Review Summary: Parlez-vous la langue du skramz français? Aussitôt Mort parles avec originalité et les pédales de retard.
Aussitot Mort - Montuenga
As evidenced by the popular split LP put out by the people's champions of French emo, Daitro
and Sed Non Satiata
, earlier this year, the European emo sound is both at an all-time high and an all-time low. These bands are crafting amazing songs with a distinctive style, but are doing very little to branch out past their sweet spot of groove-focused, post-rock inspired hardcore. European emo, and in particular, French emo, has gotten to the point of being too much of a good thing. Enter Aussitot Mort, a French emo band from Caen, who's more diverse style makes them a perfect stepping stone for expanding the niche sound of the region. They flew under the radar with their 2007 debut release with Level Plane, 6 Songs
, but are poised to make a splash at the end of 2008 with their impressive second album Montuenga
, which takes everything that characterizes the French emo sound and extends its horizons to include a wide range of genres and songwriting tactics.
To not hear French emo in Aussitot Mort's dense style is impossible. The heavier than thou opening of the album with the song "Mort Mort Mort" recalls the immediate introduction to Daitro's landmark album, Laisser Vivre Les Squelletes
, which also begins on power chords and thudding drums. However, with all that's familiar, Aussitot Mort avoids contrasts from the sweet post-hardcore guitar melodies that one may expect, and continues crushing away with an introductory first minute that is essentially stoner metal with shades of post-metal. From there, the song launches into moments of interweaving guitar that rely heavily on delay effects, midtempo interludes that employ violin countermelodies, and even straight up metal riffing. In just their first 3 minutes, Aussitot Mort have crafted a song that both embraces and defies the genre's established paradigms in an accessible and exciting way.
The rest of the album fulfills the initial promise of Montuenga
in a variety of ways. Beyond appending different genres and sounds to French emo's predictable core, Aussitot Mort are still in the business of writing emotionally riveting hardcore. A song like "Une Heure Plus Tard" abandons delicate guitar-work to end on a heavy and crushing climax. "Le Kid de la Plage" builds from quiet to loud, ending on an equally cathartic crescendo that fades out into static and noise by the end of the track. It sounds as if Aussitot Mort have retained just enough of emo's concern with emotional payoffs to keep that vestigial aesthetic in tact for the sake of making the tracks immediate and memorable, while leaving enough room to experiment.
Experimentation takes a range of forms on Montuenga
. The most obvious comes from the use of non-hardcore instrumentation. No this isn't Fuc
ked Up tossing in an incongruous flute melody at the opening of a song, but instead, violin is seamlessly worked into "Mort Mort Mort" or the opening of "Le Kid de la Plage" is adorned with vibraphones that nicely accompany the acoustic guitar arpeggiation. The most impressive deviations aren't in the exoticism of the instruments but rather in the innovations to guitar playing, both in the way the guitars intermingle with one another and in the way Aussitot Mort use delay and other effects. The guitar parts are really fresh on this album and most of the guitar leads are non-repeating throughout the course of the song, meaning they always come out of no where and are constantly revolving the song's energy and intensity in new, exciting directions. The ascending melody on "Une Heure Plus Tard" at 0:20 is a perfect example. The song begins on stop-start opening that invokes Daitro to a T, but then the echoed lead guitar and sidewinding accompanying riff carry the song off into an uplifting and uptempo territory that turns the introductory passage on its head. Also, the use of effects deserves some attention as well. The mix on Montuenga
is heavy, but is by no means cluttered. Every instrument has its own sonic space, which means that the delay and reverb on the guitars creates little echoes and contrapuntal movements that fill in the spaciousness left in the mix. The result is gorgeous and fulfilling, and is at its best when the guitars are playing some kind of trill that sends little waves of fluttering notes out across the pan, completing the sense of saturation in the production.
This guitar work is wonderful and the alloy of influences is pretty original, but don't take the bait on this one 100%; Montuenga
is not some revolutionary tour de force. It's still a genre album, but it does an applaudable job of stepping outside its comfort zone. Aussitot Mort have taken steps in the right direction, but there is still quite a bit of territory left to explore before the French scene will yield an album with the ambition, originality, and precision of an As the Roots Undo
or The Moon Is a Dead World