Review Summary: grim
Sombres Forets, who hail from the grim and dire depths of Canada, play atmospheric/suicidal black metal. Yes, that sounds completely awful. But, despite discouraging first impressions, this one-man-band, led by the mysterious and probably acne-ridden Annatar, is completely excellent. It’s an anomaly, it seems almost unreal, but one listen to this project’s newest, titled Royaume de Glace
, will silence even the most elite of skeptics. It’s that good.
Opening with a throwaway ambient piece, Royaume de Glace
picks up momentum with “The Forest”, taking walls of massive distortion and Annatar’s ghastly screams and adding flourishes such as acoustic breaks and strings. Annatar, using the same intelligence that enabled him to use the moniker ‘Annatar’, doesn’t overwhelm or overgay the listener with these flourishes, using these very sparsely and only to spice up what would otherwise be reasonably normal. Most of Royaume de Glace
continues in such a fashion, including the slow-burning synths and acoustic riffs that accompany walls of fast-picked feedback in “Cold Forgotten Earth” and in others.
Annatar’s imaginative songwriting also helps Royaume de Glace
differentiate from the pack. Songs like “L’oeil Nocturne” swell with vigor, utilizing dynamics and breaks of silence, all before gathering again and entering back into the fray. “Solstice” finds Annatar finding all the atmosphere and innovativeness he needs in his guitar work, and he slows things down a bit as well, pounding out discernable riffs that provide a doomier feel to Sombres Forets’ sound. Annoying ambitions lead ‘Tar to throw in some synths and an acoustic break for good measure, which sadly saturate a previously perfect song. Such moments also plague “La Nuit”, and the closing instrumental doubles as a steaming piece of pretentious bullsh
it, but most of Royaume de Glace
is interesting and solid. It’s not the most groundbreaking thing you’ll ever hear, but it wouldn’t hurt you to spend a good hour or so with Annatar. Just don’t laugh at his name.