Eibon’s last album ‘Entering Darkness’ really lived up to its name. The French band delivered a stark, sludgy, doom-etched morass of war hewn grimness that was monochromatic right down to its chilling artwork. The first thing I noticed about the follow up was just how colourful the cover was in contrast. It’s equally as grim and the subject matter is equally entrenched with the grimy horrors of war but ‘Triptychon Der Krieg’ by Otto Dix is a fantastically striking statement to put on your album; can the music come close to matching it?
The band have somewhat changed their game plan with this album, obviously wanting to move slightly away from their previous album rather than simply repeat it. This has been partly done by just having two fairly lengthy tracks this time around. Distorted sounds bring the first of these ‘The Voice Settlers’ into life before it moves into a beefy leaden groove. Vocals are not far away and singer Georges Balafas has a raw and throaty rasp about his delivery. It’s the hooks that win over here though, they are mighty and bounce around giving no respite and forcing you to wreck your neck to them. This would be a killer track live if the audience can keep going for its 19 minute running time. Despite a slowed down section this has a lot of life in it and some of the riffs would even give the likes of Mastodon a run for their money, along with the likes of Conan and Pombagira perhaps. A sinister sounding sample is added and with the drums slowly pounding, it’s like being thrown into a stygian black mass and incredibly atmospheric. However you know that the songs previous central heavy melodic roughshod riffing is far too good to ignore and sure enough it comes lolloping back in allowing you to breathe a sigh of relief as it releases from the claustrophobic crush of the tomb like incarceration going on here. Not only do they repeat it things speed up and even at times enter psychedelic territories as the rasps build and the song builds to an almost imploding conclusion. It’s an impressive and mighty track that’s for sure; the only problem the band have set themselves up with is actually following it!
This job is left to ‘Elements Of Doom’ which kind of dispenses with any upbeat flavours and brings back more of the despondent style that we are used to. A droning start and a clank of steel on rock sets up a lone maudlin guitar chord; nothing is happening particularly quickly here. Suddenly though a roar is unleashed and the full instrumental might literally drops in. Things are rough and raw and there is a turgid choppy feel about it. Vocals are bellicose and angry and the drums pound with clattering cymbal strikes. Heavy enough to make you feel encased by concrete and with an underlying melody about it there is quite a lot going on here from some slewing, nails down blackboard guitar grates to a dark sample as the band seem to effortlessly jam away letting the track do as it wants and groove all over the place. It turns distinctly moribund and reflective before suddenly raging back in with an almost unhinged lunacy about it. The word ‘Darkness” appears to be rasped out and that is very much the place we are in again and it is left for the sounds of rain falling as the track slowly ebbs out to accompany our misery.
II is quite a brave move having just the two tracks that I found contrasting each other and it’s not an album for short attention spans. Having said that I did find it more immediate and quick to sink in than its predecessor and really enjoyed it. I would certainly like to see the band make a trip over here and play live too but whilst I await that I reckon this will be getting a few more spins.
(8/10 Pete Woods)