abduction“Autumnal black metal” is the designation given to this work by French band Abduction. I guess that means the array of colours, shorter days turning into longer nights, wind, storms and the spirit of the album’s title which translates as “A Shadow Rules the Shadows”.

It’s all laid out on the table on the thirteen minute “Naphtalia”. Furious and uncompromising black metal is interrupted by haunting paganism and by delicate, melancholic passages which have an air of Novembre – the Italian band, and to a lesser degree the month as well – about them. Individually these passages have great atmospheres and merit but the changes are so extreme that they’re not transformations and for me there was no continuity between them. This is clearly how it works because “Sainte Chimère”, another thirteen minute epic, is structured in exactly the same way. Recalling other French bands like Himinbjorg and Nydvind, and on an international scale Opeth, Novembre, Primordial and April Ethereal, this switching between harsh metal, pagan scenes and melancholic passages is clearly accepted practice but here it’s extreme. So “Sainte Chimère” thunders on fierily, then melancholically. Whilst not necessarily appreciating the structure, I greatly appreciated the sensitivity of the delicate passages, which have the softness of falling leaves fluttering to the ground. And then the violent crashing of drums and desperate cries shatters the dream world. “Les Frissons des Cimes” alternates between violent metal and a series of dark, epic and shimmering passages. The lyrics speak of bloodied standards, enclosure in a tower silence, eternal ascension, forgiving without forgetting and the sound of defeat. The music does justice to the majesty without threatening to hang together. The title track is like a dark story being told. I couldn’t read the lyrics for this one because of their artistic representation in the sleeve notes, not because they are in French. Again Opeth- and Novembre-like acoustic moments break up the fury as the mod swings from one extreme to another. The nine minute “L’Enlèvement d”Automne” (The Removal of Autumn) ends the album. To start, there is a beautifully balanced musical piece. Fire and thunder break the hypnotic reflection, which was a pity. It all leads into a valiant reconciliation or maybe defiance – again I couldn’t decipher the lyrics, which are on a dark background. “L’Enlèvement d’Automne” ends in the delicate tones with which it began, leaving a sense of calm after an album of much turmoil and many storms.

Abduction’s approach to this album is clearly deliberate as the approach to each track, which I personally found disjointed, has similar characteristics. Inside “Une Ombre Régit les Ombres” are many epic, tragic and reflective moments which are well represented by a wide range of musical scenarios and atmospheres.

(7/10 Andrew Doherty)