Blackened hardcore is having a bit of a resurgence (or is it just the original surge?) these days. Bands like Respire and Montaigne have released great albums in 2020 in the style, showing us that the combination between the abrasiveness of black metal and the emotional impact of hardcore holds a lot of fruitful ideas and music. Deluge is another such a band, with their Ægo Templo representing the height of their career which began in 2014. Simply put, this album is one of the blackened hardcore albums in the genre’s young-ish existence. It’s a perfect testimony to its power and a masterclass in how to successfully execute the genre’s tropes.
Unsurprisingly for a genre essentially born out of a combination of two larger genres, balance and contrast are the by-words by light of which Deluge operate. Ægo Templo, from the first track to the last, is an expert study in how to pull that sort of balance off. Just listen to the opening track, “Soufre”. The first instrumental passage that hits right after the intro, is almost entirely hardcore; the heavy hitting, melodic guitars, the large drums, and the clean vocals that briefly grace the instruments all belong firmly to the more melodic camps of that genre. But as the track evolves, the harsh vocals and the guitars take on a noticeable black metal shift, especially once the clean bridge (already held in place by acoustic guitars reminiscent of black metal) ends and the blast-beats make themselves known.
From there, black metal composition holds sway, highlighting the cold and abrasive aspect of the vocals. This holds until the hardcore trappings from the beginning of the track return, tying a bow around the track’s structure and evolution. This is the basic structure that informs the entire album but Deluge do so much with it; by experimenting with the tension between these two aspects, rather than by turning to complex, progressive song structures and influences, Deluge create a powerful core on the album (get it?) This is what allows them to maintain cohesion on the release; how do you otherwise square away tracks like “Opprobre”, with its melancholy atmosphere and the evocative grandeur of tracks like “Baïne”?
And that’s where the secret of blackened hardcore lies: the genres aren’t really all of that different and, if you know how to do it, basically approach many questions from the same perspective. That perspective is one of emotional excess and its acceptance, tapping into parts of our psyche that we might otherwise shy away from. Deluge, like any good band operating in this sub-genre, pull Ægo Templo off by focusing on this shared emotional and musical overlap between hardcore and black metal, however faint it might seem. By sticking to the guns of the two genres which inform them and creating a back and forth relationship between them, Deluge are able to stress these similarities, creating a cohesive, and damn effective, album from those overlaps. This means that, when you listen to it enough, the album stops being about hardcore or black metal or even the two genres melding together but rather becomes about Deluge and their own unique sound.
Ægo Templo was released on November 6th. You can head on over to the band’s Bandcamp page above to buy it.