It has been a long time since the last blog post. The initial idea of this blog was to reserve posts for only the absolute best albums I come across, particularly albums that may not be as well known, both old and new.
The time has finally come to make a new post, after hearing what I can only describe as a groundbreaking death metal record from Finland's Lantern, entitled Below. Not since Negative Plane's Et in Saecula Saeculorum, have I heard an album with a near perfect mix of an old school vibe, along with an updated twist that coincides to create something so gloriously sinister and unique.
The music is mainly death metal, combined with lesser elements of doom and black metal. The overall tone is chaotic and bludgeoning. Riffs are composed with an enormous attention to the rhythm and pacing, which work brilliantly over the chaotic and relentless drumming. In addition to the awesome death metal riffs are slowed paced doom-metal parts under very memorable melodic guitar leads. Combined with the aforementioned variables are numerous blast beats with a small black metal vibe. The result is somewhere between Necrophobic and Morbid Angel, yet somehow more sinister, organic and cryptic.
"A question unto thee: what suffering made your linger?"
You show me Italy in late sixties, winter's time
Catholic belief still struck so deep in your fingers
The priests flogged and conveyed against their thighs, moaning...
The vocals are also a high point on the album. While the vocals alone are more or less what we've all come to expect from death metal, the rhythmic delivery and lyrics definitely set this performance apart form contemporaries, putting the already brilliant song structures into another stratosphere of absolute madness.
Below's production is also to be noted. The drums sound kind of muffled, but with a decent amount of reverb. While the guitars sound a bit rawer and similar to black metal tone. The guitar leads are mid-heavy, creating an adequate and very familiar sound above the somewhat muddy production.
Unholy deed performed in secrecy
Lay haunting the eve like the reminiscence of the late
and when the clouds meander and take forms like unseen
something stirs in the ether, a presence...
While I can certainly see why some may not enjoy the production of the album, I find it be incredibly well suited for the material. With a more organic production and less polished sound, the album sounds more like an underground release, forgoing the somewhat sterile sound of most modern death metal for a more natural and earthly atmosphere.
I cannot recommend this album enough to anyone who enjoys death metal in the least. While death metal itself may not be my favorite metal genre, this release is already my frontrunner for best of 2013. Chaotic, evil, melodic, and memorable. If Lantern's next release is anywhere on the same level as Below, this band is a legend in the making. As always be sure to buy this album and continue to support amazing bands like Lantern.