Lysithea. A small moon of the planet Jupiter, one of Zeus’ lovers in Greek mythology and also the name of a dynamic Dunedin-based death/doom metal duo. ‘Realms’ is the title of Lysithea’’s recently finished second album and the digital release has already won them more fans in this remote planet’’s metal blogosphere. Jamie McCaskill talked with instrumentalist Mike Lamb and the death growl-voiced Mike Wilson about keeping it together from a growing distance.
The mythologically handled Lysithea was established by Mike Lamb in 2008 as an initially solo instrumental atmospheric metal project. Friend and collaborator Mike Wilson joined in the fun and together they made the move towards a more melodic death/doom metal sound with a debut 2014 album, ‘‘The Secret Fate of All Life’’.
Quickly selling out of physical copies of that album, the duo soon began work on a second album, ‘’Realms’’, that has already had some fantastic reviews. American-based metal website Dead Rhetoric gave the digital release an 8/10 rating saying, ‘Lysithea manage to cater to both the doom and melodic death crowds in equal favor with ‘Realms’.’
Mike Wilson is now based in Wellington, where he studied live sound and event production, while Lamb remains in Dunedin, having finished a degree in science communication. They manage to work together-apart, creating their next songs’ sound before meeting up for recording, mixing and mastering.
“We both have modest recording set ups but we just flick our tracks back and forth before Mike [Wilson] comes down to Dunedin to record the vocals.”
Both having input in the songwriting, the mix of atmospheric doom metal topped with Wilson’’s vocals makes for an energised, pacey sound which takes the listener on an epic journey.
“We like each other’s style and they go pretty well together.”
Each feel their musicality is a lot more mature than when they used to play in metal bands, where they would try to fit in as many riffs as they could. So what is it that they play?
“Doom metal is made up of a slow tempo and tends to be long drawn out songs with an emphasis of atmosphere rather than technicality,” explains Wilson, in contrast with death metal which “…… is a lot heavier and has more riffs.”
There is also that unmistakable harsh vocal, sometimes called the ‘’death growl’’. Listening to Wilson talk you can feel the resonance and power that comes from within for his vocals, though it’s a new found skill.
“I just thought I’’d give it a go and it kind’’a worked out well. The last album was my first attempt.”
Lamb started writing music for his own Lysithea by himself, which was all-instrumental until the new Mike joined in 2012. Rather than trying to put vocals over his old stuff the two created a new sound, fusing death and doom metal together.
‘‘The two styles were merged by some bands in the early to mid ’90s so that fusion is pretty widespread now,’ one blogger has noted. ‘The addition of a vocalist (who also plays guitar) has expanded the band’s sound and songwriting style. Reminiscent of Daylight Dies, Draconian and all those other classic melodic/doom bands out there. Very highly recommended.’
Influenced by bands such as My Dying Bride and Katatonia, the two aren’t shy of admitting their appreciation for cheesy melodic music. Both admit to a secret love of ’80s music.
“If we had the ability we’d probably both be playing extremely cheesy up-tempo music with ridiculous wails, but we just can’t pull it off,” Wilson laughs.
They enjoy listening to metal and that is what they want to play. Both are very motivated so there’s no shortage of shared ambition and passion. Lamb and his wife are soon moving to Scotland for three years, so the collaboration is going to go from long distance to super-long distance.
“Nothing will change except recording the vocals and mixing and mastering together.”
Physical separation has so far proven to be no major hurdle and the two plan on keeping the music alive as their fan base continues to grow. Already enjoying the feeling of having international fans they plan to make every album bigger and better than the last.
“If an opportunity to play at some metal festival in Europe came up we would jump at it,” reckons Wilson, but with only the two of them in the band they would need to bring in other musicians, such as a drummer and keyboardist, to come close to the sound they create in the studio.
“Recording is a fun and liberating thing to do. You can just do what you want. We both came from playing in live bands so we really hope to have a live show one of these days,” he confesses.