Lantlôs – Agape (Prophecy Productions/Lupus Lounge)

Sunday, 24th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Responsible for one of 2010’s best black metal albums (.neon) andsongs (“Coma”), Lantlôs has hit the ground running with Agape, a body of work that practically shuns every black metal convention in the book. German mainmain/composer Herbst is once again flanked by Alcest’s Neige on vocals, who ironically is the most black metal thing about Agape, which is quite funnyconsidering the knocks Alcest get for their semi-involvement with black metal. Yet that’s neither here nor there, as Agape proves to be an entity all to itself.

Eschewing the caustic and frothy vibe of its predecessor, Lantlôs manages to tie in loose, almost lounge music elements into its sound. And while there’s never been a dearth of reserved and elongated jam moments in BM, the loosy-goose, smoke-filled room aura heard on several cuts of Agape is a welcome surprise, one that works remarkably well on “Bliss” and “You Feel Like Memories.” Are we entering into the era of lounge black metal? Could be.

While there’s no jaw-dropping songs like “Coma,” Agape does manage to seek its teeth into the emerging underbelly of post-black metal on “Bloody Lips and Paper Skin,” a song that revels in Herbst’s odd riff diagrams and sequences. As for Neige, he’s almost an afterthought, taking a back seat to the musicalportions, preferring to enter when needed. However, his vocals on “Eribo – I Collect the Stars” reflect how well the Frenchman utilizes the scratchy regions of his voice.

The fact that black metal has once again, capsized itself with over-familiarity is not lost on us when listening to Agape. It’s a breath of fresh air, an album that while inferior to its predecessor, bucks several trends and expectancies, thus ensuring that Lantlôs remains at the forefront of forward-thinking black metal, whatever that is nowadays…

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