Lantern – Dimensions Review

This review is obscenely late. Mostly because I’m trying to complete a PhD and not contract terminal stupidity from my Government. I’ve also been increasingly distracted by death metal’s performance this year. Without doubt, the genre’s legion of revenant revengers have clawed through the rot of 2020 and thrust a flayed face to the light. Lantern, who shone so pallid and putrid in 2017, are of particular note. Three years after their electric sophomore outing, these furious Finns have finally seen fit to illuminate us once more. Previous album Morphosis was an angular take on the genre’s old school, which swung the scythe with more than a little blackened vigor. The record’s jagged approach to rhythm and adroit execution ensured its place in heavy rotation. Now, third album Dimensions looks to do the same and explore even more of that seductive ingenuity.

Death metal’s early capacity for innovation prominently flows through this band’s veins. Lantern‘s fixed rictus grin and willingness to pillage the sepulchral sump for all manner of cruci-riffs reflect that succinctly without relying too heavily on nostalgia. Wanton riff-mongering and excellent yet fractious transitions propel the album’s impact. Not unlike a more blackened Atheist but with a pinch of Finnish flavor. “Strange Nebula” and “Cauldron of Souls” both permeate the memory banks with snapping rhythms and dark melodies. The former boasts a huge chorus, while the latter is as fluid as it is sharp. It’s immediately recognizable that the band’s songwriting is vastly improved.

Lantern have actively primed the album’s DNA with their elevated engineering. Each song segues into the next and it makes for a much more cohesive experience. “Strange Nebula” riffs it’s way into the warped tremolos of “Beings,” which in turn collapses into the seasick tumult of “Portraits.” I adore Morphosis but it has some clear highlights. Dimensions tightens the grip and provides each track with its own identity; one that delicately bleeds into the next capricious character. Progression in death metal is hardly new, so much so that it corresponds to a niche category, complete with signature hallmarks. Lantern organically expand upon their sound without veering into their sister-genre’s territory. This isn’t the remit of Obscura or Beyond Creation. Instead, it’s the same familiar creativity that drove Pestilence, Atheist or even Sabbat all those years ago.

Sadly, progression isn’t always the way forward. Dimensions isn’t a perfect record. Guitarists St. Belial and Cruciatus fill the album with engrossing twists and turns that develop within a deathly compound. The improved production and mix make the most of their guitar tone and give new life to Necrophilos’ gruff vocals. But, by the album’s close, reach and grasp find themselves somewhat at odds. “Shrine of Revelation” isn’t quite as memorable as the others, while “Monolithic Abyssal Dimensions” is a somewhat ill-conceived closing epic. At fourteen minutes long, it lacks some of the cogency that galvanizes the rest of the album. That the song doesn’t exist as a vacuous black hole, however, is another testament to the writing. The album’s great riffing and excellent soloing are all present and correct, but the track just falls short of its slight bloat.

Death metal, as its name suggests, is absolutely killing it this year. As a result, bands like Lantern who are attempting to build on an already impressive foundation, find themselves judged to something of a higher standard. Dimensions does not disappoint. It does what all good follow-ups should and improves upon its maker’s formula in every way. But most of all, Dimensions succeeds in recalling a time when death metal was first striving for expansion. Against all odds, Lantern continue to cast an impenetrable shadow on a corpse pile teeming with increasingly articulate acts. If you’re a death head like me, be sure to hold the torch high and allow Dimensions to light your way down yet another left hand path.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/lantern666
Released Worldwide: July 10th, 2020

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