♥ ♥ ♥
Lantlôs were one of the many bands that French musician Neige brought to the forefront in the original blackgaze movement, but were honestly the only one I could never really get into. I guess I didn’t really give them an awful lot of time, but of the one album I heard (2010’s .neon), I wasn’t entirely enthralled by the heavy reliance on harsh vocals and black metal riffing, but I understand if Neige wanted an output to throw his most kvlt and frostbitten music. But now, come 2014, Neige has left the band to continue full-time with Alcest, giving Markus Siegenhort (aka Herbst) full control over the band and its direction. And honestly, the way he’s taking it is a tad ironic.
Melting Sun, as essentially a shoegaze/post-rock record with metal undertones, points rather directly at Shelter, the latest record from Alcest, both in its production, use of fully clean vocals, absence of blast beats, and gloriously sunny cover. Although Alcest managed to avoid this by only have sun in their cover, Lantlos have buried themselves straight into the new blackgaze subgenre of Pinkgaze ♥ ♥ ♥ (yes the hearts are part of the name), following the likes of Deafheaven and An Autumn for Crippled Children down into a blissful sea of pink and gaze.
But as much as this record does seem to be following a trend, I do like it, although not quite as much as the latest Alcest album. Markus makes his point of difference particularly in his vocal delivery, as well as some rather post-metal like heavy sections, with nearly no black metal to be found. The one thing that this album does that a lot of these nu-gaze albums are missing is clear vocals. I’ll admit I’m a fan of a shitton of reverb in my music, and I do love the Alcest records where you honestly can’t hear a single part of the vocals, but it’s just become a cliché. To hear the singing hear float so nicely over the instrumentation, clear in tone and in lyric, is a real breath of fresh air, for the same reasons I praised Neal Halstead’s inclusion in the latest Alcest record. And it brings the vocal melodies so far forward, too – and there are some stunning ones here. The ending of “Cherry Quartz” brings some wonderful vocals in after a long (and oftentimes tedious) post-rock build for the first half. And the melody is absolutely beautiful, in every way, rivaling some of Alcest’s best melodies at their peak. It lifts the song up so much, and nearly forgives that meandering intro with its beauty. But honestly, if I have a nitpick, it’s that I don’t really like the thick and almost djenty bass tone that comes through this part – it should be smoother, dreamier.
And that’s the other thing – the heavy tones on this record. During some of the more metal sections of this album, evident during “Azure Chimes” as well as the first half of the aforementioned “Cherry Quarts”, the tones are huge and meaty, reminding me the most of Russian Circles, and even pushing ever so slightly into djenty sounds – although the guitars are certainly never used in a djent-like fashion. And while it’s a nice change to the blurred and frantic blast beats and tremolo riffs that many blackgaze bands utilise, I can’t say it’s honestly all too good, or all too fitting with this kind of music.
My other big issue with this album is how sometimes it feels like it simply isn’t trying. I’ll admit that I love the melodies and the chord progressions to bits, but sometimes there just is such a lack of energy in it, particularly in the wanky first half of “Cherry Quartz”, as well as the last couple of tracks. They’re all pleasant listening, as music of this style generally tends to be, but I can’t really enjoy them more than that – as ambient background noise. There are obviously other nitpicks that I have – “Aquamarine Towers” fading out is a completely stupid decision, the china cymbal in “Azure Chimes” is massively distracting, and all the songs have pretty much the same intro with the same building ambience.
On the whole, the melodies and brilliant emotions on this record definitely outweigh the annoying aesthetic decisions with the way they are arranged, and it’s definitely a solid album worth your time. If you’re sick of shoegaze having indiscernible vocals, then this is a must-hear, or maybe if you’re a fan of Russian Circles-style post-metal, but I know that the melody that closes “Cherry Quartz”, as well as the main one in “Jade Fields” are amongst the best melodies I’ve heard this year.
Originally written for my facebook page/blog: facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog