LO-PAN ‘Subtle’ Album Review; US & EU Tour/Fest Dates

Photo: Keith Marlowe
Article: Leanne Ridgeway

With certain bands, I do this thing where I’ll hear they have a new album coming and pre-order it without hearing a note. Occasionally, this uncontrollable impulse tactic doesn’t work out to the best result.

Ohio’s LO-PAN and their May 17th release of the album ‘Subtle‘ from Aqualamb Records most definitely did not disappoint my ears or wallet. Not that I expected them to, but one truly never knows until you first hear it. In my avoidance of all temptation to listen in advance to song or video premieres before receiving it in full, it brought the benefit of a first-listen absorption level reminiscent of a former junkie relapsing into the purest high in years – but you don’t get to die.

It was my intention (in tensions?) to write a review after I saw them live (again) this Friday on their tour with Corrosion Of Conformity and Crowbar, but I decided today that I didn’t want to wait and the tour dates need to be shared before the tour starts tomorrow. All dates are below, but if you’ve yet to listen to ‘Subtle‘ then click the audio stream below. It’ll be worth it.

With the opener “Ten Days” you’re given a smack in the face to awaken you for what’s about to happen. It leads you into track two, “Savage Heart” and I’m pretty sure I started giggling as sensory perception went haywire and everything began to cross-fire from my hearing into physical chills and alternating visual colors. It’s not merely the churning swirls of heavy and light in their music, nor simply the vocal performance, it’s the entire experience of ‘Subtle‘.



The album is amazingly complex in its simplicity. Recognizable style and sounds within each of their songs, yet each song is unlike another. If I were a religious person, I might guess Jeff Martin‘s larynx and vocal cords were installed by a Seraphim choir, but gods are not for me, so I’ll say his throat anatomy is well-placed and more than properly tended. The drums of Jesse Bartz are powerful, but not overwhelming to any part of the album. Chris Thompson‘s guitar is right there to wreck you where you didn’t even realize you wanted it to. Skot Thompson‘s bass enhances everyone else to bring a most necessary thickness that glues it all together.

Each gent in this band brings a different box of skill and beauty to the party, and what a goddamned party it makes. Brightly soaring, darkly menacing, hidden shocks and speed shifts, subconscious head-nodding on a ride that twists and turns in each nuance of listening discovery, ‘Subtle‘ is more an adult amusement park of emotional shifts than a party. However, this park has a strong, rhythmic gate surrounding it and you’re always made aware of just who owns this place. It ain’t you, make no mistake there. LO-PAN owns this joint and controls every inch of it.

Back to Jeff Martin for a minute. Yes, the man can sing. Anyone who’s listened to LO-PAN knows this, his voice is its own monster of wonderment, but don’t be an idiot and only focus on that. Those pipes may be golden, but it’s his delivery of the words he writes that carries his voice on it. It took just one song for me. One sentence, really, that’s been a magnet for my ears the past few months. Track four, the song “Sage.” One brutal lyrical sentence of audibly vehement poetry demonstrated all the subtlety in ‘Subtle‘ for me.

“I am sufficiently enraged.”

Find ‘Subtle‘ at Aqualamb Records [link] and go see this band on tour. They’re playing with a literal wishlist of other fantastic bands. After witnessing several performances (including The Maryland Doom Fest last month), I’ve yet to be denied in getting chills from their live set. All confirmed dates are below, along with a recent video for “Ascension Day“.

Lo-Pan is:
Jeff Martin – Vocals
Jesse Bartz – Drums
Skot Thompson – Bass
Chris Thompson – Guitar


Cover art: Eric Palmerlee
Subtle‘ – Tracklist:
01. 10 Days
02. Savage Heart
03. Ascension Day
04. Sage
05. Everything Burns
06. Old News/New Fire
07. Bring Me A War
08. A Thousand Miles
09. Khan!
10. Butcher’s Bill
11. Law & Swarm

Lo-Pan on:

Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp | Spotify


w/ Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, Quaker City Night Hawks

[^^ Lo-Pan/Crowbar only]

Jul. 25: Debonair Music Hall – Teaneck, NJ ^^
Jul. 26: The Chance Theater – Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul. 27: Westcott Theater – Syracuse, NY
Jul. 29: Dallas Nightclub – Kitchener, ON, Canada
Jul. 31: Mercury Ballroom – Louisville, KY
Aug. 01: The Intersection – Grand Rapids, MI
Aug. 02: The Rave / Eagles Club – Milwaukee, WI
Aug. 03: Gabe’s Oasis – Iowa City, IA ^^
Aug. 04: The Loft – Lansing, MI ^^
Aug. 05: Deluxe-Old National Centre – Indianapolis, IN
Aug. 06: Pop’s – Sauget, IL
Aug. 07: Slowdown – Omaha, NE
Aug. 09: The Bottleneck – Lawrence, KS ^^
Aug. 10: The Fox Theatre – Boulder, CO
Aug. 11: Mesa Theater – Grand Junction, CO
Aug. 13: Knitting Factory – Boise, ID
Aug. 14: The Complex – Salt Lake City, UT
Aug. 16: Encore Club XS – Tucson, AZ
Aug. 17: Sunshine Theater – Albuquerque, NM
Aug. 18: Rockhouse Bar & Grill – El Paso, TX ^^
Aug. 19: Come And Take It Live – Austin, TX
Aug. 20: The Merry Widow – Mobile, AL ^^
Aug. 21: 1904 Music Hall – Jacksonville, FL
Aug. 22: The Tarheel – Jacksonville, NC
Aug. 23: Elevation 27 – Virginia Beach, VA
Aug. 24: Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
Aug. 25: Fete Music Hall – Providence, RI

– Lo-Pan European Dates 2019 –

w/ Steak, Elephant Tree

[^^ Lo-Pan only]

Sep. 30: The Garage – London, U.K. (w/ Fireball Ministry)
Oct. 01: The Old England – Bristol, U.K. ^^
Oct. 02: The Bunkhouse – Swansea, U.K. ^^
Oct. 04: Gibus Live – Paris, France
Oct. 05: Up In Smoke Festival – Pratteln, Switzerland
Oct. 06: Rockhouse Bar – Salzburg, Austria
Oct. 08: Stadtwerkstatt – Linz, Austria
Oct. 09: Slow CLub – Freiburg, Germany
Oct. 10: Werk2 – Leipzig, Germany
Oct. 11: Setalight Festival – Zukunft am Ostkreuz – Friedrichshain, Germany
Oct. 12: Keep It Low Festival – Munich, Germany
Oct. 13: Zauberberg Passau – Passau, Germany
Oct. 14: Schlachthof – Wiesbaden, Germany
Oct. 15: Helios 37 – Cologne, Germany
Oct. 16: Hafenklang – Hamburg, Germany
Oct. 17: Zollkantine – Bremen, Germany
Oct. 18: Into The Void Festival – Leeuwarden, Netherlands ^^
Oct. 18-20: Desertfest Belgium – Antwerp, Belgium



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