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Formed by Neige and vocalist Audrey Sylvain in 2004, Amesoeurs' desolate, suffocating vision brims with negativity and despair. Those familiar with Neige's pedigree (Peste Noire, Mortifera, etc.) will recognize elements of harsh, melancholic Black Metal; the band also draws from elements of Post-Punk and '80s New Wave such as Joy Division, early Cure, and Depeche Mode. Here, Neige is backed by a band that includes the award-winning French filmmaker Fursy Teyssier of Les Discrets.
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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.
I'd say the style overall combines black metal, post-rock, and post-punk. The guitars can be light and airy, and very melodic, reminiscent of certain Cure albums, usually alternating between more a distorted sound. In fact, all instruments are very clear, crisp, and well-defined - the production here is top-notch. Neige's wonderful black metal screams are spotted here and there, but the female vocals (sung exclusively in French) are the forefront. I love the addition of female vocals to this style. They are not powerful or ranged by any means; but more of a lethargic, depressive post-punk style, which fits perfectly I might add.
The last song, "Au Crépuscule de Nos Rêves" is probably my favorite. It is one of the only three songs with harsh vocals, but also breaks down into some really gorgeous instrumental parts. It seems like the most sincere and emotional song here and a great end to the album.
This album really is a challenging one to recommend to a particular audience because it has so many differing sides. Obviously, the closest would be fans of Neige's other projects, but not everyone necessarily likes this too. It is probably too soft for fans of more "true" black metal, and fans of more classic post-punk such as The Cure, Joy Division, etc. might have a hard time with the black metal vocals. People may have an issue with the clean vocal style or even the language it's sung in. All I can say is one with an open mind will be rewarded.
recommend to any rock fan
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