Many people know about Lantlôs because of Alcest frontman Neige’s past involvement, but Markus Siegenhort has remained the project’s mastermind since 2005. The everchanging lineup might explain Lantlôs’ genre trajectory. Their 2008 self-titled debut epitomized post-black metal before anyone really knew what that was, leaving .neon and Agape to expand the subgenre’s parameters. After three strong albums, 2014’s Melting Sun sparked a new era for Lantlôs. It leaned into Deftones-ish alt-metal and shoegazey post-metal, tied together by some of the best production of the 2010s. Siegenhort overcame many setbacks to bring a followup album seven years later. Wildhund is far from metal proper, but Siegenhort’s vision makes it worth the wait.
The contrast to Melting Sun is apparent right off the bat, as drummer Felix Wylezik busts out much more chops amid the chunky low end and dancing synth arpeggios of “Lake Fantasy”. Siegenhort emphasizes Lantlôs' most accessible tendency, but the cut also displays the project’s increased technicality. The song’s breakdown section shows how Lantlôs can get more raw without sacrificing the shimmering aura—all the while recontextualizing a distinct syncopated motif. This balance of tempestuous riffage, aggressive drumming and transportive melody makes “Magnolia” come off like a progressive take on Helmet or a newer act like Chastity. The way Siegenhort weaves glistening hooks into electrifying riff changes.
Alt-metal could describes much of Wildhund, but Lantlôs clearly has no regard for appeasing fans of older albums. The first two minutes of “Cocoon Tree House” comes closer to early Foo Fighters than post-metal, but even the slower, more monolithic mid-section maintains undeniable hookiness. Complete with whimsical lyrics like “Always looking up the sky/Moving with the clouds/To feel the beauty of it all,” there’s really nothing gnarly about it. Still, this really shouldn’t matter to anyone who enjoys thoughtful songwriting. Besides, the hypnotic rawness of “Vertigo” shows how hard these riffs to hit, even if they recall ‘90s alt-rock.
What certainly hasn’t changed is Lantlôs’ detailed production, as spotlighted in the ambient interlude “Cloud Inhaler.” The track evidences the expansiveness of Siegenhort’s musical through its deep drones and layered modulations, which flows naturally into the slow-burning crescendo of “Planetarium.” The ethereal, minimalist side of Lantlôs tactfully makes its way to breathtaking mountaintops of reverb-soaked splendor. Attention to detail dives these sprawling meditations a melodic thrust, and does the same when Lantlôs brings the ruckus. Wildhund’s sheen of ‘90s riff music doesn’t seem doesn’t prevent the band’s unique musicality to shine.
Whether it’s the math-rock curveballs of “Home” or the inexplicable metalcore breakdown at the end of “The Bubble,” the sonic range of Lantlôs hasn’t receded within an accessible framework. If anything, it now reaches farther than ever, as Siegenhort uses harsh vocals to emphasize both tracks’ peak aggression. Both cuts stand out for their ability to find the eye of the sonic storm at the opportune moment, emerging from heavy alternative skirmishes into sublime, harmonious dreamscapes. Where Melting Sun was more concerned with slow-motion universe-shattering processions, Wildhund introduces a variety of ideas without losing its predecessor's immersive quality.
Lantlôs’ invigorated songwriting doesn’t come without its risks. The crutch of repeating an idea into oblivion is gone, so deeper cuts like “Amber” and “Dream Machine” need to stand out in their own right. Luckily, neither track lapses in creativity. “Amber” punctuates its enveloping progression with some jagged old-school screamo, as “Dream Machine” submerges unpredictable rhythm changes in a bath of glacial chords and triumphant melodies. The band’s ability to constantly add an extra synth or backing vocal to every passage makes Wildhund both ambitious and easy to enjoy.
Perhaps the metallic appeal of Lantlôs comes more in fleeting surges of intensity, rather than a constant attack. It’s hard not to get a stank face when the slow-moving “Dog In The Wild” locks in the bottom string with the bass drum. It almost recalls the breakdowns of recent metalcore exports like Sleep Token. But also like Sleep Token, Lantlôs is really there for the memorable melodies. It’s fitting that “Lich” ends the album with up-tempo gusto. Wildhund makes no apologies for its energetic side, showing that metal and shoegaze doesn’t have to be simple ideas atop billowing walls of sound. The music is constantly evolving, whether its song to song or album to album.
Lantlôs may have little resemblance to its original form, but Siegenhort has yet to steer his band in the wrong direction. Wildhund is a welcome departure, and a surprisingly natural blend of palatable and experimental ideas. It might not be an album to mosh to, but it tastefully incorporates heaviness into its kaleidoscopic genre mash.