Originally being released a few years ago, the Finnish Sludge/Doom metal aberration known as Lurk re-release their third album “Fringe” via Transcending Obscurity Records on Digital, CD and Vinyl formats, the latter including a super rare box set containing all sorts of cool stuff including an A2 poster of the striking cover artwork!
Speaking of which, the artwork presents an excellent prelude into what’s to come, it was created by Adam Burke whos surreal mix of landscape, predator and death marries up with this release perfectly. The words “Dark” and “Mysterious” get thrown around a lot with this band and upon hitting the play button it’s blatantly apparent why. The listener is given a warning by a procession of 4 notes played from what sounds like a guitar that is crawling from the depths of hell courtesy of the track “Ostrakismos”, the greek word for “Ostracized”. The mostly instrumental track flares with arpeggiated brilliance set to a background theme of primal sonic atmosphere of openness and empty-ness that entices the listener in deeper, offering a soundscape that is disturbing yet beautiful until finally being swallowed whole by dissonance, growls and feedback in an explosion of rapture. It reminds me of a mix between Neurosis and Mastodon in style.
This journey continues with “Tale Blade”. Initially marching on to a simple yet intense riff that you can easily nod your head to while wearing a satisfying scowl on your face and feeling like you’re ripping through death itself. Just as you’re ready to stab at the heart of hate, the music morphs into an intelligent and highly musical weightlessness that teases respite.
There’s an overbearing expression of disdain emanating from vocalist Kimmo Koskinen that is highly emotionally charged. It can be difficult to understand the lyrics as they are written in a deliberate and cryptic way describing a varied, ever-changing, unquenchable revenge that will be delivered upon the gods themselves in return for the way humanity was created, as being outcasts from another plane of existence. I’m speculating a meaning there, but in attempting to understand the lyrics, there is a sense of poetry and they are beautifully written.
As much as I’d love to continue to describe the album in a blow by blow format, I think here is a good place to switch gears as I REALLY would not like to give too much away. That being said, “Fringe” is complex behemoth that changes time signatures in unexpected places yet remains feeling completely natural, blends clean and gritty guitar tones at almost all times,creates a void like space in the ambience of the drums and some unusual bass work that sometimes compliments the guitar and other times stands in its own space doing its own thing. You can expect a veritable swathe of Metal and Rock styles, principally Doom and Sludge combined with tinges of Death, Black, Melodic as well as echoes of Folk stylings in places all while remaining progressive throughout.
Variation is key to this release, with nothing ever really remaining in the one place for too long which to me is an appreciated quality as this is written to be uncomfortable and malevolent.
It is also an intense demonstration that Metal has no requirement for speed and shredding. In fact it almost proves that the opposite is true, that a downtempo bludgeoning will be felt, understood and suffered far longer than a fast paced decapitation. Of course, I’m speaking purely in metaphor here and I must stress that because this release isn’t simply about death destruction chaos filth and greed, it’s about blowing off steam effectively and with proper technique. That might sound psychotic, but “Fringe” by Lurk is in some ways is an exercise for the soul. You never know, in the unending atmosphere of this album, you might just find yourself.
Pick-up your copy of ‘Fringe’, out now via Transcending Obscurity Records, HERE!