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Lying Figures : The Abstract Escape

The debut full-length from France's Lying Figures is an entertaining, high-quality and muscular helping of meloDeath/Doom.

I must confess, I've been waiting for this: Lying Figures are a band that gave me considerable enjoyment with their 2013 demo and 2014 'A World Of Their Own' EP, and piqued my curiosity as to what they could achieve on a full-length canvas. Well, here it is: eight grim stories centred around madness and delusion, tastefully presented in digipak format by Rain Without End Records. The striking cover art is evocatively and disturbingly nightmarish, the equally evocative lyrics are all presented in perfectly legible yet suitably chaotic form in the enclosed booklet, and - as a bonus - we're even included on the Thanks list, which is always appreciated!

Stylistically, in fact, it very much follows on from the preceding EP, starting with the common elements present on both covers, though 'The Abstract Escape' renders them in much darker fashion. Musically, it's less clear-cut - there is much that offers some feeling of continuity: the laconic, slightly Goth-tinged moments, the stately mid-paced twin guitars, the occasional runaway Katatonia-style lead are all quite familiar. However, they've all been captured in a much heavier and more emphatic mix that adds some potent low-end rumbles and makes everything sound more brutal, aggressive and potent. When the tempo goes up, it's to a much more blackened place than was previously the case, something that is heightened by the greater proportion of harsh or harsh-edged vocals on this outing, though there are still a fair few cleans featured.

If you're seeking for a comparison, then it's perhaps fair to suggest that the Saturnus/Katatonia feel remains, this time supplemented by more of an early Swallow The Suns than Lacrimas Profundere vibe. But while those are all present, they're further in the background, while Lying Figures still further firm up their own sound and identity. It's a busy, vigorous one, to be sure: nobody gets much of a rest during any of the tracks, as each one crashes through several varying iterations of a verse/chorus structure packed with instrumental detail and animated by Thibault's roving, ever-changing vocals. Fortunately, they're also fairly short, generally within the five to seven minute bracket, so remain quite disciplined, despite the quick-shift textures: there's a lot of both drive and anchor supplied by the excellent percussion section, putting a strong backbone in place for the guitars to work around.

As befits a band named after a creature from the 'Silent Hill' game series, and an album featuring an extensive quote from Emil Cioran's 'The Book Of Delusions' on its booklet cover, the songwriting covers some profound and gloomy existential questions: lyrically, a good match for the soundscape, and leading to some quite demented moments of manic shrieking and laughter, such as in the delightfully unhinged 'Monologue Of A Sick Brain'. Throughout, the vocal deliveries have a sombre weight and conviction about them that really punches the message home. That builds in intensity as the album unfolds, with the slightly stronger half starting at the excellently-named and tormented 'There Was A Hole Here, It's Gone Now', taking in the frantic stomp and eerie sirens of 'Remove The Black', and finishing with the slow-burning atmospherics of the regretful 'Zero'. Not that the first half is particularly weak, but the very consistent timbre and pace of sections within the tracks can come across as being just a little 'samey' in places, something which is better balanced out in the second.

Anyway, as a debut full-length, 'The Abstract Escape' is undeniably impressive: slick, assured, coherent and dynamic, and setting some clear space between Lying Figures and their core influences. Mission certainly accomplished, on that score. If there's any negative, it's only that it's also drifted some way back towards that wide school of "mainstream" meloDeath/Doom, which is a crowded arena in which to look for space. Of course, it's also crowded because it's a genre a lot of people enjoy - and so, if you want an entertaining, high-quality and muscular example of what it can produce, look no further than here.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Hospital Of 1000 Deaths
2. Tormented
3. Monologue Of A Sick Brain
4. The Mirror
5. There Was A Hole Here, It's Gone Now
6. My Special Place
7. Remove The Black
8. Zero

Duration : Approx. 50 minutes

Visit the Lying Figures bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-06-04 by Mike Liassides
Rotten Copper
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