Loathe’s The Things They Believe: Brit-metal hopefuls tear up the rulebook

Electronic soundscapes, ambient atmospheres, euphoric highs – Loathe’s surprise-released new album The Things They Believe is dazzlingly ambitious

Loathe: The Things They Believe album cover
(Image: © Sharp Tone Records)

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In a world where boorish online commentators endlessly proclaim what is and what isn’t metal, and far too many bands desperately cling to the genres tropes as a safety blanket, thank goodness for bands like Loathe.

The youthful Liverpool quintet may be a metal band, but The Things They Believe isn’t a metal album in any way whatsoever. That’s not gatekeeping on our part – the surprise-released follow-up to 2020’s I Let It In And It Took Everything bears absolutely none of the hallmarks of the genre.

The razor-sharp riffs, hulking grooves and vocals of any kind are gone, replaced with a more intangible sound that leans on the ambient soundscapes conjured by visionary electronic duo Boards of Canada, Olafur Arnald’s neo-classical multi-instrumentalism, the atmospheric soundtrack work of Vangelis or Trent Reznor, and even the delicate, silent spaces of Talk Talk’s art-rock masterpiece Spirit of Eden.

It’s a mood designed to slowly and subliminally occupy the consciousness, rather than a traditional set of songs. Picking out individual moments seems pointless, though whenever a discordant saxophone, courtesy of The 1975’s John Waugh, emerges through the woozy atmospherics the record is lifted to euphoric new heights. And takes multiple listens before its full depth is revealed, but those with enough patience will be rewarded.

Does this mean Loathe are still a metal band If they continue to flex their creative muscles in so many directions? Frankly, who cares. Their lack of conformity and vast ambition should be applauded.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.