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Dark Descent (2013)
Rating: 8/10

Dark Descent Records have found a gem of a band in Finland’s Lantern. Not for a long time have I heard such a cavernous sound from a crew who, it would seem, have opted to record their debut full-length platter in a dungeon beneath one of the seven gates of hell. It’s no wonder this intriguing duo have called this seven-track work Below such is its earthy atmosphere.

So, let me introduce the mastermind’s behind this creepy composition. First up there is the multi-talented Cruciatus who seems to be able to play every instrument going. In fact, on this record he does, although the unholy cackles and sinister rasps are left to Necrophilos. The result of these two strange individuals getting together is this unholy slab of an opus that sends shivers down the spine such is its oddness.

The band are clearly influenced by blackened thrash and grimy death metal, but the cauldron they own is clearly one full of their own foetid ingredients. However, fans of old school European thrash bands will certainly find something to savour here in those occasional raging moments and sneering vocals. Below is an intensely suffocating record that has such a peculiar atmosphere to it, as if the twosome has unlocked some secret citadel of carnal knowledge buried deep within the hidden chambers of Hades.

There’s not a bad egg on this record, the band introducing themselves to the metal community by way of ‘Rites Of Descent’, and from thereon it’s a morbid journey through the sewers of hell, via the intoxicating gloom of ‘Revenant’, the billowing black smoke of ‘Entrenching Presences’ and the epic closer ‘From The Ruins’, which for all of its nine minutes will have you feeling like you’ve become trapped in some stuffy attic infested with Lovecraftian horrors.

Lantern arrogantly mock religion, and spit down upon those who are not fit to light their black candles – their angst vomited out in a series of often torturous incantations that are bloated with wailing, yet haunting guitars, distant thunderous drums and Necrophilos’ despicable rasps. One moment thrash, circa the rusted realms of Sodom, Destruction et al, the next, morbid doom that drifts into deathly dynamics reminding one of old Tiamat in its haunting nature. Lantern opt for a very raw, often old school type of sound, but there is such a unique yet indescribable atmosphere, one which you can’t quite put your finger on such is its unearthly origin.

The album runs for under 40 minutes but it will leave you reaching for the hat, coat and scarf in order to warm the cockles, such is the chilly atmosphere of Below. While it is often said that some bands deserve your attention, Lantern really are one to keep an eye on, because these guys shine from the mist like a beacon.

Neil Arnold

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