Review Summary: Lost Themes II fills in the cracks and offers a much tighter album.
Since John Carpenter's venture into the musical realm in 2015 with Lost Themes
-- a collection of archived tracks that were dug out from the dusty cabinet and overhauled for release on said album -- it appears he's caught a buzz from its release; hanging up his camera in favour of his synth, a world tour in motion, and this new LP, it looks as though John Carpenter is in it with both feet.
Just a years on from his debut and already Lost Themes II
has dropped. From my first spin of the album, it quickly became apparent that this was a much more thought-out record: it has more depth, it's much more cohesive, and definitely an experience that will take a few listens before it all sets in. The LP feels like a collective whole than a mishmash of different vibes and tones, like its predecessor was. There's also a few nice surprises along the way, "Hofner Dawn" and "Windy Death" go for the same sonic-picture painting a lot of black metal bands are doing these days: the former has more of a medieval influenced soundscape, while "Windy Death" conveys a calming, cold feel; it's an eye-widening moment when you come to these tracks as they create such a vivid and bright picture that's quite different to anything John has done before it. Extremely melodic and one of the highest moments on here. "Dark Blues" and "Virtual Survivor" go for the signature droning synth and 80s snare drum sound everyone knows him for, complete with solos. While the first three tracks on here are where the album sits strongest; showing optimistic signs of a solid foundation for future records to come. All three tracks are strong and interesting compositions that contain all the hallmarks of his previous works, but bring the spice and freshness needed to maintain interest. "Distant Dream" is a building track, that keeps building until it explodes into this almighty, distorted wall of power that once its peaked, creeps back into its build-up form again before finishing -- a real highlight. While the album closer, "Utopian Facade", is a nice touch, and a fantastic, and epic, way of finishing off the album. It's a song that showcases and hones in on Carpenter's writing abilities -- and as a musician -- proving he has a little more about him than the styles you've come to associate with his music.
There is very rarely a dull moment here. "Angels Asylum" was the only track on here that left my mind to wonder, but, then again, it never really did anything for me when it was released as a single either. It's the only song on here that lacks the layers or punch; it feels a little flatline and weak compared to the rest of the tracks on here. Its saving grace is the medieval riff that brings the song to a close, but it's so left field that it feels like a separate song entirely. It would have been better suited as an intro to "Hofner Dawn."
Overall, this album improves on everything that was lacking on last record: songs on here feel far more fleshed out and better crafted than they did on Lost Themes
. The debut was a great record, but it had moments of stale or dated sounds, and dullness. This time, the album is more tightly knit and manages to hold my interest throughout, every time. The biggest praise I can give Lost Themes II
is that it proves John Carpenter has a lot more to offer fans in the future, and with an album of this calibre I can't wait to hear what else he has in store for us.
Edition: C̶D̶, VINYL, M̶P̶3̶
Packaging: The Vinyl comes in a standard vinyl sleeve, but the middle has a window to see the inner sleeve behind it. (A style of packaging David Bowie's Blackstar came in, and a style I'm loving.)
Special Edition: Comes with the bonus track "Real Xeno."