Formed in the spring of 2020, beneath the dark clouds of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders, lowheaven’s sound oscillates somewhere between post-hardcore, screamo, blackened noise, and metal. The Toronto band consists of Dan Thomson (vocals/guitar), Mikey Buchta (vocals/bass) and Alex Pley (guitar/keys). Thomson, formerly of Canadian post-hardcore band Sparrows, explains candidly, “We’re not a happy listen, lowheaven is something that has got a lot of weight.” Their debut EP, collapse,explores the sensations of unease and pain through its ever shifting style, with aggressive screams one moment and ominous metal guitar work the next.
Sonically, lowheaven is difficult to place. They take just as much influence from bands like Converge and Isis as they do from acts like Deftones. Similar to the latter, lowheaven refuses to be constrained by their heavy image, preferring to experiment with genre and dynamics on each release. collapse,while undoubtedly earnest in its intensity, is underscored by a sound that can best be described as metalcore nostalgia, likely due to their 90s influences. In fact, bassist Mikey Buchta once described the group as “if Radiohead was equal parts black metal and flower fields.”
The band, who watched David Cronenberg films on repeat in the studio while recording, casts an eeriness over the EP. This can best be heard on the outro of “buried in.” The octave runs channel the soundtracks of films like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. This anguish hangs heavy over the rest of the tracks as well, swelling on the final song, “of us away”, where Thomson’s tortured screams intertwine with bellowing, black metal vocals.
collapseshowcases lowheaven’s range, where melodic post-hardcore tracks catapult into screamo. The EP begins and ends with its two heaviest songs, and offers a reprieve from the ear splitting vocals and overdriven guitars with “retreated prime” and “buried ina.” On these softer tracks, lowheaven reflect on narcissism, religion, and self-medication. The heavier tracks offer a taste of lowheaven’s brutal force. Like a true vinyl EP, each side demonstrates just who lowheaven is.