Review Summary: Like falling head first into an abyss
Black metal is a genre I've only been interested in as of this year, as my taste in music has evolved from listening exclusively to generic metalcore, to a much more varied and artistic take on music. Something just clicked in my brain, I had a realization of what music had integrity and true emotion and what music didn't. Ever since I explored entry-level black metal such as Burzum, Darkthrone, and even the more modern Deafheaven, there's always been one part that's interested me more than any other, and that is the overwhelming emotion found in black metal.
Now, I'm not an expert on the genre, not in the slightest, my username is not Hawks, but this French band may have created the most soul-crushing and bleak black metal album I have ever heard. The album starts out with an acoustic song "L'aube" that has emotionally overwhelming morose strings layered on top of wailing acoustic guitar, only to have these low, throaty and just wretched vocals scream over everything that's already happening, and in four and a half minutes Gris have created one of the most emotional black metal songs I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.
The album follows with a long, epic track "Les Forges", which contains a more traditional take on black metal, all the while remaining the extremely depressive nature that was showcased on the incredible opener. After around eleven minutes of having your heart wrenched, we come to an interlude, "Samsara", which is a Japanese concept of the infinite cycle of death and rebirth, and the song is certainly as bleak as the title suggests, it's more or less just a two minute drone of gloomy sounds.
The next two tracks are probably the most moving tracks on the whole album, "Igneus" and "Dil". Igneus contains some hard-hitting riffs, ear-shattering drumming, and the same wretched vocals that you'll be hearing all over this album. The vocals are some of the best I've heard in the genre, they remain low, but never really sound like death metal growls, they sound more like throaty shrieks. The closer to the first half of the album, Dil, begins with a five minute acoustic bit that is very atmospheric and mournful, before exploding for two minutes of brutal depressive black metal at it's finest.
The second half of the album starts out the same way it began, with a piece that could be best described as ennui, especially considering this is a French band after all. Acoustic guitar wails over strings, and at the end of the song vocals come in, and I can only imagine the vocalist just flexing all of the muscles in his body, straining everything he has to get his screams out, letting out all the pain and negativity he has ever felt in his life, it is truly beautiful.
I could go through every twist and turn this album has to offer, but in a way I would be spoiling it for you. This is something you have to experience yourself, and I feel like I've given you plenty of reason to. I would highly recommend this to any fan of black metal, especially anyone who particularly enjoys depressive black metal.