Marseille, in the South of France is home to Landmvrks, a band who have been steadily improving a glowing reputation for some time now. Arrival of new album “Fantasy” and the announcement of supporting While She Sleeps and Stray From the Path throughout February has come as a coup for them. They might have the least “Metal” cover art for the new album around, but didn’t someone once say you should never judge a book by its cover? We’re pretty sure that the first bite is with the eye, which flies in the face of that theory, but that’s one for our “The Artwork That Should Not Be” feature. On to the music!
If you’ve not heard any of Landmvrk’s previous work then you might not the opening 36 seconds of melody from album title track “Fantasy” before it kicks in full throttle with some Borders-esq riffage and bulldozer rap-screamed vocals. Dropping back to that melodic part for a chorus piece and then stepping back up the ripping riffage is the sort of master stroke of a mid-album track with that huge contrast giving the track a real cutting edge. It’s also one that showcases both sides of the bands coin of talent in a single song and gives something for all the bands fans. “Wake Up Call” then kicks things off with a 3 minute onslaught of those same heavier guitars and raspy vocals only breaking for few melodic lines in a couple of places. It also sports some of the heaviest vocals on the album, closing out with a pair of guttural parts that come as a real surprise in comparison with some of the classy melodic touches. “Scars” features guest vocals from Florestan Durand of Novelists, which is a pretty obvious collaboration given the amount of touring the pair of bands have done together in recent years. It’s a tune that starts off slow before building into that driven guitar style an urgency that the earlier tracks showed. There is a slightly cringe worthy pronunciation error in the lyrics with “I can’t feel breathe on my face” in stead of “breath on my face” being something that is repeated in the pre-chorus. Natural in some ways when English isn’t your first language but it doesn’t spoil an otherwise decent tune which also features some very tasteful lead guitar flourishes.
The cheesy 90’s Nu-Metal intro vocals of “The Worst of You and Me” are rapidly replaced by some blistering punk speed drum fills and punchy guitars that have some post-hardcore influence. The song has a wonderful flow with music in waves even if there is another language issue towards the end – it makes you want them to record a French language track! “Blistering” has the big clean chorus that the earlier tracks call for and will no doubt be a big sing-a-long tune at summer festivals. It also features a tasty pick slide and some stompy closing guitars alongside a trademark Metalcore “Blegh!”. “False Reality” keeps up the blistering pace that is present in a lot of the bands material with very direct vocals before the clean chorus comes in. Their is a real bounce and bunch to the guitar work on the album as a whole and this tune is a fine example of that. There is also plenty of variety in the guitars on the rhythm and technique side so you get not only the riffs, hooks and leads but also scratches, slides and even the odd bit of DJent in the mix. “Reckoning” features guest vocals from Aaron Matts of Betraying The Martyrs and perhaps paves the way for Landmvrks to tour with them in 2019. What they do with the opportunity is create something that blends Metalcore melody with touches of the power of Deathcore but holding back rather than letting the beast off the leash. That helps create something more in tune with the album and with Landmvrks style and therefore more of a collaboration and it works well.
“Alive” features Camille Contreras, who maybe a relative unknown to some but has been in the Marseille Hardcore scene for a decade. Usually a screamer, her clean vocals on this cut are a real eye opener. The problem with it is that in terms of album flow, having essentially a song that is an acoustic ballad reminiscent of Thursday or Snow Patrol here is disruptive. It’s not that it’s a bad tune as such, just that it would be better to close off the album and perhaps give you the option of cutting it if you didn’t fancy it. Fortunately things pick up into “Dead Inside” – perhaps the opening woah’s in the build up to the first verse are to blend the tracks and avoid too much contrast. Stylistically it’s very similar to any one of the tunes on the album and while it is a decent head banger at points, it doesn’t actually bring anything new to the table. 111 second melodic piece “Kurhah” is an atmosphere building instrumental that is oddly out of place in the context of the album as a whole. If it’s intended to be an introduction piece to closing tune “Disdain” then it doesn’t really work as it doesn’t have any shared element. What it does do is give the heavier, faster and more passionate album closer more weight during the opening verse but that’s it. That being said, “Kurhah” is a thing of beauty and brings to mind snow flakes on a crystal clear cold night. “Disdain” closes the album off with a near 5 minute tune. Opening up with a blistering pace, it has a real power to it that is absent in a few places on the album as a whole. The atmospherics of the pre-chorus and almost buried siren call sound are impressive to say the least and the third or fourth “Blegh!” of the album is right on queue. The return of the guttural vocal and some Bring Me The Horizon “Sempiternal” era vocal techniques in places actually work surprisingly well. [7/10]
“Wake Up Call”
“Scars” (Ft. Florestan Durand of Novelists)
“The Worst of You and Me”
“Reckoning” (Ft. Aaron Matts of Betraying The Martyrs)
“Alive” (Ft. Camille Contreras)
“Fantasy” by Landmvrks is out now via Arising Empire