FMRA heavy, dark and ethereal atmosphere is promised. “Make Your Own” is the second album release by this French extreme and post death metal band. The production is by Dan Swanö. The result is a powerful and lively combination, full of twists and something which is very darkly progressive.

We’re led into “Hell” and it would seem there’s no way out. “Hell” is the title of the opening track. It’s interesting. Walls of sound and deathly roars are the staple diet of this album but equally melodic twists and layers of subtlety take us into those shadowy worlds. Maybe there are too many conflicting layers, as if the make-up has been plastered on too liberally. But extremity is at the core and “Way” hammers down hard. There’s a kind of black metal element to the discordance. But “Way” is above all marching, imperious and all round heavy. I strongly smell Hypocrisy in this. Orchestral strains arise out of it. “Hole” then makes the atmosphere darker and crunchier. It slows down but not in conventional fashion. The guitars and vocals sound warped, bringing a scary element into it. The guitar lines and drum work are always interesting. The next track is called “Sky”. A warped and orchestral piece, it sounds as if it’s coming from the inside of someone’s head. The mixture is strange. It’s woozy and nightmarish yet deadened. It just ends mid-nightmare.

The wooziness is overcome by the ubiquitous heaviness. The constant sound of “Colors” is like a mechanical process, rather like the functional track titles themselves. In spite of the ferocity, epic heights are reached. But before long, we’re on the receiving end of a thunderous battery. It’s as if sounds are bouncing off walls. There’s persistence in this darkened metal. Experimental techno finishes off this track and leads us into “Truth”. This is like a slow cooker. It’s all there. It’s monstrously dark. Progress is made however. There’s a definite edge. It’s not so gripping as adhesive and, once again, persistent. The problem here is that it’s from the same pitch. There’s such a wall of sound. “Truth” is gothic in its way. There’s a plaintive voice but it’s all shrouded in blackness. Psychedelic tones can then be heard like the start of a track by The Gathering. The pace quickens up, and twisting metal comes out as something akin to folk metal with strange voices. Yes, it’s strange but “Silence” has energy. The harshness reminded me of Prostitute Disfigurement, yet this couldn’t be further from the fuzzy psychedelia, and the stuttering and eccentric fashion it which it ends. The bells toll. It is “Funeral” time. But this didn’t remind me of a funeral. It’s more an experiment in mood. There’s the intriguing suggestion of a Chinese instrument as the track builds up. A thunderous wall is created. The atmosphere is created. In the death metal, a mysterious but beautiful voice appears. It is that of Anneke van Giersbergen formerly of The Gathering and now associated with the Devin Townsend Project. Her tones are typically sultry. For a rare moment the mood is quiet. The album ends on a quiet and calm note which is out of keeping with the roaring lion which had preceded it.

“Dig out your fears. Dive into yourself”, we’re told. Without doubt this album goes deeper than the surface, and ventures into experimental and progressive metal which challenges the mind. I didn’t really know what to make of “Make Your Own”. It’s two years since the prolific melodic metal producer Jacob Hansen was behind the band’s debut album “Time to Play”. I’ve not heard it but that sounds intriguing. This time it was the turn of Dan Swanö. Between this renowned metal producer and the evidently dark proclivities of the band, I felt in the end there was too much in the mix. As a result “Make Your Own” was for me over-the-top and inexplicably experimental so although interesting, it was not fully co-ordinated as a concept, and lost me somewhere along the way.

 (6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)