Lutharö – Wings of Agony
Release Date: March 27, 2020
Hamilton, Canada’s Lutharö is churning out its own signature brand of classic melodic death metal. The quintet, fronted by the dynamic vocals of Krista Shpperbottom, alongside guitarists John Raposo and Victor Bucur, have been crafting their musicianship and songwriting chops together since 2014. This marks the bands third EP over that span. It is the first to feature bassist Chris Pacey. Duskwalker drummer Cale Costello handled stick and pedal duties on Wings of Agony, though Duval Gabraiel took over drum duties after the EP was finished.
Wings of Agony is the follow up to 2018’s crushing offering, Unleash the Beast. In taking in this EP I was first caught up in the darkly tormented cover art by Costin Chioreanu, which sets the tone for what the band will bring to the table. The EPs opening track, “Barren” is aptly cinamatic . After the portentous intro builds, Shipperbottom lets out a soaring wail as the band dives into a cacophony of galloping rhythms and crisp riffage. Costello’s drumming is immediately impressive. Krista shifts from a clean wail to snarling growls on the verses and then bounces back and forth between harsh and cleans on the chorus. Her vocal dexterity is skilled and appealing. The band’s own shifts between brutal and melodic passages give the song excellent balance.
The onslaught continues on “Diamond Back” which is even more aggressive than the opener. It’s like listening to Arch Enemy and Unleash the Archers in a knuckleduster brawl. The EP’s midpoint, “Blood Lightening” has more of a grandiose and dramatic power metal charge to it. Muscular riffs and some of the best solo assaults on the EP are captured here. Shipperbottom continues to maneuver deftly between her caustic growls and her biting and soaring cleans.
“Will to Survive” comes at you like someone just drop kicked a hornet’s nest, with the staccato guitars bursts swarming about like angry insects. This is like Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years” on meth. I’m reminded a bit of Triosphere’s “Relentless” which is also an apt descriptor of this track. Costello is a pummeling beast as he drives the song with implacable ferocity. This might be my personal favorite.
The EP closes out with the title track, which is rather perfect as it brings together all the varied elements that have been on display through the first four songs. An atmospheric and foreboding guitar intro that is equal parts Metallica and Mercyful Fate begins the journey, with Shipperbottom serving up an agonized and dire cry. This shifts into thrashing riffage and gutteral vocals. Raposo and Bucur trade off leads down the stretch and Krista counterpoints clean chorus vocals with that mournful wail. There’s even an ominous piano outro that ties back into the feel of the album cover.
With Wings of Agony, Lutharö has blended together everything it’s learned over the last half decade to create its most well-rounded offering to date. Taking nothing away from the magnificent Unleash the Beast, the band has emphasized its successes from that EP and progressed to a new level. If you enjoy the aforementioned bands mentioned in this review, then you’re bound to find Lutharö a fit for your headbanging pleasure.