02. These Nights Were Ours
04. Neige De Mars
[Prophecy Productions | 06/14/2010]
Mixing the aesthetics of black metal with shoegaze and post-rock to create atmospheric, melodic, and introspective music, post-black metal (also sometimes referred to as blackgaze in the right context) is one of the more interesting genres to recently hit a peak in the last decade. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in my newfound love-affair with post-black metal is that Neige is a big player in the fringe genre; Amesoeurs, Alcest, and Lantlôs all feature Neige in some form.
While Neige’s role was not as integral in the creation of Lantlôs’ Neon as he was this year’s highlight in Alcest’s Écailles de Lune (where he played every instrument sans drums), he provides vocal duties in both melancholic singing and tortured screams. Neige is a very capable vocalist for the genre and compliments the album’s attempt of capturing a dark and brooding, yet optimistic tone that songwriter and primary instrumentalist Markus “Herbst” Siegenhort had achieved to moderate success.
Neon stands apart from other albums in the genre due in part to the jazz influence, taking facetime on the mellower tracks like “Minusmensch” and “Pulse/Surreal” where the elusive basslines come in to play. In the genre of black metal as a whole, bass is a mere backing track. This is not the case for a good portion of Neon, where the bass is clearly audible and standing apart from the guitar, at times even becoming the center of attention. Herbst treated bass as more than just a formality and gave the instrument a brief glimmer of life. These songs featuring more laid back jazz grooves are much more memorable because of this, despite being a bit repetitive and simplistic at times.
While Neon does approach moments of brilliance, the album feels a bit slow in its downtime and rushed where there should be space for climax. The balance between beautifully melodic and harsh cathartic release is nice, but sometimes the transitions between the two are a bit abrupt and don’t allow for breathing room. Often times, songs don’t build up enough momentum to carry the listener through the dynamics as much as they would like to. There are brief moments of exhilaration, as in “Coma” and “Pulse/Surreal,” but things just seem a bit lacking overall in being memorable.
Sonically though, the album does everything right. The guitar tone carries enough delay and reverb on the tremolo picking lines to create a nice atmosphere, even when the songs pick up the pace. The mixing is commendable, with the bass being audible under several layers of fuzzy guitar, vocals, and blasting drums. You couldn’t ask for better production quality from something out of this corner of black metal; I absolutely love this way the record sounds.
Even still, Neon seems to be missing something. While certainly interesting and sonically excellent, Neon‘s wow factors lie too few and far between. This could very well stem from my general inexperience with most things blackened and could be chalked up to my own personal taste, but Neon stops just short of great. Nonetheless, it’s a solid effort that is most definitely worth a listen.
Lantlôs – Neon gets…