French metalcore outfit LANDMVRKS return with their second studio effort, two years after their debut album ‘Hollow’, broke them and earned them festival appearances and slots alongside the likes of heavyweights While She Sleeps.
It’s fitting then that ‘Fantasy is very much in the same vein, wearing its influences on its sleeve with heavy breakdowns, melodic hooks, and exciting lead guitar work making an appearance on almost every track.
The record’s eponymous offering hurtles back and forth between crushing verses and a sing-along chorus, but the transitions between the two are sharp and a little jarring. Unfortunately, given its position as opener, it’s one of the weaker cuts from the album and the band only really begin to show their songwriting ability from ‘Scars’, the third cut in.
It’s no wonder that ‘Scars’ was chosen to be a single. Though still cast in the very familiar metalcore mould, it has bags more character than its predecessors, thanks in no small part to the frequent and memorable licks courtesy of guitarists Nicolas Exposito and Thomas Lebreton.
The uptick in quality continues across the middle third of the album, with fellow single ‘Blistering’ being yet another high point. Equipped with a fearsome sing-along chorus, and not the only one on the album, it’s tracks like this and ‘Dead Inside’, a rager with an absolutely massive chorus destined to be a stand-out in the live set, that give the impression that LANDMVRKS are only beginning to touch on their potential.
It’s also interesting to note that the cleaner, melodic sections are almost invariably the highlights of their respective songs. The chugging, riff-heavy verses are more than enough to get your head banging, but come a little too close to generic.
Whilst there’s not a bad track on the record, and certainly nothing that could fairly be considered filler, it’s too solid but unspectacular. Not every album can be revolutionary, and perhaps it’s setting the bar a little high for a young band on their sophomore release, but ‘Fantasy’ finds itself failing to develop beyond the over-familiar.
The bright spots dotted throughout where the band demonstrate confidence and add their own flair and character to their tried and true metalcore foundations give hope that next time around they will step up and define their own more unique sound.