30 September 2015

DÉLUGE - Æther

(En français) - Bonne journée à vous tous et bienvenue à une autre ronde de couvrir la roulette ! Aujourd'hui, vous remarquerez peut-être que j'ai commencé ce blog en français. Eh bien, la raison de ceci est parce que je suis en train d'examiner un black metal français/Post Hardcore appelée Déluge. Avant d'aller plus loin en avant, je voudrais commencer par souligner que (très évidemment) la langue française n'est pas familière pour moi. Pour être en mesure de traduire ce paragraphe d'ouverture dans la langue maternelle de déluge, j'ai utilisé le Google Translate facility. Afin que toute erreur sont le groupe de travail de ce géant de l'internet sans âme, pas moi. Le reste de l'examen sera en anglais, mais je voulais essayer quelque chose ici en premier. Petite chose et toutes que jazz... L'autre raison est que je ne peux pas savoir beaucoup à propos de déluge. Aucune date de formage, rien de cette nature. Ce que j'ai trouvé est que déluge est l'oeuvre de Christophe Edrich (l'océan, Hacride, séries Klone.…) et Joey Sturgis (Oceano, la souche d'Acacia, né d'Osiris.…). La description de la bande est très poétique, mentionnant les orages, les portes de l'enfer et autres choses du genre. La principale raison de mon intérêt n'était pas la façon dont la bande décrit leur son, mais la couverture de l'album - Æther. Le couvercle est aussi frappant pour moi comme une couverture qui partage un nom très semblable; cet album est par l'American band appelé outil, l'album s'appelle Ænima. Alors que l'outil couvrir semble très craintif et sombre, le Déluge couvrir semble très européen et l'étourdissement. La part de la tempête à venir entouré par un cercle d'ondes est beau, comme je le dis toujours - une bonne couverture est la façon d'attraper un possible nouveau ventilateur. Ainsi, sans plus de pause ou d'hésitation (et dans ma langue maternelle), il est temps de voir si la musique est aussi mémorables que celle des oeuvres. 

(In English) - Good day to you all and welcome to another round of cover roulette! Today you may notice I have started this blog in French.  Well, the reason for this is because I am reviewing a French Black Metal/Post Hardcore band called DÉLUGE. Before I go any further forward, I would like to start by pointing out that (very obviously) the French language is not familiar to me. To be able to translate this opening paragraph into the native language of DÉLUGE, I have used the Google translate facility.  So any errors are the working of that soulless internet giant, not me. The rest of the review will be in English, but I wanted to try something out here first. Small thing and all that jazz.... The other reason is that I cannot find out much about DÉLUGE.  No forming date, nothing of that nature.   What I have found is that DÉLUGE is the work of Christophe Edrich (The Ocean, Hacride, Klone.…) and Joey Sturgis (Oceano, The Acacia Strain, Born of Osiris.…). The description of the band is very poetic, mentioning thunderstorms, the gates of hell and things of that ilk.  The main reason for my interest was not the way the band described their sound, but the cover of the new album - Æther. The cover is as striking to me as a cover that shares a very similar name; that album is by the American band called Tool, the album is called Ænima.  Whilst the Tool cover looks very apprehensive and dark, the DÉLUGE cover looks very European and stunning.  The hand coming out of the storm surrounded by a circle of waves is beautiful, as I always say - a good cover is the way to catch a possible new fan.  So without further pause or hesitation (and in my mother's tongue), it is time to see if the music is as memorable as that art work.

With a sound that I can only akin to thunder being unleashed on the land, the band start this album with "Avalanche" and it feels like hell is being unleashed onto the world.  It is a powerful black metal torrent of abuse and destruction, then as if to divert everyone you are given a post-metal lull to calm to soul; but then they charge straight back into the pit and my fucking deity, this is one of the best openings I have heard since "Dream House" by Deafheaven - seriously stunning beginning to this record.  "Appât" (which translates to bait) is the second song on the album and there is no iota given once more on this song, much like "Avalanche" it is all out attack from the opening of the song and it is designed to smash the audience into a bloody pulp.  As aggressive as anything that I have heard in black metal, its fast pace destructive tone is uncompromising on the audience once more and demands your attention.  During the ending which is another ambient metal drone that has the sound of rain in the background, leading the album onto the next song "Mélas|Khōlé" and it features Neige from Alcest.  This time the track is not all pedal to the floor black metal, the spaces between with the clear guitars, the ongoing storm (which links all the tracks) and atmospheric pauses give this song a sinister feeling that does not go away once the song has finished playing.  It is a brilliant moment to finish the first third of the album.

The fourth track is called "Naufrage" which translates to shipwreck in English.  Having translated the lyrics to English, it is a song about a shipwreck and the destructive power of the sea.  Musically, it is does not go for full on attack straight away and lets the riffs build up with a powerful, assured style that would make weaker bands piss in their collective pants.  Of course they have a full blast of black metal destruction during the song, but it is not the full tune and it makes this song all the more distinctive as it ends with the sound of the storm continuing once more.  "Houle" (which means swell in English) is not a happy song, my deity it is a harsh number which wishes destruction and pain upon a former loved one who is no longer in favour and there is no happy ending in sight.  The storm is getting louder and the music is matching the mood of the song as well, with howls of pain and anguish from the beginning you are left under no uncertainty that all is not well and you would do well to keep out of the way.  It is fierce, damaged and incredibly powerful - it is one of the highlights on this album which is so far looking inspired.  The sixth track is called "Klarträumer" which is the longest song of the album.  The word Klarträumer is German for lucid dream and this track is an instrumental that focuses more on the dark ambient sound of the band, it does have a brief black metal burst in the middle of the song which was not really needed if I am honest.  The track is created in the rain and the storm once more, all the interesting moments are those post metal moments with the piano adding a dark edge to this tune.  The pieces in between the noise rule this tune, it is another brilliant piece of music from DÉLUGE.

The final third of the album starts off with "Vide" (which is French for vacuum, but can also mean empty), with the sound of a swirling wind, a brief hint of a spoken word piece as the band limber up for their next for next onslaught on the audience.  The words seem to be about the calm after the storm, or about a brief rest bite on the world.  The music does not give you that option and it is a slow, brutal number that takes it time.  It is more sludge like in nature, with shades of black metal thrown in to the mix.  It is a beautiful number, it does not rely on the smash and grab of earlier numbers and it makes another attention grabbing number.  The penultimate song of the album is called "Hypoxie" (translates to hypoxia and it means
deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues), the powerful nature of the band does try to reclaim the mantel once more, that black metal sound with exploded at the beginning of the album; but that is not the nature of this number.  It is a suffocating song, the post hardcore/metal moments and dark ambient sections are the parts which make this number thrive the most.  It is another lengthy number that you cannot help but be impressed with.  Ending the album is "Bruine" which translates to drizzle; there is nothing here to save the band - everything is fucked and they want you to know it as they take you down with them into the abyss that is their rotten souls.  This is dark, ladies and gentlemen - this is an incredible dark number where you will get no light, no remorse and hope is to be abandoned at the door.  Of course, I love it and as the guitars fade into the rain I am given no relief as the storm still crashes into you even towards the bitter end.

I am so impressed by this album, hands down one of the best finds I have unearthed on cover roulette.  I am stunned by the dark beauty of the album, the performance which is equally fierce and fragile in many places; the record is one that should be given higher praise amongst the metal community.  For the black metal genre it is another stunning moment and if you have the slightest interest in the genre, then this is an album which you need to have in your life.  I hope the French at the beginning of this review is translated correctly, but to summarise this review - Beau, juste incroyablement beau.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

Top track - Avalanche 

You can purchase a copy of Æther from Amazon here

You can purchase a digital version of the album from the Deluge Bandcamp page here

You can follow the activities of DÉLUGE here on Facebook

You can stream the album on Spotify here

You can stream the album on Deezer here

You can stream the album on Tidal here

The Sword - High Country

Confession time, if you did not read my review of "Warp Riders" (review cleverly linked here) then maybe you should before reading this.  I loved the production of the album, but the sound was too backwards for me.  The band sounded fantastic performance wise, but I was not impressed.  So I have not really felt inclined to approach them again, but in the spirit of fairness (and a request from one of my mates) it would seem that fate has brought me back to the Austin natives.  The album was recorded in Austin, Texas and Asheville, North Carolina with producer Adrian Quesada.  Now I will be honest, I am always willing to give a band another chance so it is with hope that I start this blog.  I have changed my mind on bands before, let us see what 'High Country' has turned out to be.

Introduction track “Unicorn Farm” is just the smallest taste of the band; it is very electronic compared to how I remember them, it is a shame it does not last longer as I feels like it could have been stretched out for a lot longer than the fifty seconds that it is in the world.  The next track is “Empty Temples” which is sounds like the crossover of Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Jeff Wayne, it is a classic rock/prog melting pot and it will give classic rock fans something to cheer for, stoners something to space out to and people who are new to the band something to get excited about.  It is a good song that shows they are not just Sabbath worshipers.  “High Country” is the next song is another song which is unashamedly retro to the point of actually taking the style back into fashion.   The big riffs and hooks are all here for everyone to hear, it is one of those bass driven numbers where the deep string beast is controlling the number with the drummer as the guitars are allowed to go on flights of fancy when needed.  The old school feeling of this song does not feel dated at all, just updated and that is important.  “Tears Like Diamonds” is a bit of a teaser, the song is a good song which sounds as if it is going to explode after the chorus section of the song and each time it does not quite reach that peak of expectation from what is one of the sweetest classic rock riffs that I have heard for an awfully long time; when it does finally erupt, it is a still good and they nail that riff to a mast like a flag as they head into the sun – but it does keep you wanting more, showing there is more to give; honestly, I felt like a teenager once again and it was very frustrating.  Fifth track “Mist & Shadow” starts with clear guitars and a sound like a clear still night near a forest (as if insects and creatures are moving around close to you), on cue the riff and band come forth from the speakers as if nothing had chased in the last forty years and when a riff sounds this colossus then I have no problem with that; this is what classic rock should be – loud, an escape and OTT.  It should be larger than life and in its own little word and this song is a planet all on its own with drums of thunder, bass lines like earthquakes, riffs from guitars like beasts roaring and vocals to guide the listener – majestic.

“Agartha” is all keyboards, drums, feedback and low bass to begin with; it sounds like the start of a sci-fi film where the body snatchers are taking over and we are all (for want of a better word) fucked.  It is over too soon and much like “Unicorn Farm” it could have been expanded, but it is an interesting instrumental gives way to “Seriously Mysterious” which has some of the funkiest bass effects I have hear outside of a Sly Stone album.  A tale advising to stay away from gypsies and wondering if the wise man or the fool should rule, it also mentions God sending his son to save us and I am wondering if The Sword have become Mormons since their last record?  Musically brilliant, lyrically as preachy as Ghost and their Satanic sermons.  “Suffer No Fools” is fast paced classic rock, it is a serious driving song with massive riffs and hooks for all rock fans to enjoy at the beginning and it shows that riffs do not need to be a million miles an hour to be fast (i.e. – Dragon Force can afford to leave a note or two out of their next album).  Another instrumental track, it also shows that the band can keep their mouth shut when the song dictates it and let the riffs do the talking for itself.  As the recorded cheers (cheesy, very cheesy) fade out for “Suffer No Fools” the band start the serious sounding “Early Snow”, a cautionary tale of an early onset of winter.  It is another really good song on this record, but not remarkable to be honest. “The Dreamtheives” is the next song and it is very light to be honest, firmly in the classic rock part of their musical pallet and what one of my friends would call dull and I am inclined to agree here.  It is played well, it does not offend the ear; but even with a solid solo and inoffensive sound, it does not stick in your brain and when it has stopped I am at a lost to remember what it sounds like.

"Buzzards" is much better, by deity it is an improvement on "The Dreamtheives".  It instantly connects, sounds like a towering inferno of sound and noise, makes the album come back to life.  It makes you wonder what this record could have been, but I will get back to that in a bit - long story short, it is a storming track.  "Silver Petals" is the next song and it is another instrumental song, but mostly on the acoustic guitar.  It is very pretty and once more you cannot accuse the band of not being able to perform well; but it does not feel essential and in a fifteen track album it is a bit lost.  "Ghost Eye" is the next song and the power rock is back once more and once again it showcases the strength of the band at this point in time.  They have just went all out on this song and created a song that is timeless in nature and if it was not for "Mist & Shadow" then this would have been the song of the album.  It is an adrenaline infused number that takes the listener on a journey into the Black Sabbath classic era sound, basically doing what the Satanic band Ghost have been doing for the last three albums - a brilliant number.  The penultimate song on this record is called "Turned to Dust" which starts with a mournful & lonesome guitar tone, it slows everything down to a crawl as the human condition is pondered.  Beautiful crafted, it does not fall into the pit falls of making everything heavy after such a fragile beginning.  The only grip I would have with this is that it ends too suddenly, it could have been played out a little longer but that is a personal thing.  "The Bees of Spring" is the ending song of the album and it does not exactly explode out of the blocks.  Another classic rock anthem that has just been discovered, you really cannot fault the quality of the music itself; but ending an album with this song?  It is not an album ending song, it is a good song - but I question the decision to end the album with this number.

This album is only fifty minutes long, but it feels about two or three number over its natural limit.  It is an improvement on their earlier work for me and going for that classic rock sound with an ease that suggests maybe it was always the way that they were going to head, it just feels like the right sound for this band.  After the last album I heard I was not really looking forward to this, as I have not only been impressed by their playing, but that I have wanted to hear some of the album again as there is some cracking tunes in the mix; so for me that is an improvement straight away.  The ordering is not perfect, it sort of limps to the end (as well played as "Turned To Dust" and "The Bees of Spring" are played - it ends on a lull when it could have been a high if those tunes were mixed up differently.  Also, as I have noted earlier it could have been trimmed down to eleven or twelve track and still have achieved the same result.  But that is just the opinion of a man who was not involved in the process, so what would I know.  Last time I said they were too backwards and that the retro vibe did not work in their favour; here they have made it work and they have thrived on this album.  They are still telling Father Time to fuck off, but it is a 100% improvement to the last time I heard them.  Either way you look at this, it is a much better album than "Warp Riders" for me and I hope they continue on this form as it sounds as if they have found the right formula for them.

7.5 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track – Mist & Shadow

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Sword website here

You can follow the activities of The Sword on Facebook here

You can stream the album on Spotify here

You can stream the album on Deezer here

You can stream the album on Tidal here

Past sermons

Greatest hits