Eroded by LizZardRelease date: February 19, 2021
Label: Pelagic Records
LizZard is only three musicians. You can buy into this at first, William Knox’s steady, delicate bassline accented by Mathieu Ricou’s arcing guitar-effects shimmer. ‘Corrosive’, Eroded’s opener, curls around and around on itself, and like a snake, the rattle comes at the end, as guitar line dissolves into a percussive drizzle.
But then we’re in ‘Blowdown’, with its fiery, fast guitar riffs, closely packed vocal harmonies, buzzing bassline and Katy Elwell’s complex, high-speed drumming: surely this is the work of five, six, even seven artists? The denseness, thickness of the sound is notable on this fist-pumper of a track. Two-thirds of the way through the song, it blasts into a near-metal bridge, drums popping, time signatures twitching. Ricou howls: “Blood on our hands/ We changed our world into black and white/ Hands on our face/ We burned our world into black and white”. The visceral lyrics are echoed in an intense band video by Charles Mills. By the time the track ends in a deep bass throb, the cobwebs will be blown off your brain.
LizZard are unafraid of either complexity or noise. ‘Haywire’ beats in 7/4 and makes it sound easy; it drops from full electric to an acoustic-guitar outro without breaking a sweat. ‘Hunted’ pulls a funky bassline into loud rock. ‘The Decline’ leans hard on suspended chords and sharp-edged guitar and lyrics on the verses. “Every day it pays to keep us well in line”, Micou warns, before jumping off a cliff into sweeping, shimmery chorus harmonies. His voice finds a tenor sweetness on the bridge—“I want to find you before we break apart”—then swiftly turns raw and urgent. The songwriting on Eroded is masterful.
After 15 years of playing together, Lizzard is tight – math rock tight. Elwell can anchor the most unusual time signature, and turn it on a dime; Knox and Ricou are right in the pocket. That connection allows them the luxury of glide, and bass, fuzz guitar and vocals each have their opportunity to roam. It’s art rock by engineers, metal with math sensibilities: prog with precision. Eroded benefits from clear-headed production and engineering from Peter Junge (who worked with the group on 2018’s Shift) that expands the width of the perceived sound while allowing each instrument to shine.
The second half of the album functions one long piece; the slow gorgeousness of guitar lines on ‘Usque Ad TERRAM’ (“Down to EARTH”) serves as an intro to ‘Blue Moon’, where Ricou’s vocals reach a desperate crescendo on “Time to wake up/ The moon is getting low”. The track pauses on a jazz chord, then returns to the freeform atmospheric, aching tones of ‘…TERRAM’ to lead into ‘Inertia’. A delicately picked guitar explodes into the finale of ‘Avalanche’, a head-banging, big-sound beauty with perfectly blended harmonies, Knox’s fiercest bass and muscular percussion from Elwell. Eroded winds down to a suspended guitar motif that leaves the listener perched on the edge of their seat, wanting more, wanting a resolution that—by intention for this fiercely intentional trio—will not be delivered.