When Deafheaven released its masterpiece “Sunbather” in 2013, it created a rift in the black metal scene. On one side, there were those who dismissed this new wave as not being black metal at all, while on the other side an increasing amount of artists started using the musical aesthetics of the genre as an outlet for their melancholic creativity. One band that’s clearly on ‘the other side’ is Antlers. After a debut album in 2015, “Beneath.Below.Behold” is the second release of the German band and the first one that I am hearing.

Covered with psychedelic artwork, atmospheric black metal may not be the first thing to be expected on “Beneath.Below.Behold”, but that’s exactly what it offers. With a sound reminiscent of fellow countrymen Der Weg Einer Freiheit and Imperium Dekadenz, Antlers bring 51 minutes of melodic black metal, wrapped in layers of overwhelming melancholy. The album contains six ‘complete’ songs and three short instrumentals with a coherent sound and style, solid musicianship, a decent enough production and a vocal delivery that can be expected in this genre.

Antlers have the quality to merge the melodic black metal sound of the ’90s (think of Satyricon’s earlier works and Dawn) with modern post-black influences, adding an epic grandeur befitting the atmosphere. On top of that, “Beneath.Below.Behold” shows that Antlers are really good at their job and have the ability to write top quality songs (“Beneath The Golden Light”). Some points for improvement are the rather nondescript clean vocals, instrumentals lacking impact and the songs being a bit hard to distinguish from each other. However, all in all, “Beneath.Below.Behold” is a great release that firmly puts Antlers on the map as one of the more interesting atmospheric black metal bands anno 2018.

(8.5/10 Lykle Thijssen)