Loma Prieta - IV (Cover Artwork)

Loma Prieta

IV (2012)

Deathwish Inc.

Ever been sucker-punched? I have. It sucks. One minute you're talking to your friend and the next you're on the ground trying to figure out what the hell just happened. Loma Prieta's fourth studio album, aptly titled IV, gave me pretty much the same experience, only in a good way.

I have been following Loma since their phenomenal 2006 LP, Last City. If you have ever wondered what Converge and Orchid would sound like if they had some crazy babies, this it is. Loma started out as more of a traditional screamo (sorry for using the term, but it does apply) band that could have been likened to Usurp Synapse for the heavy portions and La Quiete for the quieter stuff. Over the past five years their sound has morphed into a much heavier and hairier beast than most would have imagined after their demo release in 2005.

Nearly abandoned are the soft jazzy interludes. This album is thick. It is chaotic. At times, it's a little confusing because there is so much going on in such a short period of time. An average Loma track is about a minute and thirty seconds of nonstop noise. This noise, at first, seems pretty random, but with each repeat spin the listener can pick up on the "melodies" and timing of the riffs. Be warned, this is not for most listeners, as this is one of the heaviest albums I have heard in a long time.

The album starts with "Fly by Night," which is a perfect example of how this band can shred like crazy, yet retain and incorporate a catchy solo riff that meshes with the noise and propels the entire song into a two-and-a-half-minute epic. Each track is 100 percent screamed, with no clean or gang vocals. Some songs have a call and response structure with the vocals, most notably "Trilogy 4: Momentary," which is quite possibly the heaviest song on here. The high points on the album include the openers, "Uniform" and "Biography", as these tracks are much more distinguishable due to the less somber and more unconventional instrumental arrangements (Orchid's "Tiger" comes to mind).

The small stain on this otherwise fantastic record are the similarities between some of the songs. This isn't such a bad thing when those songs are all pretty great to begin with, but I could understand someone saying, "It all sounds the same".

Although the entire album clocks in at less than 25 minutes, this is still the record to beat in 2012 for any heavy band. I have the feeling that these guys are relatively obscure at the moment, but with this amazing release on Deathwish, I don't expect that to last much longer.