Review by TheOneNeverSeen on April 9, 2023.
Thankfully, the expectations I expressed in my Nihil Sacrum review have been met, for Lotan’s first full-length features a much more diverse songwriting than the band’s previous releases. The band has most certainly expanded its boundaries, employing new elements in its music and not relying too much on one specific style as it did before. Obviously, this involves taking more risks, and some of the bold experiments tried on Lotan’s self-titled album have rather failed both compared to the band’s other efforts and on their own. However, since the band has already proven capable of writing cool, exciting melodies on their two EPs, such way of introducing greater creativity mostly works, making Lotan an overall enjoyable release.
The sound has not changed much since Angelus Pestis, although I would say the drums sound cleaner and better mixed. I don’t think Lotan’s sound requires any major improvements, though, with the powerful vocals combining nicely with the thick yet melodic guitars and the solid drumming not being indulged in obtrusive blast beats, which, unfortunately, is what happens quite often with bands like Lotan. What did change (and quite significantly) is, as mentioned above, the band’s songwriting. Not only did Lotan employ new elements in their music such as the nice piano at the beginning of 'Diabolis Victor' or the clean passage in the middle of 'Ignis', they have also diversified their melodies as a whole, making them less reliant on the main riff, at the same staying loyal to their previous style on tracks like 'Ishtar'.
What is also worth noting is that half of the album’s songs exceeds 6 minutes, which is interesting considering the band has never released even a single track of that length before. The success of this experiment varies, with 'Diabolis Victor' offering an epic melody with the sinister and thrilling passage at 2:58 and 'Leviathan', for example, getting overly repetitive and unexciting over time. The tracks written in the similar fashion to Nihil Sacrum and Angelus Pestis are more consistent with 'Ignis', 'Ashera' and 'Ishtar' all being enjoyable and well-executed melodic black songs. Also, even on the longer track 'Servant of Yammu' Dark Funeral’s influence I mentioned in my Nihil Sacrum review is still noticeable, but not during the entire song (huge sections of it are written in Lotan’s own style the main source of inspiration for which I cannot identify), which is good and representative of a more sophisticated songwriting. The only songs I personally didn’t deem as enjoyable are 'The Faithless' and 'Leviathan', the main riffs of both of which are solid yet mingled with less impressive passages that fail to stand out from the rest of the album. However, they aren’t bad, either, and possess the mysterious feeing the band’s other songs do, making Lotan a consistent record without any disappointing tracks.
The lyrics I have managed to locate are fine, not too cliched and even feature a few cool-sounding lines like "I’m animal, perfectly flawed, never in awe" and "moth to the flame seeks the neon lights". Even though they don’t offer anything spectacular, they are certainly superior to the majority of modern black metal lyrics, which is another appealing aspect of the release.
In conclusion, although not perfect, Lotan is yet another piece of evidence of the band’s potential and also a sign they are willing to experiment with their style, writing more complex, even if not always as memorable, melodies. Definitely the most solid melodic black metal full-length of 2023 so far that set the bar very high for the band.
Rating: 9 out of 10489