Lice Woe Betide You

Lice Woe Betide You
7
When it was announced that a collaboration between Teitanblood and Shining members was imminent, one immediately fortifies oneself against the expectation of an all-out onslaught from two of the most extreme groups in modern metal. That assumption makes Lice's debut full-length even more striking, in how it takes skirts around all expectations, resulting in one of the most surprising releases of this year.
 
The instrumental opener, "Beyond Eternal Recurrence," informs the listener immediately that Lice are not the frantic, bludgeoning chaos of Teitanblood, but a strange outgrowth of post-rock weightlessness and jazz-infused subtlety. Any doubt as to this direction is immediately quashed in the wake of "Layers of Dirt," which builds from a state of quiet to tragic cataclysm that cuts deeper than one would ever expect. Shining vocalist, Niklas Kvarforth stands out in his ability to make the listener both pity and despise him through his unorthodox range.
 
Lice skip back and forth between shoegaze, post-rock and the frantic antagonism of black metal, or else blend them entirely, all while supported by a drum performance that spices the compositions with some stealthy jazz technicality.
 
But for all its strength, "Layers of Dirt" is a detriment to subsequent tracks, which rarely seem to pay off like their early predecessor. But Lice manage to end strong with the final songs, "Pride Eraser" and "...And So the Ceaseless Murder of the World Came to an End," which highlights Lice's songwriting ability, as well as their fearlessness in bizarre, sudden shifts that come and go on a whim.
 
Woe Betide You proves itself as a legitimate force of interesting music, and not merely a "supergroup" gimmick. Even under the weight of its own flaws, which themselves are brought on by the band's potential lethality, Lice manage to stand tall and deliver a quality work. (Season of Mist)