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Album Review: Lantern – II: Morphosis

A poet acquaintance of mine once told me that one should never refer to a creative work as ‘interesting.’ According to her logic, it’s the equivalent of saying that a woman has a nice personality when asked if she’s attractive. I don’t know if I necessarily buy that line of thinking, but there is something vague and unsatisfying about the term ‘interesting’ – like it’s a placeholder when you can’t really think of anything of substance to say.

So with that in mind, I have to say that ‘interesting’ is probably the best word I can come up with to describe Finnish death merchants Lantern’s II: Morphosis. It’s definitely grown on me with repeated listens, but it’s kind of an uneven listen overall – there are some truly inspired moments on the album, but there are a couple too many times when it’s just kind of there for it to really be a satisfying listen.

In general, the doomier the tempo gets on Morphosis, the stronger and more memorable the track is. Guitarist Cruciatus’s has a real knack for writing slow, sinister riffs draped in eldritch atmosphere, but the more up-tempo sections don’t have quite the same staying power. The serpentine intro riff to “Sleeper of Hypnagog,” for example, is positively chill inducing, but when the double-bass verse section kicks in it sounds like another run-of-the-mill death metal song. “Hosting Yellow Fungi” is more successful because it pairs a creeping, musty intro riff with a lurching stop-start verse riff, keeping the listener off balance for pretty much the entire length of the song. Album highlight “Virgin Damnation” is a slow, caustic number that brings to mind the death/doom of fellow Finns (and Dark Descent labelmates) Swallowed. Instrumental “Necrotic Epiphanies” is also one of the stronger tracks on the record, thanks in no small part to the Middle Eastern-sounding coda section. There are a few instances, though – most notably on “Cleansing of the Air” and “Transmigration” – the rote up-tempo riffs all sort of blend together, and the music becomes background noise as my attention starts to wander.

All told, there are more good moments than not on II: Morphosis, and there aren’t any tracks I would straight up call bad. I just wish the album were a little more memorable overall. Still, there are enough slow, sick riffs here to satisfy most death metal fans.

II: Morphosis will be available on March 17 on a variety of formats via Dark Descent Records.

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