Lo-Pan – Subtle (2019)

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Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Lo-Pan formed in 2005, and have released 3 albums and an EP to date.  Their latest release, entitled Subtle, is out today, and while it doesn’t see the band adding any new tricks to its arsenal, it does build upon what they do so well.

10 Days opens the album with fuzzy guitars from Chris Thompson, and settles in to a groove that is very easy to nod your head to.  The vocals from Jeff Martin (no, not the guy from The Tea Party) are quite good, even if they might be a little to proud in the mix.

Savage Heart features some of Martins best vocal work, not just on this album, but ever, soaring against the “stoner rock” backdrop.  As we shift in to Ascension Day, we’re treated to another mammoth groove, and some great guitar accents for good measure.  The rhythm section provided by Skot Thompson on bass and Jesse Bartz on drums, is certainly not flashy, but perfect at what they do.  And all for the greater good of the songs.

Sage sees the band head into a different territory, at least to begin with, before settling in to another unyielding groove.  That understated rhythm section really comes to the forefront of this song, particularly the bass.   For Everything Burns Lo-Pan deliver a more doom inspired track.  It’s moody and relentless as it creeps toward its climax some six minutes later.

Old News opens with a jangly guitar introduction, before becoming possibly the most straight forward rock track of the album, while Bring Me A War heads back to familiar territory of stoner rock grooves, and another epic vocal performance from Jeff Martin.

A Thousand Miles plays with timing and makes for a very interesting track.  Khan is heavy, in that slow and brooding way.  It’s not fast or aggressive, it just has a weight to it that is hard to ignore.  A sure fire highlight of the album for me.

Butcher’s Bill is another track that clocks in at over six minutes.  Neither repetitive or boring, this song makes great use of its time, and takes the band through all of the styles that they have showcased on Subtle.  Final track The Law & The Swarm closes us out with more relentless grooves, and some great lead work to leave us on a high note.

Overall Subtle is a really solid album, and well worth the listen.

7/10

Review by Shayne McGowan

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