Review Summary: Le jour de gloire est arrivé
Whatever genre you may classify it as, Celeste has been delivering a relentlessly dark and soulcrushing sound ever since their debut. The french band's blend of Post-hardcore, Sludge mixed with elements of doom and black metal has been consistent since their first release, and while some may criticise their catalog for it's lack of variation, their trademark sound continues to earn them great praise in France and overseas. It's now been 3 years since their last Full-length, and here we are with their newest and longest album to date, Animal(e)s clocking at 70 minutes spread out on 2 discs.
Just like Morte(s) Née(s), Animal(e)s is a concept album, telling the tragic love story between a young boy and a girl, narrated in a graphic yet somewhat poetic fashion by the band's vocalist Johan. The band sticks to their themes of abuse, despair and hopelessness, but have been delivering it from a different perspective ever since they started writing concept records with Morte(s) Née(s).
Musically, Animal(e)s stays for the most part in the tradition of what Celeste is known for and does best.
The vocals are marked by a mix between emotionnaly hard-hitting post-hardcore influences, and the bleak, saturated quality of Black metal vocals. Furthermore, the songs are sung entirely in the band's mothertongue, which gives a distinct (french?) touch.
The loud and oppressing wall of sound from Celeste's previous releases is still ever-present throughout the album, with the dissonant, tremolo picked chords delivered by the oversaturated guitars. The drums stay mostly in a heavy sludge groove at mid-tempo during the verses, with the crashing cymbals blending in with the chaos created with the dissonant chords and saturated vocals.
Naturally,the sheer loudness and aggression of Celeste's music coupled with the linear song structures make it hard to distinguish each song from another on first listen.
Now comes the obvious question: does Animal(e)s relentlessly dark and heavy sound suffocate the listener halfway through or does it stay an enjoyable listen throughout its impressive runtime?
Fortunatly, the answer is the latter. While their last full length effort saw some slight evolution towards a more black metal influenced sound, Animal(e)s could mark a more significant transition in the band's formula with the introduction of drone and doom influences.The album's pace keeps the listener immersed in its dark, tense atmosphere while occasionnaly giving the listener some space to breathe.
Both discs are marked by an instrumental interlude about halfway through their runtime, and the longer songs occasionnaly go through some slower and somewhat calmer atmospheric breaks. However, these breaks never stray off too far from the album's established level of violence, still keeping the listener alert for when the music gets more intense again.
By the second half of the album, Celeste switches to a more ambitious approach to songwriting, demonstrating the full extent of their compositionnal skills through 3 songs of 7+ minutes I consider to be the best of this album.
Rather than kick in on full blast as typically demonstated on the first half of the album, the songs take their time to start off and make heavier use of slow, epic interludes with the occasionnal drone and noisy feedback.
The album then closes with a beautiful 8 minute outro track with trumpets and noisy guitars, a slow funeral march toward the albums' magnificent closing.
In conclusion, this is without a doubt Celeste's most ambitious effort, and while marking little change in the band's approach to writing music, it is through this conceptual ambition that Celeste's true potential is able to be displayed.