Review Summary: Embrace insanity.
Ataraxia is a greek term which means tranquility of soul or freedom of worry and was considered by the epicureans and stoics philosophers as one of the essential components for achieving happiness. Ironically, the French band Ataraxie follows a path opposite to the philosophical nature of their name, and are known for having a dense and dark atmosphere in their music, and lyrics that deal with despair and insanity. This is no different in their new album L' etre et la Nausée.
Released five years after the arrival of its predecessor, L'etre Et La Nausée features a blend of the slow and heavy sound of doom metal, with moments of pure aggression, typical of death metal. The combination of these features results in an album that manages to be both melancholic and angry, being able to keep the listener's interest even at moments of calm present throughout the album. The first track for example, Procession of the Insane Ones, starts out melancholic and almost melodic, to then show the faster and aggressive, yet incredibly painful face of the record. It is precisely this ability of alternating between moments of depression and anger so naturally, present during the entire listening, which is the highest point in this album.
The production serves well the purpose of the album: It is not too clean, but isn't unnecessarily dirty either. Instead, the production is in the middle ground among these two characteristics, which contributes to the maintenance of the atmosphere created by the music without sacrificing the audio quality. Although it are typical attributes of the funeral doom style, the complete absence of solos, the technical simplicity present in most of the times in the songs, and that at certain points, the album can seem monotonous for some, may seem strange to those who aren't familiar to the style. However, as stated earlier, these characteristics are usual in the style of the album, and aren't negative to the listening, unless you really don't like the genre.
With only five songs, and almost an hour and a half of running time, L'etre Et La Nausée requires patience, and can be a challenging record that will require multiple listenings and time to grow, especially for those listeners who are less experienced with this more obscure kind of music, but in the end, the experience will be almost certainly rewarding. Amid so many spectacular releases during this year, this is an album that should not be overlooked, being one of the most consistent, and even a strong contender for best album of the year.