By all accounts, Loathe’s 2017 debut album The Cold Sun was a big success. While the album itself was an interesting concoction of metalcore and some various rock and metal subgenres, with repeated listens you likely got the feeling that the young Liverpool band could take things a step further on their sophomore album. The band’s 2018 split EP with Holding Absence included two new songs, one of them being “White Hot” – a track with a chorus that their peers would kill to have written.
With the release of the first two singles from their sophomore album, “Gored” and “New Faces In The Dark”, the hype for said album reached a fever pitch for Loathe, and for good reason. The band’s core tenets – namely balancing aggression with moments of melodic, delicate beauty – had been amplified to 11. And once you listen to the entirety of ILIIAITE, you’ll realize just how ambitious Loathe prove to be as a unit.
The big talking point – amplified by Chino Moreno’s support of the band as well – is immediate comparisons to bands like Deftones. They’re certainly not unquantifiable, either. Take a track like “A Sad Cartoon”, for instance. It morphs from a shoegaze/alt-rock influenced track to one with an intense, melodic chorus. Songs like this are where you can really hear Loathe’s shoegaze influences, with bands like Hum and A Storm In Heaven-era The Verve being especially evident.
Shades of the band’s past are still there, though, in fairly standard metalcore romps like “Broken Vision Rhythm” and “Gored”. These tracks are pretty unhinged, musically speaking, and threaten to go off the rails at any moment in impressive fashion.
Interestingly, there’s even flirtations with genres that you wouldn’t expect here. The lengthy-titled “Heavy Is The Head…” is impressive in that it approaches post-black metal at times – mainly in the opening 45 seconds – and then morphing into one of the most mercilessly heavy metalcore songs of the last few years. It’s one of the many moments that will make your jaw hit the floor. Elements of film scores and even video game soundtracks abound on the title track, with ambient influences providing a fresh respite from what’s already a fairly lengthy album.
It’s even possible to get bleary-eyed with some of the somber emotions that tracks like “Is It Really You” and “Two-Way Mirror” give off in their melodicism. For Loathe it’s catharsis, but for the listener, it’s all emotion. Whether it’s the shades of dark and light that surround the album or just the fresh yet familiar energy that surrounds Loathe is up to interpretation, but it’s impressive all the same. “Two-Way Mirror” may well hit you in a way you might not expect, as well. It might be the strongest track Loathe have written to date (though that’s up for debate), as its wall of shoegaze-laden alt-rock is likely to make you feel nostalgic sentiments for the magical moments in life we often get to experience. The ones where time feels like it’s stopped.
Above all, Loathe are especially adept at paying tribute to their diverse palate of influences without also sounding derivative of them. Gifted beyond their years with songwriting acumen and impressive talent overall, it’s Loathe’s vision that ultimately wins the day overall. Without any particularly weak tracks and merging original ideas with their obvious (and somewhat less so) influences, ILIIAITE is as close to a modern classic as you can get.