It’s so odd how we all have this one vision of what black metal is. We all kind of have an image of corpse paint, dissonant guitars, and nearly unintelligible vocals culminating in the sound of what most describe as pure metallic evil. In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion in the variety of sounds from black metal bands. They’ve begun incorporating elements of shoegaze and atmospheric sounds to create what can be described more as musical environments meant to wrap you up and really feel the music. Unreqvited takes that approach with their latest, Mosaic I: L’amour et l’ardeur.
Canada’s Unreqvited have a very post-rock approach to their black metal. Their songs feel more like classically-written Baroque pieces. You’ll find very little rote repetition here. No familiar intro-verse-chorus-verse structure here. The music moves in a very introspective way through the song. Every note is carefully placed. Every crescendo thoughtfully built. Instruments are mixed in a way that makes them all combine into a single voice that helps carry and change emotions throughout the songs and the album itself.
The band describes their music as depressive black metal, though the depression ebbs and flows. In a lot of ways, Unreqvited’s latest album sounds hopeful. There are instances of building positivity in their music though the feeling isn’t entirely culminated. Where the depression lies is in the lack of climax that leads the listener to feel almost satisfied but not quite. It leads you to feeling a sense of loss and longing.
Take the intro track “Sunrise”. It begins with the atmospheric sounds of nature accompanied by a slowly building synth swirl eventually leading to the slow playing of chords inside a piano melody. More synth swirls are then accompanied by very positive melodic strings. The build up continues to crescendo with further additions of blasting, wall of sound guitars with splashing and crashing drums. And while this all feels like it’s building to something big, it pretty suddenly falls off with a quiet chiming guitar plucking some arpeggios that slowly fade back into the atmosphere. It’s this sudden drop off and quiet end to the song that leads to your sense of loss. “Hey, where did that music go? It was just here.”
The album continues into the next track, “Dreamscape”, where the depressive nature of the band is really on display. It takes the sense of longing at the end of “Sunrise” and decides to build an entire song around that. The track isn’t on its own particularly sad sounding or overtly depressing, but the music in the song nonetheless feels as though something’s not quite right. Imagine a scene where your protagonist is about to meet their end, say by a gun shot or a sword. All of a sudden, you hear the shot or the slicing of a sword but the hero appear unarmed. The hero looks up only to be shocked by the image of their lover blocking the attack with their body and crumpling to the ground. Such is the sense you get from listening to this album.
I really love albums like this. They are so much more than just a collection of songs. You can’t separate an impressionist painting. Why should a black metal record be any different? If you translate the title into English, you get “love and passion”. That’s very descriptive of this sound. Love makes you feel, and passion makes that feeling stronger. There are a whole lot of feelings on this record, and there’s a drive behind all of it that just makes them all stronger. You really have to listen to understand it. It’s well worth your time to sit down with some good headphones and feel the music.
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Mosaic I: L’amour et l’ardeur is out now and available for purchase on Bandcamp.