Honesty in band promotion is about as common as happy, uplifting Finnish music. Despite this dire paucity, Lanfear keeps things refreshingly real. Their website bills them simply as “underrated metal” and I couldn’t agree more. These German prog-power champs have some impressive albums under their belts, but they aren’t as known or as appreciated as they should be. Their 2003 Art Effect release was mucho engaging, slick and professional. Their Another Golden Rage platter was excellent and had four slobberknocker songs I still play all the damn time (“Shades of Black,” “Transmigration,” “The Voice Within” and the title track, for you cherry pickers). Their 2008 follow-up, X to the Power of Ten, while not quite as slobberknocky, was still an above-average dose of prog-power with a myriad of interesting, hooky moments and loads of standout musicianship (I’m still bitter that mega-voice Tobias Althammer bailed after Another Golden Rage to do God-knows-what). Now we get the long-awaited new Lanfear opus This Harmonic Consonance and again, they show their quality and mettle, in metal. It’s prog-power all day long and they bring back a crucial element of their sound that was inexplicably missing on X to the Power, namely, black metal influences! Yes, a prog-power band with a slightly blackened sheen is a rare breed of Altered Beast. While these influences don’t come to the fore consistently, they adds an interesting flavor to the mix whenever they do surface. Since Lanfear‘s songwriting chops haven’t dulled, This Harmonic Consonance proves to be top-shelf prog-power with tons of melody and plenty of muscle to balance things out.
After a short, mood-setting intro, “Colours of Chaos” rips the cover off things in true Lanfear fashion. Heavy, larger-than-life riffs which shift from thrash to sedate in a flash, are coupled with the powerful and diverse vocals of Nuno Miquel de Barros Fernandes (sounds like a famous swordmaster), and big moments of memorable metal ensue. The chorus is huge and instantly likeable and the everything is polished and classy. “By-Product Nation” is aggressive and has some of the aforementioned black metal vibe mixed in. I love the way the riffs and vocals play off each other at 1:45. There’s a lot of energy and urgency and another ginormous chorus to boot. “The Reverend” is a big standout with a masterful chorus and winningly melancholy vibe akin to Rage for Order era Queensryche. “Camera Silens” has uber cool layered vocals (one clean, one blackish) and yes, it has a big, infectious chorus too! The top dog is undoubtedly “Idiopathic Discreation” with its epic length, diverse moods and textures and yet another world-beater chorus that can’t be forgotten. All these songs ply exceptional songwriting and technical ability to obtain the best possible result for the listener.
While Lanfear‘s grip on their songcraft slips a bit around on the back end of “I Robo Sapiens,” it’s still a solid song. Only “Word Not Spoken” misses the mark and never seems to get going, keeping you waiting for the flare up of exceptionalism that never arrives. Things do bounce back well for the closer “Disharmonic Consonance,” which has a cool chorus very similar to an ’80s pop hit I can’t quite place and it’s slowly driving me batty (seriously, if anyone figures it out, tell me!).
Though I still miss the vocal talents of Tobias Althammer, Nuno is one hell of a singer and he can do pretty much anything with his voice. He effortlessly handles the harder moments and the soft, introspective ones as well. He has a very nuanced delivery at times but also reaches the stratosphere when appropriate, and he attacks this material with real gusto. Markus Ullrich acquits himself as a formidable fret-man and he brings a lot of interesting details and subtle tricks to the songs. I was especially impressed with his playing on “Idiopathic Discreation.”
This is smooth, exceptionally well-done prog-power from vets of the scene and its sure to please fans of Anubis Gate, Symphorce, Redemption and even later period Fates Warning. I don’t know why these guys aren’t bigger but they just keep churning out high quality material for the benefit of those in-the-know. If you like prog-power with some balls, this is for you. Track down all their stuff (especially Another Golden Rage) and you’ll be happy you did. Let’s get these guys out of the underrated bin!