Originally written for Punknews.org:
I have to admit, I was a little disappointed upon first hearing The Locust's most recent album, "New Erections". It seemed as if there was not very much variety in the songs and they all seemed to follow a similar formula (spazz-out to death dirge to weird hazy sounds). These songs are longer than on previous full lengths, allowing the band more room to jam, which is not really a bad thing, but I felt as if they weren't using the extended time format to really craft something new. Now, far be it for me to deduct points from a band for experimenting with their established sound; the problem here is that The Locust are really just releasing the same sort of thing as before in an extended format.
Maybe it was because I had such high hopes for this album. I came to really enjoy their previous EP and hoped that their new CD would be following the same idea with more of a musical arc to it. The answer to that hope is a mix of yes's and no's.
Yes, The Locust have expanded their sound, not only in experiment, but also in production quality. Listen to "New Erections" and follow it up with "Plague Soundscapes"; the difference in quality is immense.
No, The Locust have not crafted a memorable sonic arc throughout their album. Each song simply comes and goes, it all feels unrelated and ends on a lackluster note (albeit, the abrupt ending was surely intentional).
Yes, The Locust are still headed in a good direction. Despite my disappointment initially, many of the songs on this album are pretty good on their own. "Full Frontal Obscurity" has a great fist-pumping chant of "This hegemony is hard at work!", while "God Wants Us All To Work In Factories" is filled with infectious energy.
No, The Locust have not perfected their bouts with experimentation. Opener "Aotkpta" ends up turning into a churning Mastadon b-side (which, despite how interesting that might sound, ultimately fails). "Book of Bot" becomes an ambient electronic drone in the second half that doesn't really serve to accent the music before it or after it -- it just feels dropped in.
Yes, many of the new experiments succeed greatly. Most notably, "Scavenger, Invader" uses only a handful of electronic buzzes and bass pulses, but ends up working out really well. It takes the slow plodding that failed in the end of "Aotkpta" and makes it work. The end of "The Unwilling... Led By The Unqualified... Doing The Unnecessary... For The Ungrateful" recalls some of the newer work by beloved label-mates Converge.
No, I haven't given up hope on The Locust. I feel like this album is simply the transition away from what they've been doing for years, into a more furtive territory of creativity. Only time will tell, I suppose. The Locust usually aren't predictable and nothing on this disc has convinced me that any other ThreeOneG-style band has dethroned these guys as the kings of their genre.