Heavy music fans, beware: LO, the second full-length from Halifax-via-Toronto psych/metal/drone band Crosss is one of the most ambitious and genetically diverse recordings Canada has seen since Fucked Up put out Hidden World in 2006. Not only is it an amazing album in its own right, it also seamlessly blends elements of east-coast psych rock into Sunn O)))-levels of distortion and doom, creating something that is both wholly new and warmly familiar. LO does the impossible and appeals just as much to psych-rock purists as it does to old-school metalheads.
Since 2013’s Obsidian Spectre, Crosss have changed members, added another member to their now-trio and moved out of their Nova Scotia home and into the blisteringly diverse Ontario music community; the move has treated them extremely well. LO benefits immensely from Toronto’s unavoidable sea of multicultural influences while retaining the band’s signature gloominess. The album opens strong with the band’s lone single, “Interlocutor”, which begins with a heavy guitar line following along to singer Andrew March’s nasal vocal delivery, before upping the doom with overwhelming distortion and walls of noise. In many ways, Crosss could be favourably compared to the highly influential metalcore band Converge, substituting a ludicrous tempo and double-kick flailing for a tempered meter and a flair for the theatrical.
LO’s lone faltering note comes at its half-way point with “Dance Down”, an ill-fitting acoustic piece that puts all its chips in March’s voice to carry it through to completion. Instead of a welcome respite from the screaming guitar chugging, “Dance Down” comes off feeling like a soggy recording of a renaissance fair’s bard. In one way, it succeeds in making the audience all the more excited for another aggressive track, but the lackluster “My Body” fails to deliver the punishment that the first half of the record so greedily supported.
It’s LO’s second half, all entombed within a single song called “Enthroning The 4 Acts”, that will make or break the entire record for its listeners. At a whopping 18 minutes long, it eschews every musical idea that the first eight tracks so frantically explore, and instead is a tremendously extended ambient piece composed of treacherous noise, grinding feedback, and Gothic mimicry. As part of the album proper, it is a radical and gutsy inclusion, since it is so at odds with the psych and metal influences that the band channels at the beginning of the record. Nevertheless, this track is as epic in scope as it is in content, channelling Earth at their most reserved and Stars Of The Lid at their most verbose. It is every bit as fascinating a medley of sounds as the title track and its brethren, but in such a different vein as to be ultimately refreshing.