Lotan – Lotan

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: March 2023
Released: 2023, Uprising! Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Lee Carter

When your subgenre is well into its fourth decade of existence, you can feel a degree of comfort in its hallmarks. While the finer details of its birth can be debated by more scholarly folks than here, black metal has had a forty-year history of pushing boundaries and bothering everyone’s mothers with its affinity for Satan and scary dress-up. So after so long at the game, where does it go to retain an edge?

It is at this point that a black metal band presenting itself as in league with the red man brandishing a pitchfork can come across as one of two key things: amusing if they are being serious, or self-knowing if it is simply a form of set-dressing for the genre. So where do LOTAN sit on this rather simplistic spectrum? With the utterance of the line “I am Satan” in opener “Diabolis Victor” raising a smile, you would be forgiven for thinking it is more towards the former, yet right across the album you are never left thinking that the band will be announcing their sixth member to be a Mr Lucifer Esq.

What is particularly notable on first listen is just how good the album sounds from a production perspective. It is by no means an ultra-slick, modern-sounding album, but a clear yet gritty body of work that retains that feel of the underground without sacrificing audibility on the altar of kvlt. There is a brightness that perks the ears up and makes you want to listen to more – and there’s a solid hour on offer for you to feast upon, should you choose to.

Musically, LOTAN’s self-titled release is, in a fashion, black metal 1-0-1. You have the main staple of unbridled fury, with tremolo riffs and blast beats, alongside more thrash metal-esque double bass chunks as in “Ashera”. Of course, what black metal album would be complete without forays to the frostbitten North with frigid arpeggiated passages as in “Ignis”, or closer “Leviathan”? You know, the good stuff. Yet the album’s two highlights are where LOTAN try a few different things to add extra intrigue to the fold.

The first instance of this comes in “Ishtar”, where clean guitars herald the track’s opening, before giving way to a rousing, groove-laden punch that calls to mind a less technical NILE. It is certainly the album’s big “this will go down well live” moment, and the closer reliance on groove absolutely underlines this. Yet for the marriage of all black metal’s best moments, from atmosphere, furious speed and the occasional groove, “The Faithless” is what delivers the goods ably. Acoustic guitars make an appearance to much aural delight, whilst the droning, ghostly melodies of the song’s main part call to mind OPETH having raided their mums’ make-up bags. Ten minutes of finery that is well-worth the time investment.

As is often the case with most music these days, there will be no awards for innovation. LOTAN make black metal with a “Satanic spiritualism, Mesopotamian myths and existential philosophy” bend – which almost seems par for the course – but there is vim and verve across the album’s run time that offsets this. It makes for a very pleasant listen, and a rewarding one at that to any discerning black metal fan. While there is plenty that would convince many of their deadly seriousness to Old Nick, LOTAN strike the perfect balance between believing their source material and merely using it as a tool. Black metal may now be old, but there is still gold out there.



1. Diabolis Victor
2. Ignis
3. Ashera
4. Ishtar
5. Servant Of Yammu
6. The Faithless
7. Leviathan

Band line-up:

Phillip Kaaber – Guitar
Martin Rubini – Vocals
Lasse Guldbæk Jensen – Bass
Jon Schmidt – Drums
Andy Dragsberg – Guitar