It’s been a busy year for this Spanish trio after a four-year stretch that saw them release just a single track. In August we joined with them for the release of their Enthraller EP, and a mere three months later we’re back with the exciting news that we’ll also be delivering their followup LP Leteo. Though working from a post-metal template familiar to the majority of our listener base, Le temp du loup is ever chasing methods of using that established framework to explore metaphysical concepts that often spring forth from legends and mythologies. However, what makes their music distinctly intriguing is how, rather than giving ideas space within an already-established compositional approach, they instead allow those ideas to lead the way during the writing process, and any transformations of their sound are viewed as welcome evolutions. On Enthraller this shifting of sonic philosophy was more explicit, as witnessed in the sixteen-and-a-half minute, electronically-propelled freeform re-imagining of the EP’s first three tracks that consumes the entirety of Side B. Here, the representation of their conceptual foundation is subtler and more abstract, needing some help to be sussed out. But once its aim is understood Leteo takes on an even more substantial and profound weight.
Taking its name from one of the five rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology, Leteo revolves around ideas of choice and consequence as they relate to death and afterlife. In the stories of myth, the Lethe was the river of forgetfulness, from which transitioning souls would drink in order to erase their memories and become reincarnated. There are stories that also tell of the river Mnemosyne, whose waters had the opposite effect, preserving all the memories of those who consumed its waters. Leteo seeks to explore the dynamic surrounding these two choices, each of which have their benefits and drawbacks, joys and sadnesses.
In order to represent this, the band looked to channel the energy and emotions tied to this choice, and allow them to guide their hands during the writing process. To help achieve this goal, they brought on Santi Garcia to mix Leteo, which they feel has given the record a thicker and more pronounced sound than their previous work. The resulting collection is perhaps more contemplative and less explosive than their 2018 LP Cardinal, but it is also richer in its foundations, built on the instincts and chemistry of the band members. A track like “Dopo tenebre, spero la luce” exhibits the confidence necessary to allow the composition to unfold in its own time, never overplaying its hand by diving into its more aggressive tendencies too quickly. Instead, its mournful melodic sensibilities are given room to breathe, grow, and impact the listener. This in turn allows its finale to shine even brighter when the volume is turned up and introspection gives way to resounding force.
“Sihaya” opens with a more propulsive energy, though even in that context it feels like the song is less about punishing the listener than it is about affecting the listener, which is quite a different focus. The drums and bass on this track are particularly muscular, providing a potent counterpoint to guitars that convey a sense of melancholy even in their louder moments. It’s an impressive balancing act that results in a song that presents as very naturally compelling while functioning as it does on the back of some more nuanced complexities that remain just beneath the surface.
Lest potential listeners believe that Leteo is composed entirely of pensive thought and brooding performance, we should look also to the album-closing “T’oublier,” which gradually transitions from its quiet beginnings into possibly the most powerful performance the band has put forth to date. Introduced by some assertive hi-hat work, the track’s second half layers thick bass with feverishly rendered guitar melodies, which build considerable momentum until suddenly everything stops and the only sound is the anxious thrust of percussion and the sensational promise of pick scrapes that sneer and swell in anticipation of what’s to follow. And what follows is a raucous, joyous culmination of all the careful consideration and measured staging that has preceded it. Two and a half minutes of three musicians who are intrinsically bonded but individually flourishing, letting loose every ounce of fury within them in a grand display of power.
If you seek the meeting point of strength and intellect, a record with imposing conceptual aims and the dexterity needed to soar to such heights, you’ll want to drink deeply of Leteo.
Shipping early February 2023