Album Review: Punitive Damnation – Lifelost

In the press release for “Punitive Damnation,” the second LP from the project known as Lifelost, helmed by a man simply known as Phlegeton (Wormed), there is a rather detailed description of what the musician intends for his audience. It reads as follows:

It is a journey to another world, to a dark and chaotic cosmos, 

where time, words and human hierarchies lack meaning, 

where a supernatural pain underlies as punishment. 

Ancient cursed presences observe and manipulate the bravest paladins 

locked in an abysmal limbo turned into ghostly spectres, 

perpetuating their suffering after an inglorious death, in labyrinthine spaces, 

almost dreamlike, beyond human reality, controlling their reality from portals of fire and blood. 

A holocaust directed by perverse and supernatural entities, 

quasi gods, who seek to sink human morality with a mysterious end, 

where the worst hell is to exist…” 

– Phlegeton

After reading a statement of this sort, one question persists: Does it actually sound like that? The short answer is ‘yes,’ but could just as easily be ‘no,’ depending on the length of time you spend with the record. Allow me to elaborate…

If you shut it down after hearing the first track, “Astral Construct,” you won’t get it. It is an excellent song, but only a sliver of the whole. It starts drawing the listener in, ever closer, after about four minutes, by introducing a chant, layers of percussion, and massively cavernous guitars, which all bottom out suddenly… leaving our ears misted with blood, laying on a bed of synthetic french horn drones. Perhaps a little uncomfortable, but a bed nonetheless, and comfort is a luxury. 

“Hidden Presence” sees the choral chanting return, along with the aforementioned relentlessness in the drum and guitar departments, allows us a second to breathe, and then “Skulldrinker” pushes us into a vortex groove and doom. “Miserwolf” somehow pulls off sounding like how ice feels. 

Liquid. Frozen in time. Unable to reach anything but itself, until it begins to crack under the pressure of the world. 

Dissonance. Leading us fittingly into the “Winter Eye,” and holy shit, this song will fuck you up! This is where Phlegeton’s statement starts making sense. You could put the last couple minutes of the song on a loop and get lost. It is ridiculously hypnotizing, after first being both graceful and pulverizing. It reminds me a great deal of the song “Foregone” by Altarage, or something off of “Vexovoid” by Portal. But in this particular case, comparison is slightly unnecessary. 

“Lymbo” and “Time Terror” prove all of these things, and on multiple occasions, ending the album as advertised. It is, indeed, “a journey to another world…a dark and chaotic cosmos,” where labels mean nothing, and “understanding” is relative to a person’s ability to think outside of the boxes society seems intent on shoving everything into. 

“Punitive Damnation” is an astonishingly powerful record. Atmospheric is an understatement, as are a myriad of other words one typically reserves for work that is genuinely difficult to describe. At what point, then, are we simply wasting our time attempting to explain unexplainable things? Well, how long have humans been doing this? Forever, really. And so we shall continue. Lifelost has just added to the heap of excellence that must be experienced. I suggest you all do so post haste. 

Rating: 4.5/5  

“Punitive Damnation” will be released on December 10th, by Onism Productions.

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