Through its furiously melodic stampedes, impassioned yet fragile vocals and atmospheric weight, Au Champ Des Morts‘ Dans La Joie crafts a 50-minute work of unwavering melancholy.
Born out of the ashes of French symphonic black metallers Anorexia Nervosa, Au Champ Des Morts begins life on the right foot with this full-length debut. Dans La Joie‘s heart beats with the rawness of traditional black metal, but its exterior is built of an amalgam of blackgaze, cold wave and post-black metal. It is just raw enough to stay true to the genre’s roots, but just polished enough to allow its frostbitten atmosphere to shine. Dans La Joie possesses a sound that is undoubtedly familiar, but is full of melodic grace and feral fury.
The marriage, and often struggle, between blistering black metal and lush soundscapes comprises the bulk of this LP. Tracks like opening cut “Nos Decombres” begins with an icy, tremolo-picked intro before launching into a procession of triumphant, yet fragile chord progressions. After a brief break of reverberating chords, the song explodes into an onslaught on blast beats and grief-stricken black metal, bringing a much needed burst of auditory fire in an otherwise sonic snowstorm.
Longer tracks like “Apres Le Carnage” and the title track capitalize on post-rock’s penchant for tension-and-release, while progressing the band’s brand of melodic black metal further. The compositions build from subdued, clean guitar melodies enveloped in layers of shoegaze-esque sound, to storms of aggressive instrumentation armed to the teeth with passion and somberness, and vice versa. These tracks will often break into ambient splendor or virtuosic and expressive solo work at a moment’s notice. All the while, guitarist Stéphane Bayle and bassist Cécile G trade throat-searing screams, anguished wails and haunting spoken-word prose throughout.
Other standout moments include the album’s closing track, “La Fin Du Monde”. The track trades in black metal for four minutes of echoing soundscapes, simplistic yet heart-wrenching guitar melodies and a thick wall of hollow atmosphere. Cécile G’s commanding, almost operatic vocals soar and illuminate this dark, sonic blizzard of a track, making it one of the album’s most memorable cuts.
While the band’s sound is indeed endearing, there are definitely some repetitive moments scattered throughout, causing a bit of drag here and there. But overall, Dans La Joie is a solid full-length debut. While the elitists religiously stick to the genre’s core sound, and the modern practitioners dabble in shoegaze and other alternative genres, Au Champ Des Morts strikes a decent balance between the traditional and the new wave of black metal. As long as they continue to experiment and progress, and not stagnate, they may be poised to be the genre’s next frontrunners.
Release Date: January 27, 2017
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Favorite Tracks: “Apres Le Carnage”, “Le Sang, La Mort, La Chute”, “Dans La Joie” and “La Fin Due Monde”
For Fans of: Anorexia Nervosa, Wolves in the Throne Room and Alcest