Whenever Pelagic Records announces the addition of a new, rather unknown act, I start to wonder and feel excited because that often meant a chance to discover a great new act in the past. When they announced the addition of French Prog-Metal trip Lizzard to the fold, I immediately checked out their older stuff and then my excitement for the new full-length “Eroded” became a bit stronger. When listening to it again and again I noticed that there is something in their music I don’t like, the vocals. However, after listening to the new record a few times, I felt a certain pull by these exactly same vocals which then led to me re-visiting the older stuff as well. And – voila! - I now can proclaim that the vocal delivery and style by Mathieu Ricou are one of the things that work best for me on “Eroded”.
The trio consisting of Ricou on guitars and vocal duties, Katy Elwell on the drums and William Knox on the bass delivers a very tight performance that was recorded, produced and mixed by Peter Junge in Röhrsdorf, Eastern Germany in a month of full concentration on that record. “Eroded” is their fourth full-length since they became a band in 2006 and it definitely shows the band at the peak of their abilities.
When listening to the record, there are two comparisons that sprung to my mind rather quickly – Motorpsycho and Soen, there could be worse parallels, right? The vocals are clean and well-sung (like Joel Ekelöf’s vocals for Soen), Mathieu breathes life into them by giving them exactly the amount of sharpness they need for their dance with the proggish cascades and riffs collapsing over the audience’s heads with the guitars leading the drills that led to the mountain falling down; of course these chunky riffs and proggish parts are the mental bridge to Norway’s masters around Bent Saether and Hans Magnus Ryan. Compare the second track “Blowdown” and you will notice how the guitar lines try to “outduel” each other – really good work (also on behalf of the mixing engineer). One can totally imagine Mathieu holding the guitar on his upper leg and riffing it out while at the same time mesmerizing us with some wonderful vocals. On the other side there are many very intimate moments, when small, tiny arpeggios and licks are Mathieu’s weapons of choice to create moody and thoughtful songs, for example the wonderfully light and flowing interlude “Usque Ad Terram” which leads directly into the next track “Blue Moon”. These moments show that Lizzard are also able to incorporate some very direct post-rock emotions into their record without these standing apart from the other tracks.
One should also not forget the rhythm section of Katy and William who do an outstanding job, not simply following Mathieu’s lines but also giving a lot to the soundscapes themselves – notice the heavy, grungy basslines in “Flood” where William’s bass often dominates and Katy’s effective, chippy use of the hi-hat and cymbals is really giving the song a lively feeling. The two give the song that edge that it deserves and the moments when the stop for half a breath are just brilliant. It will be interesting to see how they perform such tight songs on stage.
To put it all in a nutshell – Lizzard is definitely a very good addition to Pelagic’s roster, they might not be a hit factory but they give us a record that is a real grower if one is willing to give it some spins. It’s like one of these good 90s records which did not convince at first glance but rather on third or fourth listen. These are often the records that hold up best!