Ha Winnipeg! You never cease to amaze me. These past few years, the Gateway to the Prairies has become one of the most interesting crossroads for metal genres, with bands like Psychotic Gardening, KENmode, Electro Quarterstaff, Besieged or Sabbatory, to name a few. Laika does exactly this: it takes the Gothenburg sound and blends it to something more visceral, textured, and organic.
Somnia is Laika’s third record. Founded in 2009, the band released a demo and an EP, before changing lineup and disappearing for a while, and recording this full length album. As a result, Somnia is a massive slab of melodic death metal, intelligent in design and rich in production.
This album has nine songs, including one intro (“Restless Mind”) and an instrumental (“Dream of Nothing”), for a total of about 40 minutes. The good thing with Somnia is that each song feels like a chapter of a whole, while retaining their individual character. The melodic aspect of this band comes from the guitar work: it includes a plethora of catchy hooks and melodies, a good dose of solos, but also a surprising focus on bass guitar. Played with a pick and more of a guitar playing than a free technique, the bass guitar takes as much space on this album as the guitars, bringing both excellent rhythm riffs and solos, for exemple on the excellent ”Fidelity”. Other than this, keyboards also bring a certain dose of melody, playing either the role of background arrangements or lead instrument, for exemple on “Predictions (Tide Bearer)” wich vaguely reminds me of Germany’s Crematory. As for vocals, they are growled (death metal style) by the very good Jordan Dorge (Endless Chaos, Wilt). Overall, on Somnia, the music of Laika could draw comparison with bands such as At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity, but also Alberta’s Hammerdrone to some degrees.
It however takes some considerable distances from the Gothenburg sound or melodic metal in general, thanks to the production of Ryan Forsyth, who also produced Dissolution, Endless Chaos and Noire. This gives Laika an important death metal edge, with a strong attack and a gentle saturated finish.
Among the other actors behind this album, let’s mention Filth Regime Records, a small Winnipeg label who recently released EPs from Endless Chaos and black metal Numenorean, but also the industrial-alternative Soul Killing Female and the grind band Flash Out. Last but not least, Laika’s Somnia is released in a gorgeous digipack, beautifully illustrated by talented Philippines artist Uzi Emperado. Colorful yet dark at the same time, this album is one gem of an album to own.
Get it now.
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