(Translation Loss)

01. Forestelevision

RATING: 8/10

Bet the members of LESBIAN (all boys, though they probably DO like girls) wish they could take back that chosen band name - nowadays probably an unwanted distraction from their musical talents and not worth even the immediate and undeniable catchiness it provides.

Having said that, their choice is hardly the end of the world, never mind anything worth further analysis, given the Seattle-based quartet's steadily rising public profile over the past decade, leading up to the release of its third album, "Forestelevision", through new label, and highly respected heavy metal middle leaguer, Translation Loss.

More importantly still, while epic and progressive doom has always been LESBIAN's creative stock and trade, "Forestelevision" sees them tackling the daunting album-length song for the first time, and delivering a forty-five minute colossus, informally split into three acts (or maybe arcs) covering what at times seems like a comprehensive State of the Union address for all things metal in the third millennium?

In the beginning, there is naught but slow-building psychedelic space-doom, which LESBIAN eventually augments with throat-clawing growls and semi-orchestral backdrops (much like those favored by funeral doomsters like EVOKEN, LOSS, etc.), then rather predictable, post-hardcore acceleration matched with unnerving, ambulance siren-like patterns, that finally resolve into MAIDEN-esque gallops swathed in vamped guitar licks reminiscent of DAWNBRINGER.

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Once these taper off into placid, non-metallic acoustics and new age atmospherics, we have unofficially entered "Forestelevision"'s second act, which duly evolves back towards more violent and corrosive sounds: first thrashy staccatos matched with gruesome voices, then complex, sludge-caked riff-and-drum entanglements of an early MASTODON persuasion, and finally quasi-black metal overkill threatening to block out the very sky.

As the sonic intensity subsides yet again and one catches a breath ahead of the album's third and final chapter, perhaps we should come right out and admit that LESBIAN's album-long song experiment - while beyond competent and consistently engaging thus far - sure ain't SLEEP's "Dopesmoker" or EDGE OF SANITY's "Crimson".

Which is why the unexpected plot twist dominating its final fifteen minutes is so crucial to its final grade.

In a nutshell, once LESBIAN gets past a nicely done, Cliff Burton-approved "Orion"-type bass figure and escalating, interweaving chimes that lead us back to full fledged metallic terrain, they unleash wholly unexpected piercing falsettos a la KING DIAMOND, backed with recognizably thorny MERCYFUL FATE riffs that bring "Forestelevision" to a spectacular finish.

Amazingly, it is this fist-raising display of unselfconscious tribute by a bunch of metal fans, joyously living out childhood dreams with not a care for propriety or cohering with whats coma before that ironically elevates "Forestelevision" to must-hear status, even it doesn't quite match those aforementioned epic songs in its entirety.

Well played LESBIANs, well played...


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