Review Summary: Feelings of utter despair channeled into one hour.
Jeeze oh man, Canada must be one hell of a depressing place. The reason I say that is because Canada has the ability to produce some seriously gifted depressive black metal acts. There are bands such as Sombres Forets, Miserere Luminis, and this band Gris. I've never been to Canada (although I've been wanting to visit for a while) so I'm not exactly sure if it's actually depressing there, but with the type of black metal that these guys are churning out, it wouldn't surprise me one bit. Now if you want an example of what all depressive black metal bands should aspire to sound like, then look no further than Il Était une Forêt...
by Gris. Gris is just a two man band consisting of Icare and Neptune and this album has everything that a fan of this type of black metal could possibly want or need. There's a chilling atmosphere, tortured shrieks, haunting tremolo picked guitars, just anything you would need for a top of the line black metal experience. If this sounds like your thing, then keep on reading.
Gris pretty much accomplish their goal and more on this album and that very goal is to fill the listener with despair, despair and hatred for mankind basically. While this all definitely sounds very depressing (it is depressive black metal), there's also an excellent sense of melody throughout the album. The tremolo picked riffs are very melodic while still giving you that empty feeling inside, if that makes any sense. It's by no means a beautiful type of melody that you would find in bands such as Alcest or another shoegazey type band like that, but the haunting type of melody that you would find in a similar band such as Coldworld. But speaking of beauty, there is some of that on this album and it comes in the form violins, pianos, and even a cello. Yes, this band goes all out in trying to create an atmosphere. Every once in a while you will hear some violins or cellos in the background and the pianos are present more than once as well. As for the drumming, it's never really a huge factor on this album and it's not meant to be. This is by no means a bad thing. I mean they're present and they do what they need to do, they just don't really contribute to that desolate and bleak atmosphere, and believe me that doesn't take anything away from the quality of the album. The very objective of this album is to make the listener feel completely and utterly alone and make them loathe in their own self pity. If you're feeling optimistic about life and you have a positive outlook on everything then I advise you not to listen to this album, because it would just bring you down which is ultimately what it's meant to do.
Production on this album is not top notch, which is something you should expect from this specific sub-genre. Let's put it like this, this album would not have the same effect on the listener if there was good production and it's just as simple as that. You can't relay the message of hatred and loneliness if you have squeaky clean production. No, this album has the muddy and fuzzy production that veterans of the genre have come to know and love. That makes the atmosphere even more immense and gives the album that overall bleak feeling. You can't have a depressive black metal album and have good production, it just doesn't work like that. It's by no means bad prouduction, it's just not something that you would find on a Dimmu Borgir record so if that's all you're experienced with then this will be a big change for you.
Now on probably the most exciting part of this album, the vocals. Good god if you haven't liked black metal vocals, you might just have to change your mind with this album. The vocals here are absolutely superb and are performed by a man by the name of Icare and he can do it all. He'll go from tortured squeals, to more guttural vocals, to even more of an actual cries of pain. Yes, he does sound like he's literally crying at some points during this album. That's just how much emotion he puts into the vocals and let me tell you something, it's one hell of an outcome. Now his normal shrieking and guttural vocals may not be all too much of a change for the normal black metal listener, but I can guarantee you that Icare is more emotional and passionate than about 85% of the vocalists you will hear in this genre of music and that's really something that all listeners should be looking for and you should look no further than Il Était une Forêt...
Basically, if you want depression then you don't have to look anymore because Gris is here to bring it to you. All a black metal listener should want, especially with this type of black metal, is emotion and let me tell you Gris has goat it by the ***load. Icare and Neptune channel all of their depression, distraught, and hatred and they put it all into this nearly hour long album. Now that may sound like a long time to sit down and try and digest all of this, but you'll be so entertained with all of the feelings that this album will give you that it's going to seem like 10 minutes. The good thing is, this is only the sophomore album for Gris, so hopefully things only keep getting better and better for this young band.