Horror tropes in music can take the form of a shocking lyric or as an intense musical motif, but it’s a whole other level of grim if a band can disturb a listener to their core while entertaining them at the same time. It’s a duality that few have captured as well as horror-metal act The Lion’s Daughter.
The Lion’s Daughter captured the stylized aesthetic of ‘70s and ‘80s horror cinema on their 2018 album, Future Cult. With songs that emit a catchy, haunting energy, the band crafted a work drenched in an eerie atmosphere. While their earlier material was based in sludge, The Lion’s Daughter’s sound has become a blend of industrial, black metal, electronic music and rock ‘n’ roll. Though genre doesn’t matter so much with this band, as they’re mostly determined to unnerve their audience. The band’s latest effort, Skin Show, continues this path of creepy compositions, this time incorporating a bit more stylization to their unsettling approach.
On Future Cult, The Lion’s Daughter beefed up the heaviness with compositions defined by vicious riffs and intricate drum work. That quality is still present on Skin Show, but there’s a subtler approach to how each song is crafted. While the approach they took on Future Cult certainly leaves an impact, on Skin Show, the band aim to establish a consistent mood throughout, pulling the listener into a world seeped in debauchery and horror.
“Becomes the Night” displays the band taking off on a heavy rock rhythm, the intensity ramping up at perfect moments to maximize the thrill. Small touches of synths ring throughout the track, teasing the album’s greater duality between metal and electronics. “Curtains” is one of the standout cuts on the record, both in how exhilarating it is and what it displays technically, showcasing a gothic, industrial aura with delightful use of atmospheric synths. Meanwhile, cuts like “Dead in Dreams” make for an infectiously spooky kind of mysticism.
There is a cinematic quality behind all this music, presenting the illusion of traveling through an unsettling Giallo-esque mansion or a grimy back alley. When you have a synth swirling above violent sounding riffs, there comes a duality of creepy and fun.
Which also touches upon the most interesting part of this record—its pop appeal. While a song like “Werewolf Hospital” leans hard into rock/metal territory, the far more interesting songs are those that use heaviness to further emphasize an air of playfulness. In the lo-fi presentation of “Sex Trap,” there comes a great feeling of discomfort, which is then intensified as the string arrangement picks up. Later, as the instrumentation expands, the composition’s aura becomes more exhilarating—the synths working with the guitar, bass, and drums to create a more hedonistic sort of energy. Whether a song sends chills down the spine or gets into a groove, it’s awesome to hear the band express both menace and exuberance alike.
The track progression throughout this record is that of a consistent spooky groove—the sort of musical experience that elicits the imagery of a dim club with flashing lights, bodies swaying as the sound of synthesizers and bass weave by them. The Lion’s Daughter took the best parts of their previous record and expanded upon them on Skin Show, presenting an extravagant work of darkness.
Label: Season of Mist
A graduate of Columbia College Chicago's Creative Writing Program, Michael Pementel is a published music journalist, specializing in metal and its numerous subgenres. Along with his work for Treble and Bloody Disgusting, he has also written for Consequence of Sound, Metal Injection, Dread Central, Electronic Gaming Monthly and the Funimation blog.