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Viking's Choice: Lantlôs Will Crush You With Bliss

Courtesy of the artist

What do you do when your favorite metal band "goes soft"? Take to the message boards? Subtweet until the mounting "favorites" validate your rage? Or do you open up to the sound? In the new issue of the monthly metal print magazine (No. 166 — the one with the late Oderus Urungus on the cover), Kevin Stewart-Panko dives into a short history of metallic U-turns with Cynic (thrash- to fusion-metal to progressive rock), Paradise Lost (death metal to Gothic rock), Alcest (black metal to shoegaze) and others.

One band missing from the article's puzzle, however, is Lantlôs. Largely the vision of German musician Markus "Herbst" Siegenhort, Lantlôs began as a tortured black-metal project with a penchant for acoustic guitars and post-rock swells. Alcest's own visionary, Neige, contributed vocals (and perhaps some of the shoegaze-jazz nods) to .neon and Agape, but with Melting Sun, Siegenhort ditches the screamed vocals and delivers the most fully realized heavy dream-pop album in recent memory. Just listen to the regal and elevating "Melting Sun II: Cherry Quartz."

For all its shimmering guitars and far-away glances, "Cherry Quartz" ends up being the doomiest track on Melting Sun. Echoes of tremolo'd guitars explore the low end of the instrument, crushing rhythm sections out of Jesu's heaviest moments are broken up by trippy ambient deviations, and somewhere buried in the bliss is Siegenhort's coo. For a musician once inspired by the Norwegian frost, "Cherry Quartz" chronicles a summer morning walk through the forest, Siegenhort writes:

"Melting Sun II: Cherry Quartz" was inspired by a cherry-tree alley in the woods near my house. I used to go to there with my dog in the summertime. It feels a bit like a magic place, an ethereal rest or kind of like an oasis, and it really gets me high when I go there. I went there so often and the drastic change, like coming from the dark woods into this enlightened place, fascinated me and gave it an otherworldly quality. This song is strongly connected with the density of that place, and I tried to cover the hazy and dizzy feel of a summer wind waving cherry-tree blossoms.

Melting Sun comes out May 2 on Prophecy Productions (North America, rest of the world).

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