July 10, 2020


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Finland’s Lantern has stood out in the past thanks to their use of melody alongside the usual crushing black and death metal base and an emphasis on riffs rather than just creating atmosphere.  Over the years the group has gone from murkier tones to cleaner tones that still retains the same darkness and dread, and this has been amplified on their third full length Dimensions.  Injecting a healthy dose of swirling melodies and thrash infused riffing alongside the destructive base heard in years past, this is a more direct take on the formula Lantern has utilized in the past, yet it manages to stand out more than ever before.

One of the first things you’ll notice as you hit the play button is that there’s a considerable amount of clarity to the recording, but Dimensions still sounds immense.  Compared to some of the murkiness or bottom heaviness of some of their past discography, this time around Lantern has added some space between each of the instruments and it has allowed each one to reach peak levels.  “Strange Nebula” is a perfect example of the type of leaner, direct songwriting the band has begun to utilize at this stage in their career, opting for faster tempos and a healthy dose of death/thrash influence that gives way to some slower breaks where older Finnish death metal elements seep in. But no matter what speed the band is going at, the clarity to the production lets the drums sound monstrous and keeps your focus on the guitar work as it twists and turns at a breakneck pace while the melodies spread outwards over top of it.  Lantern hasn’t completely lost their taste for slower tempos, as the almost fifteen minute closer “Monolithic Abyssal Dimensions” provides ample time for atmospheric interludes that channel that same type of Lovecraftian mystery and sense of drawing you into the unknown, but as a whole Dimensions comes through much faster.  It’s an approach that works in their favor, as one riff after the next draws your attention and the merging of earlier death/thrash with some of the melodic elements of early black metal suck you right in and result in quite a few passages that will get stuck in your head for some time to come.  If you’ve been following these guys since their earlier days you may have been able to predict this songwriting direction, but everything is taken to the next level here and the album remains interesting from beginning to end. 

Necrophilos has had a distinctive vocal style from the very beginning of the band’s career, and while it’s proved to be an acquired taste for some listeners, I find that it matches the amount of power the rest of Lantern is able to create.  His screams/growls are very low pitched but they’re delivered in a way where you can easily make out all of the lyrics, something that still remains a rare occurrence in a lot of death metal.  At times it reminds me of Vader and Gorefest, as the vocals are easy to distinguish but they reverberate over the material in a way that makes it sound like something not quite of this world.  On “Portraits” Necrophilos adopt a slightly softer tone, but it’s just as ominous and leads well into the harsher vocals that follow.  It’s another strong performance and while death and black metal fans can be notoriously picky about vocal ranges, what’s delivered here continues to mesh perfectly with Lantern’s overall sound.

This group has piqued my interest in the past, but this is the first time that I’ve felt truly blown away by everything they have to offer.  They channel the ferocity and adventurous feel of earlier death metal and thrash, but layer dark and haunting melodies over top of it that channel the same type of dread and despair that many of the cavernous black and death metal bands of years past have offered.  Unlike some of those groups though, Lantern isn’t just making a wall of noise or murky atmosphere and then calling it a day, as the riffs get stuck in your head and there’s a lot of substance here.  Every time I think I’ve found my standout releases in these genres for 2020 another album comes along to throw a wrench in my plans, and this is another one that is likely to be near the top of the pack as we approach December.  Dimensions is available from Dark Descent Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg

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