A kaleidoscopic soundtrack for the modern era; these are the words in the liner notes on the page opposite the band lineup (which, since the flawless Ruines Humaines EP, has expanded to contain secondary guitarist Fursy and drummer Winterhalter). A more apt description of the album as a whole I cannot conjure. Those familiar with Ruines Humaines will be familiar, though will not necessarily know what to expect, with Amesoeurs's first and apparently only full-length release.
Opener "Gas in Veins," easily the best instrumental starter track since Sentenced's "Kaamos," begins with a commanding bass line, expands into an epic, melancholic rock tune, and eventually explodes into spine-tingling post-black metal riffage. "Les Ruches Malades (The Sick Hives)," being the first song proper (and also heretofore only available on a split LP with Valfunde), piques interest and sparks amazement, as female vocalist Audrey's innocent, beautiful singing takes the foreground. Her rich, textured melodies are incredibly striking; the fact that all vocals are in French really add an exotic, comfortable vibe. As opposed to only a third of the Ruines Humaines material being fronted by Audrey (the mindblowing "Fiablesse Des Sens"), she gets to take the center stage on Amesoeurs, performing on six tracks, making instant classics not only of "Les Ruches Malades," but also of the awesome "Faux Semblants (Pretences)" and "Amesoeurs." It's only on four songs, "Recueillement (Meditation)," "Trouble - Eveils Infames (Disturbs - Infamous Awakenings)," and the phenomenal "Au Crepuscule de Nos Reves (In the Twilight of Our Dreams)," along with half of "La Reine Trayeuse (The Queen Milking Machine)," that Neige, mastermind of Amesoeurs and main songwriter/instrumentalist, lends his high-pitched scorching screams. This is exactly the path I was hoping Amesoeurs would take, vocally unbalanced as compared to Ruines Humaines, but switching back and forth between calm and calamity.
All the instrumentation on Amesoeurs is flawless; Neige's emotive and powerful guitar leads seamlessely meld the blissful black metal creations of Alcest (his black metal / shoegaze alterego) with elements of pop, post-rock, and new-wave, most notably The Cure and Depeche Mode. The bass, now handled by Neige also, is wonderfully alive and bubbly, an entity in and of itself, and a fantastic addition to the sound of the guitar melodies. Drumming is incredibly precise, and at the perfect pitch and treble for the material at hand, lending to both the sweeping black metal pieces and the pop sensibilities of the others. Niege and crew also experiment a little, clearly not satisfied with one layer of influence, interrupting Amesoeurs's middle with "I XIII V XIX XV V XXI XVII XIX - IX XIX - IV V I IV," a haunting track of lamenting piano within a deep cavernous echo, and ending the album with several minutes of a techno/industrial beat that could've come from Nine Inch Nails.
Anyone who misses this record will be missing out on one of the best musical creations of this decade. It is truly a crushing shame that this appears to be the last creation by Amesoeurs, though I for one will eternally hope that Neige's Alcest begins leaning once again towards their black metal roots, and that Audrey is invited to do some guest vocals. Until then, Amesoeurs will be one of my desert-island CDs and will undoubtedly remain so for a very long time.