By Jonathan Smith
There’s not a great deal that can be said about Germany’s Lantlôs and their sophomore release that can’t be explained by pointing to the man who makes up half of the band. .neon will ring a bell with those who are familiar with vocalist Neige‘s recent body of work (Alcest and Amesoeurs, just to name a few acts). That’s a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your feelings regarding the busy performer’s musical output. If you’ve enjoyed his recent work and are attracted to “post rock” spins on black metal sounds, there’s little reason you won’t enjoy the solid material found on .neon. There are few surprises on offer instrumentally that truly distinguish the record from Neige’s other recent releases, but if it’s the comfortable familiarity of alienating vocals and a world-weary vibe that you crave, you’ll find it here.
.neon, with a sound that is labelled as “black metal/post-rock,” is a less ambient offering than Alcest’s most recent release, but it still relies on the melodic, distorted, thin-sounding tremolo riffs and manic drumming that sub-genre fans can expect. Opening track “Minusmensch” starts the record off with an almost jazzy feel, taking its time to wallow in single note progressions and restrained drums before building up to Neige’s high-pitched but guttural vocals and the cutting buzz of the full instrumental ensemble. “These Nights Were Ours” sounds like an album opener but, while perfectly enjoyable, isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. “Neige de Mars” is characterized by some entertaining tempo changes that keep it from becoming too predictable. “Coma” and the title track are straight-forward mid-tempo “rockers,” with the latter featuring an distorted, intercom-esque voiceover. It is the little touches, including the brief suggestions of jazz, that do conjure up a thematic sense of isolation within modern times. While this is indeed a different vibe from the more nostalgic, fantastical vibe given off by Alcest’s albums, Lantlôs remains very similar in feel. This fact alone should be enough to help one decide whether or not .neon is worth pursuing.