Sombres Forêts – La Mort du Soleil

SP035I’m of the firm belief that in the coming decades this current period of time will be seen as something of a golden age for the evolution and flourishing of metal music, on par with the explosive rise of black metal in the 90s. What separates this time period from that is the decentralized nature of the expansion; the established borders of black, death, and doom metal are being breached on all sides, and many individual bands are creating new and singular territory for the genre to expand into. At the same time, for those who prefer more traditional approaches, the “old school” revival has seen bands old and new upholding the well established styles with a fierce dedication to style and quality. On La Mort du Soleil, Quebec’s Sombres Forêts sail fearlessly into the former category, facing the deluge of unknown seas.

The bleak, classical acoustic, ocean wave samples, and subtly undulating bass that opens “Des Épaves” suggest that La Mort du Soleil might be more of a customary descent into melancholic black metal, but when the mournful wail of the clean vocals unfold over distant, warped and twisted screams it becomes fast apparent that something different is approaching. From here the album unveils it’s tempestuous character with chaotic mid-paced riffs, often reverse delayed or stretched out into turbulent swells of noise, agonized screams, and powerful, bombastic drumming. These volatile elements roll and crash violently into fragile piano and clean guitar arrangements. It’s as if someone took the depressive black metal genre, a style which does little for myself, disassembled it into its elemental parts, and then wove all the threads back together into something entirely new. Careless reconstitution of an established style of music often leads to frankenstein miscreations of poorly fitted parts, or a bland gruel of so many competing ingredients that they drown one another out, but thankfully Sombres Forêts composed a very deliberate restructuring in La Mort du Soleil. The overall effect is highly impressionistic and evocative of the same feelings brought out in the cover art. There’s a natural flow to it, but it’s as violent as waves in a storm, while the softer moments framed between are like the dying light refracted below the storm clouds.

While that atmosphere is beautifully created, it begins to feel rather limiting to the album’s potential as it goes on. The mood, tumultuous and desperate as it is, is rather static, and this feeling is increased by a lack of memorable riffs. Oddly enough, the most enduring moments of music throughout the album are the piano compositions, while the rest of the album tends to flow together all too smoothly. That’s not to say that their is a lack of movement here, the album is filled with dramatic build ups, fades into calmer, introspective moments, and other such transitions, but the musical content of any given moment just isn’t especially remarkable. The unique texture and atmosphere that Annatar has so carefully created is haunting and brilliantly crafted, and I’ll certainly be returning to it often in the future, but it’s a setting in need of a plot: the presence of distinctive riffs and hooks to really focus that harrowing atmosphere into something with more emotional weight and immediacy. -Jake

Sepulchral Productions

~ by jakemoran on June 19, 2013.

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