Lantlôs – Agape

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Review by Jason Guest

Another band to have suffered being labelled with the ‘post black metal’ tag, Lantlôs’s style, is distinct and unique in terms of both mood and sound. Genre-tagging does little more than hinder the listening experience, and Lantlôs refuse to be so easily pigeon-holed by embracing the label, scrutinising it, deconstructing it and then putting it back together how they see fit. Their eponymous debut was a black metal masterpiece with a number of elements that marked Lantlôs out as a band that had something special yet to truly unearth. Their sophomore album, .neon, marked a clear progression in style and compositional skill, and the album where that mysterious element manifest itself in the fruitful blending of genres and styles. And so Agape takes the band ever further into that unexplored territory.

‘Intrauterine’ that opens the album is a long, slow protracted piece that’s heavily atmospheric, both dense and mellow, and doom-like in its sluggish progression with Neige’s vocals switching between raw and hoarse to clean and melodic, hacking into the shadows or floating across the dream-like air. ‘Bliss’ opens into a black metal gallop thundering along for about ninety seconds when the track slows to an extended doom passage that gradually builds before collapsing into chaos. A piano emerges from the rubble and the track transforms into lazy jazz before crumbling once again into the shadows. ‘Bloody Lips And Paper Skin’ opens with guitar chords strummed lightly, slowly turning into distortion as the track turns into a darkly optimistic and moving piece, interweaving the layered and dense guitars with a melodic bass line and Neige’s tortured vocals. ‘You Feel Like Memories’ stands apart from the rest of the tracks as it’s a bluesy, jazzy guitar-based instrumental with echoes of Pink Floyd’s and Eno’s ambient works. With ‘Eribo – I Collect The Stars’ returns the doom and post-black elements for another foray into broad vistas and emotive depths.

Agape is a journey, a voyage through a series of landscapes that are returned to and interlaced throughout the work. The tracks work well independently but taken together, they are so much bigger. There’s a melancholic beauty throughout Agape that’s as powerfully conveyed in its mellow moments as it is in the most savage passages of torment and horror. It’s bleak, barren and dark yet there is somehow a celebratory optimism pervading the pummeling guitars and the fragile melodies. Lantlôs’s sound is elegant, graceful, haunting and powerful, overwhelming even. Agape is a great piece of work.

9 out of 10

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Track Listing:

  1. Intrauterine
  2. Bliss
  3. Bloody Lips And Paper Skin
  4. You Feel Like Memories
  5. Eribo – I Collect The Stars