Random Records with Steve O
The Lillingtons - Stella SapienteSteve O - November 13, 2017
October can be a great time for a record to come out. You’ve been waiting for a good chunk of the year from when it’s announced, so you’re stoked to finally hear it. It’s late in the year, so it’s fresh in our minds when it comes time to start thinking about the bracket. If it’s a grower, that sucks, cause it’s only got a couple of weeks to convince you. But if it’s one of those records that hits you immediately, you’re hooked when it’s time to start thinking about what goes on the bracket.
Such is the case with the Lillingtons first record since 2006, Stella Sapiente. I got into the Lillingtons through their classic – 1999’s Death by Television. We were hanging out in DeKalb somewhere when Henry Brawlins put it on—it had that sci-fi, somewhat spooky vibe, mixed with straight up fun Ramones-core and the distinct voice of Kody Templeman (of Teenage Bottlerocket). I was hooked, but I never really listened to any of their other records all that much. But when they released the first single off Stella Sapiente, “Insect Nightmares,” I knew this was gonna be a good one. There’s an ever more haunting vibe to this record—it just feels so dark, with its mystical lyrics focused on, as Templeman says “secret societies, astrology, and the occult.” But it was “Insect Nightmares,” which I immediately connected to Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, that drew me in. “In the dead of night I’m hiding in my bed / That’s when the bugs come alive creeping through my head / They say it’s just a dream and simply nothing more / But now it’s 2 AM I’m crawling on the floor.” It’s kinda creepy, but it’s incredibly catchy. Fast paced with a little bit of melody, “Insect Nightmares” was the perfect way to tease the new record.
Album opener “Golden Dawn/Knights Templar” rises with a haunting opening riff, while the slower paces of “Night Visions” and “Cult of Dagon” give off an unsettling air. So the Lillingtons can play the slow game expertly here. “Zodiac” is another highlight; the whoas buried in the background, the catchy leads interspersed throughout, the rising tension the drums bring leading into the choruses. “Pursuit of Pleasure” brings the whoas, while “London Fog” and “Cult of Dagon” both make their chilling lyrical matter front and center. “The Walker” alternates from a calm beginning to a dramatic pitch before ending with fade out… only to lead into the record’s blazer “They Live,” flying by with some lightning fast riffs. There’s a lot here that reminds me of Crusades, from the dark melodicism and lyrics to the comfort in both slower and faster paces and a lot of haunting riffs and minor chords.
Stella Sapiente feels like a very complete record; everything fits well together under the mystical theme. Death by Television largely had the same vibe, but there’s nothing that sticks out here like “I Need Some Brain Damage.” From opener “Golden Dawn/Knights Templar” to closer “Drawing Down the Star,” with its tension inducing ending, Stella Sapiente flows magnificently. From the fast paced thrillers through the mid-tempo numbers to slower chilling odes to darkness, Stella Sapiente is solid throughout. Definitely worth the eleven year wait.
Give Stella Sapiente a listen below and follow along with the Lillingtons on facebook.