Review Summary: Pop meets Martial Industrial (?!)
Derniere Volonte is a moniker used by French musician Geoffrey D. The group is closely related to martial acts like Der Blutharsch, and also has had it's fair share of neo-fascist accusations due to allusions to WWII, Nazi propaganda, and other sensitive subjects on the early releases. I myself would like to say that I don't believe this man is fascist in the slightest, a martial act will always have something related to WWII in its material at some point and fascism was a major part of WWII. That being said this album has nothing to due with wars or anything of the sort.
With Les Blessure's De l'Ombre Derniere Volonte began to depart from it's traditionally repetitive marches and dark ambient atmospheres. A more structural and "riff" based approach was taken, and this approach is continued here. This album blends two very unlikely genres, namely the realms of martial music and pop. The pop elements will be explained shortly. The martial elements are still there but are mainly now manifested in instrument choice, simplistic drum rhythms, and the epic nature of several of the songs.
The pop side of the album is easy to see. The songs follow very typical verse chorus structures, and unlike most martial acts, that rely mostly on samples to tell stories, almost every song on this CD has clean sung vocals that dominate the songs in the mix. The good news is the vocals are very fitting, they don't have much range and are pretty monotonous, but in a way that makes the themes of sorrow and melancholy easy to connect with. There are also lighter sides to the CD though, such as Douce Hirondelle, a very catchy song that has a very cheerful and optimistic sound to it.
The instrumentation is simple and effective. Most songs employ very basic rhythmic drums with a very distorted snare sound similar to almost any other industrial act. There is little use of toms, with snare/bass drum/hi hat making up 90% of drum lines and giving a rhythmic drive to the music. The rest of the music is keyboard based. Chords usually lie under the melody line and give a nice feel of direction. The melodies themselves are slow to mid-paced in tempo, and often are simply moving stepwise. They are very effective however, and it is fair to say that the simplicity of the music is a very large strength. The songs are memorable and easy to hum along to, and the melodies set to the vocals give a nice mixture of melody and timbre that creates the exact atmosphere that the album sets out to achieve (namely making the listener reflect on themselves, hence the album name "Before the Mirror"
Overall I would recommend this effort to a wide variety of musical enthusiasts. I can see Shoe-gaze fans finding something to enjoy here, along with martial/industrial/ambient fans. Fans of Summoning should also check this band out, it is the biggest influence on their newest works and you can hear it at the base of the melodies. So generally speaking this album is worth a listen no matter what type of music you are into, it is diverse enough to be engaging to almost everyone. Probably tied with Oath Bound as my pick for favorite album of 2006.