recorded at Pebbles Studio by Mike Bond, who also happens to play bass with the band. Interesting enough, Widow's Flame is the second in a series of short EPs released by Loviatar - the third one being expected somewhere in Spring 2013. Like Eternal Sons, the first one, it has a very simple design, with a focus on the clean minimalistic logo, and is housed in a cardboard packaging. This time again, the EP title is a play of words based on the two original songs found on the album, i.e. "Flametongue" and "Widow's Walk". Since these EPs are so short (this one is 11 minutes long), continuity between them contributes to defining the identity of Loviatar.

We find ourselves again in a world of fantasy, where post-metal meets doom, where the songs and texts are epic. The guitars, at the core of the music, have this great rock energy, but also give a lot of space to the other instruments. The bass and drum have this great complicity, and supports the songs with great mastery while staying in the back. The vocals, high and clean, are a gifted trademark of Loviatar, something many heavy and doom bands will envy.

On the other side, there is something I personally find clumsy with the pace of this EP. While the two original songs are excellent, they are accompanied by a cover of Leonard Cohen's "The Partisan". This is a good and interesting rendering, but from an outside perspective I'm questioning its place on the EP: given it has a total of only 11 minutes, and given that the first track is fast and the second is slow, it feels unnecessary to have a third song that brings a completely different direction. All in all, this may not be a big deal since all songs are good and will probably blend in, in the long run, with Loviatar's future discography.

With Widow's Flame, Loviatar is staying very close to what it offered us on Eternal Sons. They added a second guitar player, but so far it has more impact on the live aspect than anything else. Two new songs is not a lot when they are of average lenght, and this EP can't be considered as a landmark or a statement, but it is useful to generate an interest from the local scene.

I'll definitely keep an eye open to see what brings the third EP.
- TheBlackHull


"Loviatar - Widow's Flame (EP)"

LOVIATAR - Widow's Flame EP
2012
Indie

Nested in the small post-hardcore/sludge/doom community of Ottawa, conveniently located mid-way through the Toronto-Montreal corridor where most touring bands travel, Loviatar is making a name for itself as an opening act.

Widow's Flame is the second EP from Loviatar. This time again the production is really good, being recorded at Pebbles Studio by Mike Bond, who also happens to play bass with the band. Interesting enough, Widow's Flame is the second in a series of short EPs released by Loviatar - the third one being expected somewhere in Spring 2013. Like Eternal Sons, the first one, it has a very simple design, with a focus on the clean minimalistic logo, and is housed in a cardboard packaging. This time again, the EP title is a play of words based on the two original songs found on the album, i.e. "Flametongue" and "Widow's Walk". Since these EPs are so short (this one is 11 minutes long), continuity between them contributes to defining the identity of Loviatar.

We find ourselves again in a world of fantasy, where post-metal meets doom, where the songs and texts are epic. The guitars, at the core of the music, have this great rock energy, but also give a lot of space to the other instruments. The bass and drum have this great complicity, and supports the songs with great mastery while staying in the back. The vocals, high and clean, are a gifted trademark of Loviatar, something many heavy and doom bands will envy.

On the other side, there is something I personally find clumsy with the pace of this EP. While the two original songs are excellent, they are accompanied by a cover of Leonard Cohen's "The Partisan". This is a good and interesting rendering, but from an outside perspective I'm questioning its place on the EP: given it has a total of only 11 minutes, and given that the first track is fast and the second is slow, it feels unnecessary to have a third song that brings a completely different direction. All in all, this may not be a big deal since all songs are good and will probably blend in, in the long run, with Loviatar's future discography.

With Widow's Flame, Loviatar is staying very close to what it offered us on Eternal Sons. They added a second guitar player, but so far it has more impact on the live aspect than anything else. Two new songs is not a lot when they are of average lenght, and this EP can't be considered as a landmark or a statement, but it is useful to generate an interest from the local scene.

I'll definitely keep an eye open to see what brings the third EP.
- TheBlackHull


"Loviatar - Druid's Curse (EP)"

LOVIATAR - Druid's Curse
2013
Indie

Druid's Curse is the third installment in the Loviatar EP trilogy. About four months after the previous Widow's Flame and a year and a half after the Eternal Sons debut, we find another 3-songs cd, housed in a digi sleeve, with a similar layout, the same line-up, and a similar length. The least we can say is that Loviatar is consistent and approaches the construction of its EPs very seriously. Both on the visual and the musical point of view, Druid's Curse strenghtens very efficiently the band's discography, like an affirmation of its song writing and band imagery.

The fantasy continues: Loviatar's world rocks around mythical characters, as displayed by the beautiful artwork and the tracks' name.

The powerful "Curse of the Hamadryad" launches the journey with a thick wall of sound. All the instruments are burning hot and signal that we are in for a ride. The drum's skins are more silky and defined than before, the guitars have been pulled back a little bit in the mix, and there is a creamy coat of reverb tying them to the vocals' effects. Incredibly good and catchy for a post-metal / doom act, vocals are clean and upfront. The bass guitar makes use of a slight distortion and can be easily distinguished with its rich bottom and guitar picking, a sound and technique that reminds me of Mouth of the Architect, Cult of Luna and Buried Inside. It sometimes slides up and down, follows the bass drum chirurgically, or walks around like a punk rock band, adding interesting colors to the music. As for the guitars, they cover the rest of the spectrum, from left to right, from North to the South, with either atmospheric, piccolo, or straightforward playing.

The guitar work is probably best illustrated in "Elephant Graveyard", the second and instrumental track. While the bass gets clean and modest, the guitars take all the place available. They start with a few atmospheric, isolated notes, building gradually an emotive charge until it reaches its apex with lots of cymbals and chords, and dies again. When arrangements are this good, the music speaks for itself.

The doom gland is sollicitated anew on "Frost Druid", the third and last track of the EP. It has a few dragging and bluesy notes, some eruption into heavier post-metal, with bits of piccolo picking and sparks of hi-hat cutting through the reverb coating of the mix - all good ingredients to approach traditional doom while staying away from the depressive tone of it. This song is a direct dialogue with "Eternal Famine", the first song on the first EP: not only because of the doomy riffs, but also because of the "oh-oh-oh" chants. Positioned last on the EP, it is a clever reference addressed to those who have been following the band so far, coming full circle with Loviatar's EP trilogy.

Druid's Curse is 12 minutes well invested. There are no missteps, nothing is lacking, and nothing is redundant. It is without a doubt the best of the three Loviatar EPs; something you can spin any time, any day, without getting tired of it. It is also one of the best examples of Mike Bond's recording and production skills.

Druid's Curse is definitely one of the best Canadian metal EPs of 2013.
- TheBlackHull


"Loviatar - Druid's Curse (EP)"

LOVIATAR - Druid's Curse
2013
Indie

Druid's Curse is the third installment in the Loviatar EP trilogy. About four months after the previous Widow's Flame and a year and a half after the Eternal Sons debut, we find another 3-songs cd, housed in a digi sleeve, with a similar layout, the same line-up, and a similar length. The least we can say is that Loviatar is consistent and approaches the construction of its EPs very seriously. Both on the visual and the musical point of view, Druid's Curse strenghtens very efficiently the band's discography, like an affirmation of its song writing and band imagery.

The fantasy continues: Loviatar's world rocks around mythical characters, as displayed by the beautiful artwork and the tracks' name.

The powerful "Curse of the Hamadryad" launches the journey with a thick wall of sound. All the instruments are burning hot and signal that we are in for a ride. The drum's skins are more silky and defined than before, the guitars have been pulled back a little bit in the mix, and there is a creamy coat of reverb tying them to the vocals' effects. Incredibly good and catchy for a post-metal / doom act, vocals are clean and upfront. The bass guitar makes use of a slight distortion and can be easily distinguished with its rich bottom and guitar picking, a sound and technique that reminds me of Mouth of the Architect, Cult of Luna and Buried Inside. It sometimes slides up and down, follows the bass drum chirurgically, or walks around like a punk rock band, adding interesting colors to the music. As for the guitars, they cover the rest of the spectrum, from left to right, from North to the South, with either atmospheric, piccolo, or straightforward playing.

The guitar work is probably best illustrated in "Elephant Graveyard", the second and instrumental track. While the bass gets clean and modest, the guitars take all the place available. They start with a few atmospheric, isolated notes, building gradually an emotive charge until it reaches its apex with lots of cymbals and chords, and dies again. When arrangements are this good, the music speaks for itself.

The doom gland is sollicitated anew on "Frost Druid", the third and last track of the EP. It has a few dragging and bluesy notes, some eruption into heavier post-metal, with bits of piccolo picking and sparks of hi-hat cutting through the reverb coating of the mix - all good ingredients to approach traditional doom while staying away from the depressive tone of it. This song is a direct dialogue with "Eternal Famine", the first song on the first EP: not only because of the doomy riffs, but also because of the "oh-oh-oh" chants. Positioned last on the EP, it is a clever reference addressed to those who have been following the band so far, coming full circle with Loviatar's EP trilogy.

Druid's Curse is 12 minutes well invested. There are no missteps, nothing is lacking, and nothing is redundant. It is without a doubt the best of the three Loviatar EPs; something you can spin any time, any day, without getting tired of it. It is also one of the best examples of Mike Bond's recording and production skills.

Druid's Curse is definitely one of the best Canadian metal EPs of 2013.
- TheBlackHull


Discography

April 2013: Druid's Curse CD EP
(stream: http://loviatar.bandcamp.com/album/druids-curse)

December 2012: Widow's Flame CD EP
(stream: http://loviatar.bandcamp.com/album/widows-flame)

August 2011: Eternal Sons CD single
(stream: http://loviatar.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-sons)

Photos

Bio

Inspired by Finnish mythology, J.D. Gobeil (Army of Saint Joan, Sleeping Pilot) and J.P. Sadek (Dead City Rebels, TokyoSexWhale) formed Loviatar in the fall of 2009 as a two-piece dedicated to writing epic song-scapes in the tradition of classic and modern metal.

In 2010, before their first performance, they rounded out their sound with Mike Bond (Sleeping Pilot, Roads to Shiloh) on bass, and began writing their first single. The three members’ influences spans the breadth of heavy music, reflected in the thrash, doom, and post rock styles of Sons of War and Eternal Famine, their first recorded collaboration.

With several live shows and recording sessions in their pocket, Loviatar decided that further expansion was required to achieve a fuller sound. Ambient guitarist Shane Whitbread was brought in for the group’s second recording, the 3-song Widow’s Flame EP, and is now firmly entrenched as the group’s lead guitarist. This EP also included an innovative cover of Leonard Cohen's 'The Partisan.'

The release, and Loviatar’s energetic live performances, secured them shows in support of touring acts Red Fang, Skeletonwitch, the Great Sabatini, Cauldron and Juno winners KEN mode, as well as regular appearances in Montreal.

The band’s third recording, the 3-song Druid’s Curse EP, expanded Loviatar’s sound further, bringing black metal instrumentation the band's repertoire of metal styles, but Loviatar stands apart thanks to J.D.’s soaring vocals. The traditional grunting and screaming of similar styles of metal are discarded in favour of a more melodic approach, more fitting to the subject matter and to Gobeil and Sadek’s carefully constructed lyrics.

Following up on their trilogy, Loviatar is now on the cusp of recording a full-length album in the band’s country studio. 3 years in the making, they hope to release in 2015.

Band Members