20 for ’14: Lantlôs – Melting Sun I: Azure Chimes

Part 6 of a 20 part rundown of my favourite tracks of last year

When Lantlôs’ Markus Siegenhort told Niege, he of Alcest fame, that the time had come to for the band to forge ahead without him, one could be forgiven for thinking he was making a huge mistake. Through 3 increasingly excellent Alcest records Niege had shown the way for black metal bands wanting to crawl out of their caves and feel the sun on their back and one would think he could have been a key component in Lantlôs’ evolution. But after very different years it’s fair to say it was a smart move. Whilst Niege made an insipid sub-Slowdive record in Shelter, Lantlôs made something of a mini post-metal masterpiece. Heavily indebted to Devin Townsend with it’s wall-of-sound approach and perhaps with Justin Broadrick for it’s majestically slow, crushing pace that brings to mind Jesu’s Silver, they took steps away from black metal in another direction entirely. Both he and Niege seemed to want to inject some beauty and warmth into their frosty sounds but only one of them seems to have remembered that’s doable without leaving the metal behind altogether. Azure Chimes is a 7 minute long embrace of post-rock guitars and monstrous, elephantine chords. Seighort’s vocals may not be the strongest but as he intones the chorus hook of “Numb Me” over guitars that manage to be both crushing and gorgeous the effect is exactly that: it sounds numb amidst the beauty. They cover a surprising amount of genre territory over the course of the album whilst maintaining, at it’s core, an identity which is introduced perfectly on Azure Chimes. They may be numb to the beauty but they certainly can express it and can do so without loosing an iota of their heft or weight.