Review Summary: Bask in the glow.
Warmth is among the most pleasant sensations a person can feel. I believe that the primary reason for that is that it makes one feel comfortable, safe, and by extension, happy. In stark contrast to all of this, of course, is the cold. And if it's one perception that the genre of shoegaze can convey, it's the cold. Lantlos, a band formerly fronted by Neige, the creative mind behind bands Alcest and Amesoeurs has been associated with a brand of music coined as "blackgaze" for a time. "Blackgaze" mixes atmospheric black metal and shoegaze, often culminating in a boreal and wintry impression. However, without Neige's influence, the new Lantlos record contains a very different feeling.
Even in the name and the album cover, Melting Sun
radiates with warmth throughout the albums 40-minute run time. Each new texture added to the music, each graceful vocal section, feels like another ray from the sun reaching the listeners skin. It is a testament to how competent each member is in their respective field that they can make a style of music known for being bitingly cold sound so inviting, so ready to be heard. The record does get off to a bit of a slow start, as the opener is not nearly on the level of the other tracks, but the next three tracks are a magnificent foray into the brightness the record offers.
The ending to "Melting Sun II: Cherry Quartz" drives home how this feeling of warmth is essential to the album. In those last 40 seconds, tremelo-picked guitars play a riff that normally would seem haunting, if not for the atmosphere of the album. In this context, the riff changes from haunting to alluring and gorgeous. The album goes on from there, becoming increasingly beautiful with each song, with the focus remaining on the atmosphere created. Closer "Melting Sun VI: Golden Mind" combines tear-jerking guitars with whispery vocals to make a fulfilling end to the record.
Lantlos may have lost a very talented man in the form of Neige, but the resilience to make a record with this type of atmosphere, a sort of anti-thesis to most "blackgaze" records, is quite impressive to say the least. It's a beautiful listen, and may go down as one of the more important listens in the "blackgaze" scene. Whether or not Lantlos will stick with this style, and even expand on it, is not known. But, with this release, they're certainly making listeners hope so.