I first came across this pretty unclassifiable French band with their 2015 album ‘This Is Not Supposed To Be Positive’. As this titles translates to something like ‘Sad Suburb’ you can tell their mood or preoccupations haven’t improved much over three years.
After a quiet, and intensely downbeat introduction of dark, slow, reverberating notes, a gloomy riff falls upon us with ‘Naive’. Immediately I am struck by the high, desperate and soulful vocals. They echo and cry as the guitars wraparound them like a homeless person tugging at a thin blanket. There is something so lost in their sound, hopeless but needing to be heard. Raw emotion but a beautiful production. Next up is ‘Sleep Juice’. The riff almost goes into the doom territory before the guitar lightens in tone if not mood into something more akin to Marillion circa the miserable worlds of Clutching At Straws. The riff bites down again and already the rich character of this band shines through.
They have a sound that slips and flows from Mirror Of Deception style doom through twists of early Marillion, Katatonia pre Viva Emptiness and gloom rock bastards Jack Frost. There is the bleak gaze of early Sisters Of Mercy too, that rain dripping on concrete emptiness. They have a strange, restless character like insomnia at three in the morning and bedsits lost somewhere in the towers of a slowly grinding city. The melodies they conjure will tear at your spirit and those strong but plaintive vocals will rip out what’s left of your heart.
‘Touch The Razor’ is the kind of song that Katatonia stopped writing after Viva Emptiness, something that sounds too real to be borne alone. There is delicacy in the drums and the soft bass, a strength in the guitars that seems to bleed out through the eleven minute length before a final rally that turns out to be a simple death rattle. The instrumental ‘Tara’ is the closest to the Sisters here, a midnight walk to nowhere and hauntingly beautiful. ‘Hangman’s Chair’ a grim self observation.
It all collapses down towards the closing ‘Full Ashtray’, the most doom of tracks here for me, another epic album not short of lengthy songs. But strangely you rarely notice the time passing.
Goth, doom, depressive, gloom. No there is precious little light here. This is a crepuscular world of greys and blacks, of oily rain and badly cut drugs washed down with cheap nasty whisky. It burns all the way down. This is not music to indulge in lightly, nor far worse approach in the company of your own demons. But it can speak to you and let you know you are not alone in what you feel. It has that real, tangible feeling of honesty and experience. Perhaps it can be cathartic too. The melodies and the hooks creep under your skin and keep a hold of you.
Another masterful glimpse of the darkness within.