Sound — 9
The world of technical metal is an exciting one. An exhilarating area of music where bands are unshackled by the concern for radio airplay and widespread acceptance that plagues mainstream artists. Where metalheads from all disciplines, be it groove, death, avant-garde, prog, thrash, or many others in between, can walk around proudly with their classical and jazz fusion influences worn on their sleeve, united in the desire to test the boundaries of their ability and unleash mindf--k time signatures on the world. However, this beautiful musical haven seems to be dominated by bands that appear to be missing the point entirely; cramming as many notes into as little time as possible, stubbornly refusing to play in a consistent time signature like a petulant toddler, liberally splashing sweeping sections and chromatic runs around the place, oblivious to the fact that technical ability is not an ends in itself. A couple of minutes later, when their musical masturbation has reached an unsatisfying and messy climax, you're left there, wondering how a group of people with such technical ability could create something so devoid of substance, so utterly unmemorable.
Lyrics — 9
Lethargy are a band that, while they had a very devoted fan base during their active years and came from a very fruitful and exciting scene, are still generally unknown to the metal world. Mastodon fans may be familiar with the name, as Lethargy boasted half of Mastodon's current line up (guitarist Bill Kelliher and drummer Brann Dailor). However, where the Atlantan leviathans emphasise colossal grooves and atmospheric sonics, Lethargy are out and out math metal, and their only full length album bares more resemblance to Calculating Infinity or Art Damage than the spacious, succulent jams of Hearts Alive and This Mortal Soil. There is an exhilarating urgency and franticness amidst Lethargy's chaos, but they manage to pull this off without sounding cluttered, like many bands in the genre. Don't be put off by the 'math' label. There's guitar hooks, funky bass lines, swaggering riffs, quirky circus melodies- all played like a rabid maniac with ADHD. It's a rare gem; an album that is as extreme and unhinged as many bands could only dream of being, yet sacrificing nothing in cohesiveness or song writing. Add to this Eric Burke's furious barks and Dailor's mind-bending stick skills, and you have something very special.
Overall Impression — 10
It's Hard To Write also has impressive production. The guitar has a thick bottom end, but the treble is cutting enough so that none of the guitar lines are lost in the mix. The drums are powerful, yet punchy; the sound of the album is raw enough, but the listener is never forced to strain to hear what's going on. It is rare to find a band that uses technical theory and ability as a key to other possibilities, rather than just mustering up a 21/16 section and stopping there. 'It's Hard To Write With A Little Hand' adds something fresh, dynamic and genuinely exciting to the world of technical metal. And that's about the highest praise I can give it.