Looking for a dose of blackened melodic doom? Inspired by the subtlety, inevitability and brutality of the changing world around us, Australia’s Lithik deliver their second album, Geomorphology. The follow-up to the 2021 debut Weather The Storm, it’s out now. Crafted by veteran of the Australian metal scene Ray McGill (Bane of Isildur, Spherical, Bastardizer, Metal), Lithik is aggressive, haunting, despairing and atmospheric. McGill gave us the lowdown on the new material.
Brendan Crabb: Tell us about how the first album was received – namely, did you find you had made fans in some unexpected locations?
Ray McGill: I was happy with the response for Weather The Storm. It was interesting to see it coming up in a lot of different countries. There were great reviews from Greece and various South American countries, but I had to use Google translate to work out what was being said. It’s always pretty wild reading a review from the opposite side of the planet. There was a phrase ‘geological nihilism’ that came up in one review, which I quite liked. I’m going to use it at some point.
The first LP was written and recorded amidst a COVID-impacted world. How did the writing and recording processes differ this time around, and how do you think that affected the final album?
The music for Geomorphology was mostly written through 2021. Living in Sydney, I spent something like July to September in lockdown, so I had a lot of time on my hands and really it was a pretty similar process for writing. There was a bit more time between writing and recording this time around, which meant there was a little bit more growth from the demos to the final product.
I think the major difference between the two processes is that we spent a lot more time on things this time. Ash (Large) had recorded the drums to Weather The Storm in a day. I did all the vocals in a day. A lot of other things were done really quite quickly. For Geomorphology, I spent about three months tracking guitars and bass at home. I did vocals across three days. Ash spent a lot more time on the drums. So there was a lot more room to focus on the details in the songs, and I think there is a nice payoff for that in the final product.
Were there any new influences – musical or lyrical – that impacted on Geomorphology?
Not really any new musical influences, to be honest. I really just looked to expand on the existing musical themes. Lyrically I leaned on what had been happening on the East Coast of Australia the past few years, from the extreme fires in 2019/20 to the severe flooding in the couple of years that followed. Driving through areas of the bush that are just an expanse of blackened trees, and seeing Lake George near Canberra full of water – which I know sounds mundane if you haven’t spent much time in the area, but trust me, it’s a big deal – there were some pretty powerful and striking images to use as inspiration.
In addition to that, unfortunately my Mum lost her battle with cancer last year. On reflection, I think there was inevitably some influence from that, whether it be some lyrical phrases, or in the performances themselves. It wasn’t a conscious thing though. The underlying theme of the album is change, and the world being changed, so I guess you can read into that what you will.
Tell us about the creation of the video clip for “Germination In Fire.”
Mat (Eichorn), who has been playing bass with me, also runs Coffee and Vodka Creative, which does photography and video work. He was keen to work on something a little different to the type of work he normally does and offered to help out. He made it all remarkably easy. We literally did it in about two hours after rehearsal. Just set things up in the studio and knocked it out. I wanted something pretty simple, a bit in the style of Dissection’s “Starless Aeon,” and I think he nailed the brief. I hadn’t played the song on bass or the other guitar line in probably nine months or so, so I had to do a quick refresher and re-learn them so I looked like I knew what I was doing. It was a nice excuse to get a few different guitars out too.
How can people hear Lithik’s music, and will the new release be available in any physical formats?
All the usual places for digital streaming and on a nice gold 180g vinyl pressing that should be arriving just in time for the release. Obviously most of the world has moved to digital, but I think it is still important to have a physical release. If only because I want a copy of it for myself.
Lithik has recently begun playing live shows – how did you approach the task of selecting musicians for a live band?
It’s a slightly unusual situation, (as) depending where you see Lithik play, you’ll see a completely different set of musicians. In Perth I’m working with Cabba (guitar), Ash (drums) and Jesse (bass, vocals) from Claim The Throne. I did a few tours playing session bass with them a few years back. Ash drums on the album so already knows all the songs, they are all great musicians and it just works out easily. It is a great excuse to hang out with them a bit more too.
For the East Coast, I took a similar approach in just picking some mates. Mat (bass) and Danny (guitar) I had played with before in other bands, and Gaz (drums) I had seen play plenty of shows. They are all easy going, and it just worked out well. I was quite fortunate in that everyone I have asked said yes.
Are there any further gig-related plans aside from the album launch shows?
Definitely some plans in the works. There have been a couple of shows over the past six months and it has been great to get back on-stage. I’m hoping a few more Australian shows will fall into place for later in the year, and I’m eyeing off some international engagements for 2024.
Okay, it’s time for a hypothetical. Lithik has the opportunity to tour as opener on a four-band bill – and you can select the other three bands that you feel would best showcase your music to a new audience. Who are the other bands, and why?
Not sure the order of billing, but My Dying Bride, Primordial and Lake of Tears. Three bands I like a lot. A little bit of stylistic variety for the show to keep the punters interested. And I’d like to think fans of those bands would have an interest in Lithik’s music.
On a personal note, what music have you been enjoying lately?
Warning – Watching From A Distance (Live at Roadburn) gets a listen at least once a week. The Harvest Trail – Spree for fans of At the Gates, etc. And Panopticon – …And Again Into The Light. I actually completely missed it coming out in 2021, but have been blasting it the past few months. I loved The Scars Of Man Pt.1, and I think this one is as good if not better.
Any famous last words?
Australia to win the Ashes 2-1.
(interview published June 21, 2023)
Watch Lithik – “Germination In Fire” Video