Behind The Scenes With Lo! On The Making Of 'The Gleaners'

6 April 2023 | 1:20 pm | Mary Varvaris
Originally Appeared In

To celebrate the release of Lo!’s devastatingly heavy unsettling new record, we caught up with vocalist Sam Dillon for a behind-the-scenes making of The Gleaners.

(Source: Supplied)

Sydney’s Lo!, a DIY, self-managed blackened sludge band, are returning tomorrow with their highly-anticipated fourth studio album, The Gleaners. Metalheads: you’re in for a real treat.

Renowned for fusing hardcore, black metal and sludge metal, The Gleaners’ nine infernal tracks journey through raw violence, sophisticated madness and open defiance to capitalism, colonialism, privilege and apathy; a hardcore search for freedom and truth that leaves nothing to the imagination. 

“We created an album of anthems without losing the groove or viciousness of performing live, using defined characters and themes that are revisited and interwoven across the record while also experimenting with atmospheric and cinematic samples to breathe life into the recording,” guitarist and primary songwriter Carl Whitebread said in a statement.

Whitebread added, “The act of gleaning was a medieval practice where a lord or nobility would allow their lowest subjects to sift through the refuse of a newly harvested field for subsistence. Replace grain with truth, and we ourselves are gleaning daily through media, relationships and our own myths to subside, hoping to harvest sense from the muck and mire.”

To celebrate the release of Lo!’s devastatingly heavy unsettling new record, we caught up with vocalist Sam Dillon for a behind-the-scenes making of The Gleaners.

From Vestigal (2017) To The Gleaners (2023)

Vestigial had opened up the arena for us to work within a concept album format and also extend on a genre like sludge metal. Sludge metal can be bogged down in formula or expectations, but we injected anthemic elements into it, large choruses, post-metal-style theatrics and a lot of audio tricks that would be used, say, in film scores or those sort of cinematic areas. 

When we were doing The Gleaners, it was about experimenting further with this to always have that groove as the underlying benchmark of sludge metal - but extended out and have it be accessible and more impacting, more aggressive, more concise, and keeping it exciting for us as a band. 

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Pareidolia - From Kids’ Instruments To The End Result

The track Pareidolia was originally meant to be an instrumental number, and Carl [Whitbread, Lo! guitarist] is actually playing children's toy pianos and the glockenspiel along with only clean guitars on that number.

Cinematic & Heavy Influences

The Gleaners is by far our most experimental release; with plenty of synths, we've got organs, vocal changes, spoken word sections and more. Carl was heavily influenced by film scores as well as eclectic heavy artists such as Daughters, Swans, and Nine Inch Nails; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have worked on a lot of film scores and HBO series. 

Concept albums from the 70s, 80s, and 90s that were dealing with xenophobia and isolation were a big drawcard for me, as well as Ministry, Napalm Death, is a band favourite of ours, and also Gallows’ album Gray Britain, which was dealing with all these issues that I've been talking about, but through the guise of modern Britain. 

And I feel that Australia deserved its own take on this. We've always had artists that have spoken up for the right things, but rarely has there been a full concept album that has its feet in what is going on.

In-House Music Videos

Carl Whitbread and our bassist Adrian Shapiro both directed film clips for The Gleaners. The clip for our single Rat King features Carl's unique animations, and Cannibal Culture was directed by Adrian that captures some disturbing imagery of capitalism’s Crown Prince. Salting The Earth was a welcome return to the director's chair for Matt Devine; he’s a friend of the band who had previously directed the infamous Orca clip off 2015’s The Tongueless.

Real Life Rats

The harrowing ending of Rat King features the tormented panic screams of actual real trapped rats, which was lifted from amateur footage, and then Carl put it through some distortion.

Choir Features

The closing track Mammons Horn enlisted the help of Hadal Maw’s Nick Rackham as well as vocalist Beth Allen. They provided the ominous choir vocals at the end of this album.


2015’s The Tongueless, 2017’s Vestigial and 2023’s The Gleaners are presented in the form of a triptych. 

All can be consumed as a combined body of work with bleeding outros into the intros of each new album, as well as resurfacing characters showing different elements of the same subject matter. In art, these panels, or triptychs, were a popular way of depicting altar paintings, and they're the preferred form for the modernist painter Francis Bacon, who often focused on the dissection of the human form or horrific nightmare-ish studies of powerful religious figures. 

I love the idea that time has passed between our album releases and that we have been able to inject experimentation and more elaborate songwriting along the way, but all the albums still can be as enjoyed as one continuous work.

The Gleaners by Lo! is out tomorrow. You can pre-order or pre-save the album here.