The subjectivity of music is the source of our endless fascination with this peculiar, ephemeral artform. One person may really click with lyrics, another the musicianship, while others are bewitched by the performance and spectacle as a whole. It is these differences in perspective, these different focuses of attraction, which often spark such furious debate amongst fans.
One subgenre has continually caused intense division amongst the broad “heavy music” community is metalcore, a genre which at its core draws together elements from hardcore punk and heavy metal, with increasing recourse to extreme metal subgenres too, as in the wave of blackened hardcore bands of late. This straddling of genre lines results in internal divisions too; some metalcore fans lean more towards brutality and heaviness, while others seek melody and quiet reflection. Marseille quintet LANDMVRKS walk the line between these two ideals, bringing together hard-hitting beatdowns with ethereal vocals.
The band’s new record Lost In The Waves is rammed full of hooky choruses, put to the backdrop of shredding guitars and absolutely mindblowing drumming. The record is not reinventing the wheel here; there are clear nods to bands like The Ghost Inside, Stray From The Path and Hundredth. But that doesn’t take away from how well constructed this record is musically, and how much fun it is from top to bottom. Opening with title track ‘Lost In A Wave’, LANDMVRKS put their best foot forward right from the off. After a slow intro build the track comes in at a hundred miles an hour, with vocalist Florent Salfati practically starting the record by saying “We’re here, now fucking pay attention”.
What LANDMVRKS use to incredible effect is the ability to switch between the heavier side of their music, to the more melodic without so much as a blink of the eye. Fortunately, when the clean elements of their songs come in they don’t have a cheesy or forced quality, which should perk up the ears of any 2brutal4u naysayers. Rather than emphasising voice and guitar alone, a huge driving force for the record is drummer Kevin D’Agostino. His skills behind the kit dictate the pace of the record, when songs need time to breathe and when to be frantic and hectic, and his ability to switch and move between blast, groove and fill is critical. It is this dynamic which affords LANDMVRKS the chance to really play around with what they want to create in their sound.
Songs like ‘Overrated’ and ‘Say No Word’ put paid to blending together sweet harmonies and melody with aggression, and here the five-piece are at their best. The record closes with a complete change of pace with ‘Paralyzed’, a song which is the band’s letter of hope to those struggling during the pandemic – a sombre cut where Salfati leans into his phenomenal extended range. Even though it is clearly a move away from the rest of the album, its almost triumphant air juxtaposes well with the preceding tracks. Even though there may not be anything particularly groundbreaking about Lost In The Waves, the record is still incredibly enjoyable and feels familiar in so many ways, and that is what many people need in these weird times.
Lost In The Waves is out tomorrow via Arising Empire and can be ordered here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck