Embracing your genre is something that very few bands seem to do these days. Now it’s always “Oh, we’re just a metal band”, “Oh, we’re just a heavy band”, and “Oh, we don’t want to ‘pigeon-hole’ ourselves”. Granted, there are some band that make classification impossible but they are few and far between: in most cases, they can be easily and rightfully be described with the usage of one or two words (hardcore, post-whatever, indie, ect.). Enter German band Lantlos. Credit should be given to this two person band that they have done exactly just that with their music: embrace their stereotype. Not shying away at all from the their ‘post-black metal’ tag, Lantlos have been both the bane and the savior of the modern black metal scene with their unabashedly open arm policy of furthering a fairly controversial genre. Their self-titled debut album carried a very heavy edge to it, featuring a different vocalist that was a bit more traditional, yet their sophomore album, .neon, was a immaculately written album of ambiance, Alcest-ridden riffs, and post-rock mentalities. Creating a wave of hype since then, Lantlos prepare their fan base for their next full length album; declaring it will ‘make post-black metal completely irrelevant’. Strong words, gentlemen… strong words.
It goes without showing that with an album titled Agape, you can bet your ass that it will sound extremely user friendly. Taken from the Greek word for essentially ‘divine love’, it’s without a doubt one of the more positive titled albums to have come out from this genre. And like its flowery name would suggest, Agape is chalk-full of inoffensive riffs that sacrifices much of its primal black metal elements in favor for the relaxing chords that Lantlos have been known for crafting, but only further amplifying this aspect on this record. For those hoping for a more throwback sound of Lantlos’ debut, unfortunately, this will not be the case. Knowing full well that .neon has been defining Lantlos’ overall character as a band, they continue upon the same road that they started with on that album. With more emphasis on the ‘post-’ than the ‘black metal’, Agape could very well serve as a spiritual successor towards .neon.
But before you close your browser and search for this album, the unfortunate fact remains: while stylistically similar to their previous album, Agape is ultimately not worth the time invested into it. It’s unfortunate really, because the album shows clear hints towards something amazing. Opening track ‘Intrauterin’ opens with an extremely heavy, doom inspired riff that burns at a methodically slow pace, coupled by very heartfelt wails. Sure, something that’s been done countless times before by multiple bands, but Lantlos, not inherently being an incompetent band, make the sound seem easy and off hand for them. Lantlos clearly have the chops and the skill to craft epic pieces; as the first half of the over eight minute closing track ‘Eribo- I Collect The Stars’ shows, with an ultra heavy post-metal track akin to Isis or Pelican. There are definite shining points scattered throughout the album.
But that’s just it… the bits of Agape that shine are scattered and fragmented all throughout the album, with not nearly enough substance. Nearly each track on Lantlos’ third album is stretched out with the purpose of giving the track air to breath, but winds up becoming and extremely testing listen that borderlines on becoming boring after awhile. Track “You Feel Like Memories” tries to go for the Explosions In The Sky post-rock feel, with an soft sounding riff played for the entire listen, but fails to pick up any momentum and serves to only waste four and a half minutes of the listeners time. It’s only further compounded by Agape‘s relatively short time length that it burns through. At a little over thirty minutes in length, the album creates no lasting memories with the listener for the entire period it plays. You might even find yourself halfway deep into the second listen, searching for something to hook you in, before realizing that the album ended long ago.
Listen, there’s no doubting Lantlos is a extremely talented band. It’s even more admirable that they embrace their stereotypes, even if those stereotypes are looked at with disdain by some. The band has showed that they are capable of crafting excellent releases in the past. However, Agape is simply way to heavily redundant and excessive in its experimentation for it to be considered a success. Too much filler with not nearly enough killer, the album, while possessing some interesting ideas, will most likely be passed up in favor of previous bands of the year that have been done this style better (Deafheaven, Ash Borer, etc.). Attempting to harness the soul of bands like Alcest, Agalloch, and Weakling might seem like a good idea on paper, but Lantlos have essentially pushed the boundaries too far with Agape. An admirable effort, but ultimately a bust.