More Finnish hell arrives with Lantern’s destructive, doom-infested debut ‘Below’

Finland, here we are again. Another dark, crusty, bruising slab of death metal from your country, a place I’m sure is beautiful, though I’ve never been there, but you’d think otherwise from some of the grimy chaos your musicians have emitted recently. Not that I’m complaining. Keep it as dark and nasty as you can make it, because the run of death squads from your country has been impressive.

And once again we’re settling in with a Dark Descent release, as they’ve culled a hearty, rich crop of the bands from that area and have brought the world some of the finest underground acts going, this time striking gold with Lantern. This duo is a new entry into the world, but they grew out of something already in existence, that being their previous band Cacodaemon, but on the eve of that group’s dissolution, Lantern was forged. This group combines guitarist/bassist/drummer Cruciatas and vocalist Necrophilos into a raging, coffin-ready unit that keeps their sound and influences concentrated on the death bloodstream of the early 1990s.

lantern coverThe band’s full-length debut “Below” follows in the footsteps of a couple of demos and their 2011 EP “Subterranean Effulgence,” and they slowly, carefully crafted these seven tracks that slither by in a little under 40 minutes. That’s a perfect length for this record, as they don’t waste time trying to conjure filler material and they keep the proceedings as violent and mean as they possibly can, meaning “Below” is a perfect dose of their dusty, doomy, infernal death metal but is long enough that you’re definitely going to feel some bruising when it’s over.

This vicious strangler opens up with “Rites of Descent,” that boasts a filthy death riff that opens the casket door, and the wild growls and maniacal screams let you know doom has arrived. There is plenty of crunch, murky fury, and razor-sharp guitar leads that cut through the madness. “Revenant” feels like terrible storm clouds settling in and getting ready to rock you in your house, with talky growls, fast and aggressive playing, and tumult that reminds me a little of Sepultura at their very earliest. “Wrenching Presences” has a morbid atmosphere and a riff that would make Slayer in their prime jealous, and that sets the stage for swirling terror, raw viciousness, and a swarm of anger that boils and bursts. “Manifesting Shambolic Aura” is fast, fuming, and evil through and through, and if you didn’t get that from the sound of the song, you surely will when Necrophilos ritualistically chants, “Ave Satan,” and calls him, “My lantern in the dark.”

“Demons in My Room” might appear cartoon horror film-style from its title, but its doom-infested, dizzying punishment makes it seem more like a first-person account of a haunting rather than something involving buckets of fake blood. “Below” is a slow, numbing, droning instrumental that leads you through a horrible door and right into the 9:20-long closer “From the Ruins.” The track ignites pretty early on, indicating it might go off the rails and take you with them, but they pace themselves, take moments to grind your face into the pavement, and really make sure you’re suffering at the fullest. Then about halfway through, the track ignites again, growls and snarls pour out, terrible chants rise up, and the forces of hell grab you and force you into their suffocating caverns, leaving you forever a bloodstain on the Earth’s crust. Or something like that.

Once again, Dark Descent have found a Finnish abomination to unleash onto an unsuspecting public, and result will mean more lost souls, more demented minds, more crushed bones. Lantern are one hell of a devious force that plays death metal as truly and purely as they come and have nothing but bad intentions in mind. The record might not lead you into eternal damnation, but it’ll give you one generous taste of what burning forever might feel like.

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