Loma Prieta – ‘Self Portrait’ Review

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

One of the greatest things about Deathwish Records is almost every release is going to be consistent in creative ability as well as fierce emotion. Loma Prieta are just another example of a sonically different experience within a hardcore spectrum. Their sound ranges and exhibits an extreme range of diversity throughout their fifth album, Self Portrait. Formed in 2005, the group is only coming more and more into their sound, even after a decade of showcasing their talent in the first place.

One comparison I can make is the band has a feel like that of Fucked Up or Self Defense Family. It’s not that these bands sound similar, it is more the fact that they have their own sound. When you try to explain what Fucked Up sound like, it becomes, “well, they sound like Fucked Up.” Trying to even find a single band comparable to what Loma Prieta put forth on their newest release is difficult. They have influences of post-hardcore angst (Desaperacidos), gazed black metal (Deafheaven) and even frustrated noise (Converge). Like many of their albums before this, Self Portrait offers a different experience to the average listener on just their opening track ‘Love.’ 

While still maintaining the ability to blend such a vast amount of styles, the group also are able to really beat home a bigger sound. Instead of constantly sounding like coming from a deep pit, like on their album Life/Less, the mix is bigger and more full. Attribute that to Jack Shirley (Deafheaven) and that the band decided to write songs featuring more melodies, giving them a new sound altogether. It’s evident in a track like ‘Roadside Cross’ where the vocals are urgent yells of desperation backed by beaming guitars. It’s this colorful approach that makes Self Portrait feel that much more fresh. The song radiates with a bright chord progression shackled by a vivid orchestration of motifs. ‘More Perfect’ is an emotional rupture of dazzling guitar licks and actual hummable melodies. It’s track like these that leave listeners in a daze of luxuriant joy. Oh, wait, what just happened in the middle of ‘More Perfect’? I spend the time to detail such beauty and then was hit by a backlash of dissonant licks, but rather a stream of noise Loma Prieta keep their discordant section dazzled up by high end guitars. The post-rock bridge section is equally as delightful to slip out of the noise into, creating a vicious contrast of music that any fan with a diverse palette will enjoy. On a side note, the small bombastic section demonstrates how quick this band can begin an abrasive assault, like the entirety of ‘Black Square.’ 

Unlike previous efforts, as a whole the music feels more approachable. They have closed the door on being drowned in abstract noise and are instead swimming through the racket with – dare I say – enjoyable moods? ‘Satellite’ is the most favorable song on the album due to it’s inventive atmosphere. The track is an experimental debut for Loma Prieta, who decided to transpose a six minute epic and stuffed it full of lush guitars and a constant pulse of drums. All the instruments work together to establish their emotive closing track as a must hear from Self Portrait

Score: 7.9/10

Pick up the album here! http://store.deathwishinc.com/category/LOMAPRIETA.html