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Absolutely Ecstatic - 95%

CrimsonFloyd, December 14th, 2011

In 2010 Lantlôs set the bar for the budding post-black metal sub-genre with the masterful ".Neon." The album explored themes of isolation and alienation within modern society through a keen interweaving of jazz, black metal and post rock. 2011’s "Agape" can be seen as a sister album, exploring the opposite theme—our various attempts to remain connected within an estranged world.

In exploring this theme, Lantlôs’s sound receives quite the makeover. Save Neige’s razor sharp wails, there are no real black metal elements on Agape. Instead, Lantlôs take on a cleaner but heavier sound (think Isis and early Pelican). The album is full of colossal, consuming riffs that bathe the listener in an overflow of emotion. While elements of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s cathartic brand of post rock can be heard throughout, there are also jazzier moments that draw from the lush, mellow sounds of Do Make Say Think and Dirty Three.

Songwriter Herbst gathers all these elements together into a short but powerful journey through the highs and lows of self-transcendence. The album can be neatly dissected into two sides. The first half consists of the two goliaths, “Intrauterin” and “Bliss”. These two tracks crush with thick slabs of riffage and piercing howls, only to strip down to a peaceful, jazzy interludes before crashing into yet another wall of sound. These songs are extremely emotional but ambiguously so—like a madding muddle of tears, laughter, lust and fury.

With the venom and fire cleansed on side A, side B starts with a pair of shorter, mellower post-rock tracks. “Bloody Lips and Paper Skin” interweaves aqueous bass lines and catchy post-rock hooks with black metal screams into an oddly mirthful yet highly addictive piece of metal. “Bloody Lips…” falls into the lullaby-like instrumental “You Feel Like Memories,” which stands as a final breath of calm before the epic closer. “Eribo - I Collect The Stars” is almost orgasmic. The guitars release wave after wave of radiant bliss as if the instruments themselves had been slipped a dose of ecstasy. The lyrics, however, are extremely masochistic, as Neige’s tortured cries describe being willingly torn to pieces. “Eribo…” is the metallic equivalent of Godspeed’s “Storm”—a track so cathartic that it is almost unbearable.

Lantlôs had already established themselves as a leading light in the post-black metal scene; however, "Agape" takes their sound to a whole new level. Building upon their wide array of influences, Lantlôs ultimately create an album that is totally original in scope and style. The severity of wretched black metal screams and the force of metal riffs to push post rock to new heights, making the ecstatic finale all the more moving. A landmark for both post rock and metal, "Agape" is an example of fusion at its best.

(Originally written for http://www.deafsparrow.com/)