French Cinematographic metal? I feel like I should be wearing a black polo neck and smoking a Gitanes. This quartet hail from Montpellier not the back streets of Paris and have been crafting their blend of prog, extreme metal and soundtrack like compositions for 14 years. A Distant Dark Source is their fifth full length album following the acoustic soundtrack “Alba – Les Ombres Errantes“ which surfaced last year.
This album sees Hypno5e plugged in again and firing on all cylinders. There are hints of Opeth, Alcest and Porcupine Tree here alongside snippets of Hypocrisy as well. Released as a 4 disc vinyl record, the album is laid out in movements creating the complete story which takes place on one night, beginning with the epic and bombastic “On the Dry Lake” which contains some stomping metalcore rhythms amidst it’s sliding strings and snippets of French cinematic dialogue.
The next movement is In the Blue Glow of Dawn which is in three parts. Part I a gentle string led melancholic piece with a lilting vocal whilst part II thunders in with a double kick drum and staccato metallic riffs, the soft singing replaced by urgent rasps. Part III is ushered in by a clip which paves the way for a slightly insipid progressive lament.
The next three parter is the title track, the initial phase of which begins with an 80’s sounding clean guitar line and synth brass. Lie a mix of Highlander and Bladerunner segueing into the second part which is a slab of proggy death (or deathy prog) . The rasped vocals are harmonised by clean ones which creates a sound that is pleasing to these ears. Part three is drum led and definitely one for the progsters even with its Korn like guitar sounds.
Movement 4 “On Our Bed of Soil” continues the mix of soundscapes with metallic attack that its predecessors employed. The chops and changes of style add drama and certainly evoke a sense of story-telling and cinema but begin to feel a little formulaic by the end.
By the time final track Tauca Part II (Nowhere) has ended with pained screams, distant radio rants and plinky piano I am reminded of my times at Polytechnic when I tried hard to be bohemian and get into Kafka and Milan Kundera in an attempt to impress my then girlfriend. I know it’s good. I know its great art but it’s not for me. Lovers of French New Wave cinema and modern Prog – fill ya boots.
(6.5/10 Matt Mason)