Radar Replay: ‘Low Roar’: the brilliance of Iceland’s folk rock self-titled album

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In early 2002, Ryan Karazija would start the formation of indie rock group, Audrye Sessions, performing around coffeehouses in Livermore, Calif. For the next eight years, the band would continue to refine their sound by releasing multiple EPs in the rock and pop genre. During the mid 2000’s the band rose to prominence; the group was featured in multiple video games and TV shows. Yet, the band soon relocated in late 2010 to Reykjavik, Iceland and renamed themselves to Low Roar. Their breakout album of the same name was released on Nov. 1, 2011 and would shape their sound for years to come. 

This new album came to audiences within a new genre and special type of mixing that creates enveloping soundscapes for listeners to get lost in. While each track utilizes this in some form, the specific sounds can either be high pitched synthesizer noise or a low rumble drum beat. Either way, these backdrops to the production are instrumental in complementing Karazija’s voice. Each track gives a new unique ambient feel that tells a story to the listener. The soulful lyrics by vocalist Karazija brings a close intimate experience as he recounts a myriad of tales that showcase raw emotion and beautiful imagery. Some of the group’s best songs appear on the album with many fan favorites such as “Give Up” and “Just a Habit” that offer a deep perspective into Karazija’s psyche. Some songs, like “Puzzle,” pay homage to the bands roots with its interesting dreamlike pop.

Each track’s production is filled with an air of distress and pain that is carried throughout the album itself. The lyrics reflect this mood as the wistful words melt into the backdrop of the sounds and instrumentals. Since their sound is unapologetically depressing, many tracks will leave listeners with a tinge of hopefulness. It’s from this sombre catharsis that listeners will be calmed and soothed by the elegance displayed in their sound. This is especially true for this initial album as the sole producer is none other than Karazija himself. With a limited budget, he faced multiple financial hardships in order to continue supporting his family with his music. This gives the album a hint of authenticity as each track symbolizes his plight from moving halfway across the world to continue his labor of love. 

The band has recently risen to prominence again thanks to their inclusion in the video game, “Death Stranding.” Produced by legendary game designer, Hideo Kojima, the folk rock group’s strong sound complimented the game’s more somber and downtrodden feel. Low Roar’s iconic and distinctive music is something not many bands are able to find. They have a special type of voice that gives them a very interesting authenticity to the instrumentals, lyrics and production. 

While their self-titled album was just the first of many, it truly paved the way for many more. Each subsequent release builds on the very essence of the band’s sound that’s portrayed so well in this album. Replay “Low Roar,” it’s melancholic vibes will soothe and relax listeners as Karazija’s lyrics will leave audiences relating in some way.

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