Lantern - II: MorphosisThere are a few bands, of late, grasping abundances of classic death metal in one hand and, with a fistful of innovation in the other, slamming the two together like some kind of malignant Large Hadron Collider®, letting that resulting abomination billow into our collective unsuspecting consciousness. Finland’s Lantern are such augurs of unrest, mixing a witches brew of black and death metal to trouble the mind and fray the nerves. Debut album Below brimmed with pulses of an alien Celtic Frost whilst hosting a virulent vein of dissonant black. Now, follow up Morphosis has arrived to further worry the feeble. Building on the heady dissonance of the previous record, Morphosis elevates and escalates everything that made that album great, but also further evolves their sound, perhaps even forging something entirely their own.

Lantern‘s character is actually quite tricky to presume. The band takes a classic example of death metal and bleeds it through a black metal filter with the occasional brevity and bluster of early grindcore, but the real defining element is the material’s propensity to thrash at the drop of a hat. Main composer and lead guitarist, Cruciatus, has found some kind of alchemical equation to writing progressive music that challenges the boundaries of its amalgam genres, whilst still managing to be remarkably lean. There is absolutely no filler on Morphosis and it doesn’t waste a second in its execution. “Black Miasma” storms through a whole collection of rugged thrash riffs before morphing with ease into atmospheric black metal melodies. Vocalist, Necrophilos, has a hoarse, echo-soaked delivery at his disposal, which lends each cut a particular muscularity and is responsible for a generous share of the material’s mileage.

Each song has its own identity; while “Black Miasma” and “Cleansing of the Air” relay with a series of creeping death metal chords and furious riffing, “Virgin Damnation” crawls through passages of doom metal nihilism, which works wonders when compared to its neighbor, “Transmigration,” one of the album’s most zealously hostile moments. One of the curious things about Lantern‘s output is that, despite the resolutely retro spine supporting their dark craft, they somehow manage not to fall into the same trap as the myriad throwback bands, mercilessly aping their favorite OSDM acts. Although it’s not to the extent of the often impermeable art-death that luminaries Ulcerate are plying, Lantern have concocted a unique signature with unapologetically old-school ingredients. That, in and of itself, is impressive enough. While the band will initially attract gluttons of that classic style, they may be a little surprised at the amount of esoteric character in the material’s composite parts, which will no doubt get to work weeding out some of those stinking casuals. Given the chance, however, Morphosis offers a whole host of riff-worthy opportunities.

Lantern 2017

Immediately recognizable from its predecessor is Morphosis‘ production. This time around, the band are bolstered by a burly and organic mix and everything, from the thick drum tone to Necrophilios’ bellows, are just so fucking bulky whilst still managing to retain that sharp clarity in the guitars. The production truly accentuates the material — I had listened to “Necrotic Epiphanies,” in all of its depravity, at least four times before I realized it was an instrumental. Particularly noteworthy is closer “Lucid Endlessness,” trading brusk rhythms for barren black metal sequences and perpetuating an environment to seamlessly conjure up all manner of overwrought adjectives. I’m sure you get the idea.

Progressive yet practical, extreme without pretension and disturbingly cohesive, Lantern stand shoulder to shoulder with label-mates Horrendous and Blood Incantation in both quality and potential. II: Morphosis is as good an example as any of that strange urge to absorb increasingly dynamic yet unnervingly ugly music. Baudelaire said it, and everything else, best: “The Devil pulls the strings which make us dance; we find delight in the most loathsome things; some furtherance of Hell each new day brings, and yet we feel no horror in that rank advance.” What more do you need to know?

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 17th, 2017

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  • Reese Burns

    Another 4.0.! March is shaping up pretty fuckin good!

  • If it wasn’t for said progressive/esoteric character and as such reduced feverish kaleidoscopic dissonans, I’d be inclined to alter your inscription into Large Cauldron Collider.
    I wasn’t sure exactly what to make of Morphosis after just one spin, but after a second attempt I’m starting to lean toward a positive impression. It sounds complex enough to be a proper grower.

  • Norfair Legend

    I have to give this a 5. This album rips from front to back. Lantern scoring again with a massive head banger.

    I am also not known for my reviews.

  • Jrod1983

    The embedded track sounds awesome, can’t wait to check out the whole thing.
    March has been a terrific month for metal

  • André Snyde Lopes

    That production.

  • Westpaceagle

    Somebody promote Ferrous to dungeon sub-level 7! He deserves an extra morsel and maybe even a cup of bathing water.

    • Ferrous Beuller

      You’re my favourite.

  • Bas

    Have to listen to this (when my wife is not around cause she hates death metal). Great review!!!

  • sir_c

    Woah! Must Have It! How am I gonna tell the kids they won’t have anything to eat next week…

  • I.B. Hurtin

    This kicks major ass. Must buy it now.

  • sjforr

    Great review and thanks for the intro to another band.

    Just coming immediately off the back of an intensive listen to Dodecahedron (the vinyl master is even better for dynamics and nuances btw), the embedded track here sounds pretty straight up to me. But that is no doubt an unfair comparison.

  • Frost15

    That glorious DR 10 score though…

  • Wilhelm

    The production is glorious, the music is freaking dark and scary, the vocals are unique and intriguing – I think we have a winner.

  • I really dug “Below” and the cavernous sound they had. This is a must buy.

    • basenjibrian

      After an initial listen I slmost like Below more. Will keep listening.

    • Kronos

      The Charnel Passages is quickly becoming one of my favorite death metal albums ever. Any time someone says that death metal needs to be compressed heavily to sound brutal need only listen to that album to be utterly convinced of their wrongness.

  • basenjibrian

    Dammit. I just watch my checking account drain

  • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

    While this isn’t quite to my taste (yet – some of the embedded tracks riffs were pretty solid), I’m really digging these high-DR albums lately. In my cans, the drum cymbals on albums like these sound so friggin’ crisp.

    As I finish typing this I’m actually digging this song too. Might have to check this one out.

    Edit – $7 on Bandcamp, can’t pass it up.

  • John Mosley

    Horrendous and Blood Incantation. Oh boy oh boy oh boy.

  • Dudeguy Jones

    Bam! What a review. You are a wordsmith. I fucking love the album too.

  • Tom Hardy

    Lets put some reverb/ echo on the vocals to make this slab of lackluster music to make it heavy, yeah! Finnish Deathmetal of old won’t be proud of this.

    • John Mosley

      Lackluster? How so, friend-o?

      • Tom Hardy

        The song writing’s just … bland/ boring for the lack of a better word, in my humble opinion.

        • Hulksteraus

          Welcome back Mr Hardy!

          • Tom Hardy

            Cheers to you too, Mr. Hulk!

  • Tofu muncher

    Good, but I like Ascended Dead better (AotM contender, that one).

  • drug_genosh

    loving this record the more listens I give it. anyone else getting a weird Vader vibe? like if they were abducted, messed with, and then returned?

  • Nick Maestas

    Holy shit this is good! Any band that is Horrendous-Blood Incantation-Necrovation esque is the shit that is my favorite. Old school but still progressive and old while somehow sounding new, an awesome combination

  • JL

    Not as good as the first but still great.

  • Does anyone think that the first two riff transitions in “Black Miasma” at around 0:28 and 1:10 are hilariously awkward. Like, the guitar riff ends abruptly and then there’s a random bass fill for the first one, and the second one is just wrong, even though it becomes part of the next riff.

    • Name’s Dalton

      I thought that of the first transition as well.

  • GWW

    4.5! Awesome. Groovy and tricky and that ain’t easy! The sound is so crisp and detailed. I can tell right now this will spin many more times this year and make the top section for 2017.

  • GWW

    This is a great Death Metal record. It’s just special and that is saying something when we have Immolation, Epoch, John Frum, Sunless, Suffering Hour, Necrot, Winds of Leng…These Finns are shooting high! Crushing shit.