Lantern – II: Morphosis Review

Band: Lantern
Album: II: Morphosis
Label: Dark Descent Records
Genre: Death Metal
Country: Finland
Release Date: March 17th, 2017

The Finnish Death Metal duo named Lantern have now become a five-piece band that has expanded upon their first release and simultaneously keep their feet in the roots of their DM sound. “Morphosis” is indeed an excellent name for their new release, as they have changed and grown, adding depth and melody to an otherwise straightforward attack.

“Black Miasma” opens the album and if ever there was a track name that accurately reflected the song it was named after, this is it. There is a ferocious leap out of the gates with a blackened guitar swirl, a drop down to a small bass line, and then the assault begins, mid-paced, almost plodding. This song is as thick as quicksand and when the vocals by Necrophilos burrs in, you know the journey proper has begun. Solid Death with plenty of slog. No one would dare call this production thin or this song empty.

Second track “Sleeper of Hypnagog” has a melodic opening that slides into a pounding assault. Lantern are not shy about showing their traditional DM roots while at the same time opening the songs up a bit, allowing some melody in here and there. 3:25 in and we get a nice, creepy melodic moment that adds some atmosphere to the song, and this glides into a fine, smooth solo that actually goes somewhere and doesn’t sting like a bumblebee, a thousand notes leading nowhere. The song slows down further before ramping back up again for its galloping conclusion, where we get another solo, this one more traditionally Death Metal.

Deliberate guitars bend your spine, pulling you into the chaos that becomes “Hosting Yellow Fungi.” Like the other songs here, this isn’t particularly fast, with blazing speed and ferocity, but it will beat you over the head with some heavy blows that will leave you reeling, dazed and happy at the same time. If you like head-bobbing Death, this song belongs to you. It’s a short track and almost serves as an intro to “Cleansing of the Air,” which rumbles in with a martial stomp, an army sent off to war, before skating into a metallic speed assault about 1:30 into the song. We get more chaos after this, Lantern showing us that although the sound is clean, the music is still murky and fraught with darkness and danger. Nice solo, too.

“Necrotic Ephiphanies” is the first track to truly showcase some of the Thrash Metal touches the album has been peppered with so far. An instrumental piece, the intro grows in speed and power until it suddenly drops off, replaced by a moment of atmosphere, and then the Slayer guitar parts show up, acting all South of Heaven one minute into the song. This turns to flash and stomp and the roar returns at the 1:30 mark. This song is all dynamics and power and perhaps the greatest showcase of just how much Lantern has grown as a band since their last record.

Another nexus of Death and Thrash, “Transmigration” propels the second half of the album forward, reminding the listener that there’s still plenty of heft in this band. It is peppered with some nice solo work. 2:30 into the song, they take a step back, slowing things, letting some space in, and next we get some sweet melodic guitar work, building back up to a rumbling finish. Really great subtleties at work here, giving the album itself more depth.

Bass guitar rolls us into “Virgin Damnation,” starting things off slow and earthy, the guitars adding layers of thick syrup, the vocals blanketing the heaviness with conviction. This song is pretty doomy, plodding along, dark and dense. It’s an excellent opportunity to catch your breath, one that does not slow the album down in the least, but adds more layers and shades of blackness.

“Morphosis” is the next track, and it’s slight, a second instrumental, this one adding another layer of atmosphere, bleeding from “Virgin Damnation” into the final song, “Lucid Endlessness,” a true epic. This one pummels from the beginning, featuring more swirl, more thump, more gallop than anything that has come before. Yes, it pulls back here and there to add some groove, but then it picks right back up again. There’s plenty of Thrash influence here, especially on the drumming and the guitar solos, but there’s also a nice layering of Death, just to assure you that these men aren’t interested in being clones of anyone else. Four minutes in and you get a pure Thrash moment, and if your head doesn’t bob in appreciation, you just don’t like Metal. This final song carries heft of an almost mythic size and swagger. This is a band supremely confident in itself and it shows.

II: Morphosis is a nice blend of Death Metal and Thrash, with some excellent melodic flourishes thrown in, along with plenty of dark ambience, all of which serve to conjure up a fantastic record. There’s some Chaos A.D. Sepultura in here, along with a generous amount of late 90’s Gorefest, minus the keyboards and with added Death heft, all peppered and sprinkled with lots of Lovecraftian dread. This is an album and a band that plays to its strengths, in which repeated listens generate more appreciation of the depth and dynamics to the songs. Recommended for those who like to stretch their legs just outside of traditional Death Metal boundaries.

Rating: 8/10

1. Black Miasma
2. Sleeper of Hypnagog
3. Hosting Yellow Fungi
4. Cleansing of the Air
5. Necrotic Epiphanies
6. Transmigration
7. Virgin Damnation
8. Morphosis
9. Lucid Endlessness

Total Playing Time: 39:12

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