Melodic black metal?
Lantlos' sophomore effort, .Neon, is a rather peculiar album. The band seems to be a rather interesting mix of experimental and melodic metal and a crushing and harsh mix of black metal. With screeching high black growls and actually quite nice instrumentation backing it, it's hard to decide whether the album presents a pleasant contrast or a horrid discordance. A few select passages are nice, but the overwhelming majority is a sad and near-painful amalgam of melody and dissonance - and not the good kind.
The album opens with Minusmensch, the first taste of the band's fusion of good melody and.... not so good melody. The song constantly bombards you with some interesting, if not somewhat strained, instrumentation backing some rather traditional black vocals, contrasting the melody in a very harsh, but not quite beautiful, way. The instrumental sections are the obvious plus to this song, and the whole album in general, adding a slight twinge of progginess and melodic experimentation.
These Nights Will Be Ours is another meloblack fusion track (rhyme win). The black metal vocals seem to be in better accord with the more depressing nature of the track, giving it an edge of downright experimentation, with even some heavy post-rock ambiance mixed in. The song seems to soar a little higher than Minusmensch, with a more melodic guitar backing and some great ambient guitars, some of the very little ambient guitar work I actually enjoy (I could never get into post-rock). Overall, this song presents a strong effort in the band's experimental category, fusing even more feels and influences for a highly dynamic track.
Pulse/Surreal is just that, a pulsing and almost surreal black metal ride. With some obvious influences from the likes of maudlin of the Well and Agalloch, the band institutes clean vocals, both a great relief to hurting ears and a pleasant surprise of melodic beauty. The band doesn't hesitate to modulate into a more.... screechy tone with the reinstitution of the black metal vocals, adding an unnecessary contrast to something that easily could have been fantastic and beautiful. The song does taper into a post-rock zone that is something I have come to expect from the genre - lengthy and unnecessary ambient sections that ruin any somewhat melodic sections, but overall the song is a strong effort, with a few down points.
Neige De Mars slips into territory I don't really like. The song blends the boring aspect of post-rock with the screechy aspect of black metal to make a less than stomachable mix. The music is quite harsh at times, lacking the pleasantries of melodic instrumental sections and instead substituting a sleep-inducing post-rock jam. The song has very few high points, with most of the song.
Coma breaks the monotony with a harder driving and more pure black metal track, although post-rock and some more melodic experimentation is still seen. The song presents a little less creativity in it's standard-sounding pop-punk chord progression and a little less creative instrumentation as seen in the earlier tracks of the album. The song has up points, but presents one of the less inventive and more "run-of-the-mill" depressing black metal tracks on the album.
Neon, the epic title and closer track, is instrumental and oozes the creativity in the instrumentation that the band showed in the beginning of the album. Without the black screeches, the instrumental side of the band is able to soar and excel in its position in the band: to smother you in creative post-rock/metal experimentation and melodic funzies. The band is able to mesh the post-rock they had in most of the album with the "better" and more enjoyable experimental metal.
AlBUM OVERALL: Lantlos had come back with a rather interesting album. The album has both very high points and very (very) low points. The band has an obvious fondness for post-rock, and is also obviously intent on fusing this with their black-metal roots. At points, this becomes a great experimental mastery with just a small lack of really creative melody, and at times it creates a near-horrid fusion of dissonance and ambiance. Overall, the album is really a balance between great and gross, making an overall good, but really not very necessary album. 3 stars.