From the admirable Les Acteurs de l’Ombre label come the band Mur. This is the band’s second album. It is described as “an album with a hardcore organic atmosphere tinted with rough and dynamic post-black metal”.

The opener and evocatively titled “Sound of a Dead Skin” plays with our senses. Dark electro forms the backdrop to an apocalyptic but energetic piece of post hardcore. I’ve never been to a Mur concert but this would be the perfect opener to wake up an unsuspecting audience. The heavily chorded roarathon continues with “I Am The Forest”. Cult of Luna like in both vocals and atmosphere, the world that is depicted is one of smouldering chaos. The world rumbles before turning to reflection. In my mind there was nothing around us. Its replacement is “Nenuphar”, an extremely dark experimental piece. Brutalism, indeed. While the vocalist roars despairingly, behind the dominant heavy chords and sonic wall, the keyboardist creates the sounds of fear and horror. This is the prelude to the gloomy and symphonic “Die Kinder Tanzen um das Feuer desjenigen der das Licht Bringt” (the children dance around the fire of the one who brings light). Not sure why the track title is in German when the band’s French and it’s almost longer than the track itself but it’s apt for the overall theme and ambience.

“Third” is like a distorted explosion of violent suffering. Atmosphere is there but it’s overshadowed by weight as the sun might struggle to penetrate clouds. Not that there’s any sun here. The electronic keyboards once again add the drama. “My Ionic Self” perpetuates this with a reinforcement of electronic sound distortions. The deep and heavy assault goes on. The mood is always black. The sound is industrial. The interest for me lay in the ever-darkening twists, and in particular those shadowy keyboards. For me they bring otherwise aimless tracks to life. There is an all too brief build up at the end of “You Make I Real” as I felt the album was running out of steam. The outro “BWV721” whistles away into the wind but like the latter half of this album, the atmosphere is there but not electric.

What I heard was a series of experimentations in dark sound. The impression I had was that with each piece the band decided to try something different. That’s good but I lost any sense of entity because of it. I’m not sure it would have been any different if I’d pressed the “random” button and played these 11 pieces in a different order. In fact it might have been better to do that, as the best parts for me were in the first half, leading me to the conclusion that this 40 odd minute album would have been more effective if it were shorter. Although I lost any sense of a developing whole and I thought the intensity wasn’t sustained, “Brutalism” deserves credit for its creativity and sporadic interest.

(6/10 Andrew Doherty)