Friday, September 20, 2013
Lantern - Below (2013)
Country: Kuopio, Finland
Style: Black/Death Metal
Label: Dark Descent
In the last couple of years, I have been more willing to check out the whole "blackened death metal" genre then I previously have been. Before I had heard bands who really underwhelmed me but in the last few years I've become rather impressed with several groups and have gone out of my way to check some groups out if their covers are interesting enough. This was one of those cases.
I have to say that the first time I put this record on, I was highly disappointed. I just didn't connect with what the band was doing, which is strange because it isn't immensely unique or abstract or anything you couldn't find in another group playing death metal nowadays. The overall sound is murky, but not overly atmospheric or muddy sounding, preferring to stay somewhere between the Incantation-esque brutality-meets-atmosphere and the early Amorphis take on melody. This results in the overall tone being somewhat inconsistent, or at least I felt that way on my first listen. That's not meant as a diss to the band, but I think I was so used to an album sticking with a sound, whether it was a melodic album or a brutal album or an old-school album, whatever that means, but this took sounds that were quite different tonally and blended them. The melodies take a more open and melancholic sound while the majority of the rest of the instrumentation remains aggressive and grinding. In a sense it's was like putting a crown of gold on a pile of dirt (or that's what I would relate it to anyway) in that the main instrumentation just sounded so rough while the melodies just soared. It was odd. Take into account how rough the production sounds on here as well, the tinny drums, cranked up guitars, and the barked vocals, along with a hell of reverb, it's just weird sounding, or at least it was to me, but like I said, many bands have done this sort of sound before as well. It was just blended on here in a way that didn't mesh with me.
I guess it's easy to see why this band was tagged as "blackened death metal" since their fusion of ideas does merit that genre tagging, but unlike some of the other albums I've listened to in recent years from this genre, this does not hold the same spirit or songwriting abilities. While I have become more accustomed to what the band is doing on here after several listens, I have to say that my opinion is relatively the same. There just isn't as much here as I would have liked in terms of substance. There's aggression, grit, atmosphere - yes, but beyond that, the songwriting is lackluster, the melodies don't stick with the listener (being me obviously), and after a while the sound the band are selling just grows stale. I mean, there is a certain novelty towards listening to this album and what the band are doing, but I've heard bands do this better, and once you've heard better bands, there really isn't any reason to settle for this - even for all the effort I'm sure went into this. There just wasn't enough to hold my attention throughout the entire album. I often found my attention drifting off and then remembering that I had an album on that I was supposed to be listening to and preparing to review. Now, if that's how I feel now, imagine how I felt when I first listened to this.
I don't mean to hate on anyone liking this, as this is clearly just my opinion, but this just didn't meet the needs I required of it. There's nothing wrong with what the band is doing, and there will be plenty who dig it, but it just wasn't for me. Give it a listen if you like old-school death metal with a bit of a doom and black metal vibe as well.
Overall Score: 6
Highlights: Entrenching Presences, Below