In continuation of a seeming tradition, Dark Descent Records has released the debut full-length album of another Finnish Death Metal band. This time it’s Lantern’s “Below.” First I’d like to start by saying that it is my hope that this subterranean death cult ultimately receives the praise that they deserve. I picked up the previous EP, “Subterranean Effulgence” a few months ago and was initially confused by it at first. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I mean this in a very good way. Lantern has a somewhat unique sound about them. It’s easy to tag them as another early ‘Entombed’ or ‘Deicide’ sounding band but I honestly believe they are deserving of so much more than mundane and irrelevant comparisons. For the sake of giving a general idea of how it sounded to me, let’s take that powerful pissed off yell that Tom Araya from ‘Slayer’ has and combine it with the sound of Glen Benton’s vocals on early 90s ‘Deicide’ records. Essentially what you get is a bit of a raspy and aggressive shout. I really do wish there was a better way to describe the vocals but there just isn’t. This is one aspect that you just need to hear for yourself. To me it’s what stands out about this band so much. I think it’s what will also push them to new heights and captivate some of the older Death Metal fans.

So with the release of “Below” upon us it’s safe to assume that they’ll carry the same sound present on “Subterranean Effulgence” over to the full-length. This is indeed the case. However! I do believe that the sound is a bit more focused this time around. The guitars are a bit sharper and more punchier. They seem to compliment the vocals very well. I’m hearing a few more solos and intricate pieces in songs like, “Manifesting Shambolic Aura.” The drums are a bit higher in the mix this time too but not to a point where it’s overly excessive like some of the more recent bestial black/death sounding bands.

Although musically the band has been fine tuned they still carry the same lyrical content. As usual this is another thing that’s left to be interpreted by the individual listener. I think it goes without saying that “Below” just like it’s predecessor deals with subterranean themes and reveres the concept of death. Think of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Under the Pyramids” piece and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what it is that went through my head when I first heard the band. In a lot of ways I’m happy that this lyrical concept was expanded upon with the full-length. Dilapidated ruins that lie beneath desert sands. Ritualistic gatherings of a long lost race of occultists gathering in darkened chambers lit only by small lanterns far beneath the surface. It’s content that has so much depth without being overly complex. It’s something that can be pondered upon briefly while absorbing the sound of the record. At the same time you could also spend days contemplating and theorizing as to what it might be like to see some of these horrific lyrics come to life before your very eyes.

This album is special indeed. I can’t find anything about it that I don’t like other than the fact that I wished it was just a bit longer. While it clocks in at nearly forty minutes it’s still a short but sweet offering that should satiate Death Metal fans looking for something new without having to look completely outside the genre itself. This is one of 2013’s must have releases. Keep an eye on ‘Lantern.’ Also try and get your hands on the EP as I’m sure once this record sinks in with the Death Metal crowd people are going to be scrambling for it. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this band.