Written by: MST on 08/03/2012 21:48:39

There are so many great names in atmospheric black metal these days that it can be hard for a band to stand out on their own and get the attention they may or may not deserve. Luckily for this band though, a certain Mr. Stéphane Paut, also known as Neige, has taken the time off from his main band Alcest to do the vocals for "Agape", the third album by German black metal band Lantlôs, like he did on the previous album ".neon". Thus, Lantlôs has received plenty of attention, and the critically acclaimed ".neon" from 2010 is a great album according to the undersigned. But other than Neige, the band consists of drummer Felix Wylezik and Markus "Herbst" Siegenhort who takes care of guitars, bass and keyboards. The name Lantlôs supposedly originated from Herbst's feeling that he didn't belong to a certain country (Landlos = without a country).

The sound hasn't changed radically on "Agape", but it is a considerably slower album than the predecessor. Where ".neon" focused most of the album on searing riffs accompanied by pummelling double pedals and blast beats, this album focuses more on the somber, jazzy feel that was also to be found on ".neon" but in lesser dosages. It is a very varied effort, as examplified by the intro track "Intrauterin" which, after a short ambient intro, breaks the album open with some crushing blackened doom metal that slowly drags itself into the first half of the song only to be replaced by some calming, subdued, mellow guitar play that changes the mood completely. Neige's soft clean vocals accompany the guitars until the song finally breaks out into mid-tempo black metal territory.

As the album progresses, parts of black metal replace somber, jazzy sections of guitar play that once replaced another black metal section. Enter "You Feel Like Memories", an entire song of mellow jazzy guitar and soothing steel brush drumming. It is one of the most relaxing songs I have ever heard, and believe it or not, it fits perfectly into this black metal album as it prepares the listener for what is to come, namely "Eribo - I Collect The Stars": an eight and a half minute epic that continues in the vein of the rest of the album with slow, beautiful guitars accompanied by slow drum work being replaced by mellow passages, but the vocals do not kick in until about five and a half minutes into the song when the black metal really kicks in and Neige delivers one of his most intense vocal performances I have heard as of yet. An absolutely perfect ending to an album such as this one. Neige is without a doubt one of the best vocalists in the atmospheric black metal scene today; the amount of emotion he can squeeze into a simple shriek is hard for me to fathom, but a joy to listen to, and accompanied by Herbst's enchanting guitar work, they add to what turned out to be a great album, despite the difference in sound compared to the predecessor. It doesn't quite reach the brilliance that the latest Alcest album delivered, mainly because of the song "Bliss" that feels a little average, but "Agape" further solidifies Lantlôs's position as one of the most interesting atmospheric black metal bands around.

Download: Intrauterin, Bloody Lips And Paper Skin, You Feel Like Memories, Eribo - I Collect The Star
For The Fans Of: Alcest, Les Discrets, Deafheaven
Listen: Youtube

Release date 28.10.2011
Prophecy Productions

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