Lineage and tradition are both firmly tied up in each individual music genre, and, once the hairs begin to split, even each subgenre possesses its own significance. Culture and semiotics are a swirling mess in modern music, and thank the gods for that. Any band that functions as a breeding ground of influences thus combines the values found in each genre. The interaction of sound is almost as fascinating as the potential interaction of fully realized, and often oppositional ideologies. With that factor, Melbourne, Australian post-punk/militant folk outfit Lakes embodies the dissimilarities found in the left and right, the punk and the martial; all is unified under a single banner. A near perfect amalgamation of several of the foundational English sounds sets Lakes apart from the majority. A little Joy Division, a little Strength Through Joy, a little early Fields of the Nephilim.
Although, a unique brand of darkness is struck up by the sneering, reckless spearhead of Sean Bailey, and certainly much more is at work on the latest, and fifth, offering “Blood Of The Grove” than mere emulation. Wild, dissimilar imagery is instantly evoked by the music alone – desolate urban isolation, pagan martial war, synthetic Eastern textures, smoky gothic brooding – and it is here in the listener’s imagination that the interlaced semiotics go to work. However, above all pretentious observations, the record exudes punk rock through and through. There is a living spirit manifest that is free from ideology or conventionality. In this disregard and brash execution lies the real soul of the coalesced sound. Lakes provides an intersecting point for fully fleshed out identities, each stemming from the same iconoclastic, unifying drive.
Each stomping and visceral track drives steadily onward with a militant momentum that dictates the tone of the whole entity. The percussion is pounding and simplistic, never relenting for more than a moment. One part war-drum and one part ritual percussion – not only is this a call to arms but a spiritual assault! Folksy acoustic chords are not just strummed but hammered underneath the milieu of martial barrage. In tandem with an electric guitar and bass, the blended guitar tones create a strangely Eastern flavour, as if a droning sitar reverberates from the background amplifying the mystery. There is something removed from these expressions of scorn and esoterica: a complete stoicism guides the feeling of each song. A monotone vocal delivery orates with a snide sarcasm that drips with punk contempt. The rebellious attitude that naturally comes with such a decision and delivery makes things far more interesting. A mysterious martial attack is easily understood – especially in the terms presented above – however, with the addition of a punk rock sensibility, traditionally anti-authoritarian and atheistic, an additional dimension distorts any expectations even further. At any given moment one can feel any or all three thematic elements at work. In fact, this added element preserves a far more dangerous feel to “Blood Of The Grove“. It is one of a maverick, of a renegade, spiritually ready for war and unafraid to obliterate any traditional rules.
Esoterically, there is something percolating within Lakes that is very hard to put a solid finger on. Which, ultimately, is the greatest measure of success in transmitting the proper willed intention. There is no tradition amongst the traditional – further perpetuating the greater meeting of forces. All of a sudden the outwardly manifested feeling of battle has receded within, and takes on far greater significance. (Of course, one cannot know and these are mere speculations from one with a similar mindset.) There appears to be a great degree of personally crafted spirituality at play. Invented sigils and an ever present mysterious darkness preserves the proper atmosphere, never watered down and wholly internalized. As it should be.
Lakes has long honed a sound appealing to all connoisseurs of dark fringe music, and it is not surprising that their fifth record is the absolute perfected balance. Thankfully all has finally migrated across the sea and been exposed to a legion of like-minded. What is seemingly a straightforward ode to the post-punk, goth, and martial scenes becomes a far deeper, perplexing beast once the focus is turned inward. One can easily appreciate a simplicity and total listenability, and the same appreciation grows exponentially when contemplating what is really at work beneath the surface. Never should anything be taken at face value or simply regurgitated. Applying the same rebellious nature to all elements of art and ideology is a guiding force worthy of embrace, and, once again, the constant rejection that embodies the purist punk ethos is to blame. A banner that ultimately unites all antithetical forces.
01) Blood Of The Grove
02) The Oldest Place
03) Crossed With Leaves
04) Night Lark
05) Wingless & Earthbound
06) Visitation Dawn
07) All The Waking Dreams
08) The Longest Reign
09) Ashes Black
10) Painted Wreath