Album: I Let It In and It Took Everything
One of my favorite parts about writing reviews—especially having written them for over a decade now—is the opportunity to watch (and describe) a band change and develop over time. To trend their style, dynamic, energy and music as it were. Nine times out of ten—probably closer to 9.9 times out of ten, really—it manifests as the opportunity to watch a young band grow into something mature, complex and beautiful. Sure, times projects regress (or never really make it past the “start” line), but more often than not, I get to play a very minuscule part in documenting a band’s progression. Loathe are unique to me in a sense that I feel as though I’m kind of…jumping in half-way, so to speak. Having been aware of the project since their debut EP Prepare Consume Proceed, I’m familiar with them, but their 2020 full-length I Let It In and It Took Everything is the first record by the mysterious UK progressive metal-turned-metalcore outfit I have the challenging pleasure of trying to describe. To be honest, Loathe never really did it for me. Records like The Cold Sun always sounded solid, but overambitious—trying too many things and only half-succeeding in half of them. Along came I Let It In and It Took Everything. While you’ve probably read many things about flagrant Deftones worship, you’re better off just forgetting whatever preconceived notion you’ve gathered about Loathe’s latest record on social media—because there isn’t much that can truly prepare you for the experience crafted by this stunning English quintet. If you let it in, it will take everything.
Loathe brilliantly blend aggression and serenity on I Let It In and It Took Everything. Where “Theme” and “Two-Way Mirror” highlight the band’s ability to make atmospheric, dream-like soundscapes, “Aggressive Evolution,” “Screaming” and “Gored” are examples of the band channeling dissonant, primal fury. Throughout the near-hour epic that is I Let It In and It Took Everything, Loathe expertly navigate brutality, catchiness and stunning beauty. “Gored” highlights immense drumming with a driving low end that transitions the song from its driving introduction through its more placid and deceptively calm sections. Likewise, “Aggressive Evolution” and “Broken Vision Rhythm” are more examples of Loathe ripping forward on all cylinders, an amalgam of ruthless percussion, jarring fretwork and a bouncy, thick low end that gives a polished, perfunctory and punishing taste of metalcore. Then, there are songs like the recent—and critically acclaimed—single “Two-Way Mirror,” alongside “Theme” and “Is It Really You?”. Those songs see Loathe as an ethereal act, capturing elements of dreamy post-rock with groovy metal. “Two-Way Mirror” is an amazing example of this—the drums are subtle and serve as a back-bone for the delicate fretwork that sets the song apart from the efforts or their peers. I Let It In and It Took Everything is an exercise in superior song structure, creative and meticulous songwriting and a brilliantly unique heavy-soft dynamic, nothing more and nothing less.
I Let It In and It Took Everything boasts a vocal component fit to soar alongside its instrumental expertise. Loathe have established themselves as a lyrical powerhouse as far back as their debut EP, but their 2020 release sees their vocal element as a whole rise up to match. While the more aggressive cuts on the record see the band’s raw, primal screams roaring at the tip-top of their game, the real growth is heard best on “Two-Way Mirror,” and others like it (“Is It Really You? comes to mind). Here, crooned vocals weave themselves intimately betwixt layers of melancholy groove, ebbing in tune with the tide defined by steady, strong percussion. The vocals become as an instrument, working in perfect tune with Loathe’s soundscape, delivering carefully crafted lyrics that capture the mystery and deep-seated introspection that comes from the record’s title. Between the singing, screaming and moments of instrumental bliss, every aspect of Loathe’s vocals keeps the listener guessing, primed at their edge of their seats.
I’ve never been that into Loathe—but I Let It In and It Took Everything is the first record theirs I’ve not only liked, but gotten totally lost in. While the back half of the record strays dangerously close to monotony, and the near-hour run time might be a little much for some fans less invested in progressive music, this record is still an experience. Somewhere between progressive metalcore, post-metal and nu-metal, Loathe have brought out the best in themselves and created a truly memorable and mesmerizing experience.
For Fans Of: Deftones, Sworn In, TesseracT, Loser
By: Connor Welsh